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Maths: Build it > Say it > Draw it > Write it


In Year One, we love maths! We work hard to really understand what we are learning so that we can:

  • show our understanding in different ways
  • explain what we know and how we know it
  • use our understanding to help others and to solve problems


Each lesson we use four different steps. Sometimes we focus on one step more than other, but we always make sure we include each step in some way.  We all learn in different ways, so it helps to look at things from different angles rather than using the same way of learning each time. 


So, we say "Build it! Say it! Draw it! Write it!"



  1. Build it:
    1. This stage can help us know how to begin a calculation or problem, for example 'Everyone at Mrs Gatward's party will get a party bag.  There were 8 people at the party, then 6 more people arrived. Mrs Gatward thinks she will need 15 bags, is she correct? Prove it!' To tackle this problem, we would put 8 red counters in the ten frame, then 6 blue counters. Using two colours helps us to easily see the two parts as well as the total. By counting how many counters there are altogether, we can see that the actual number of bags needed is 14.
    2. In school we use ten frames, part-whole models, counters, 10s and 1s.
    3. At home you could use the inside of two egg boxes (remove 2 holes so that you only have 10 in each box), bowls, sweetcorn and peas, straws as individuals and in bundles of 10s.
  2. Say it:
    1. We often work with a partner so that we can talk through what we are doing and what we find. This can help us to spot mistakes in our own learning or in someone else's. We can then explain where we have gone wrong, what we need to do to correct it and how we know this.
    2. We try to use technical words in our normal conversations. For example, "I have 8 red counters which represent the people already at the party. I have 6 blue counters which represent the people that arrive afterwards. 8 plus 6 equals 14. I have 14 counters altogether, which means that 14 party bags are needed in total not 15."
  3. Draw it:
    1. Drawing a calculation is a way to deepen our understanding and work through any confusion or mistakes with more consideration and confidence. It helps us to spot patterns, connections and number bonds. All of which help us to develop our maths skills.
    2. We know that we can use lines or dots to represent anything and they are easy and quick to draw. They are a good choice!
    3. In school we like to draw in rows of five to replicate our ten frames. This helps us to organise our drawings, count them more easily and spot errors. It also creates a basis for future maths learning, e.g. multiplication arrays.
    4. We like to represent the parts in slightly different ways, for example two different colours or lines and dots.  This allows us to see the parts and the total more easily.
  4. Write it:
    1. Once we have completed the other steps, we record our calculation in written form, e.g. 8 + 6 = 14. 
    2. We are often asked, "How do you know?", "Prove it!", "True or false?" "Are they correct?" or "Show your understanding".  To answer these types of questions, we would have a go at writing a sentence or two to explain our understanding. This is why the three steps before are so helpful!
    3. In Year One we might write something like, 'Mrs Gatward needs 14 party bags not 15 because 8 + 6 = 14.'


Remember: 'Build it! Say it! Draw it! Write it!'