About Oral Mathematics

Anahit Harutyunyan

In this article I have tried to present how oral Mathematics is realized in our class. I have described the important approaches and principles which are applicable. This is an attempt to introduce an alternative Mathematics in examples and achievements which differ from common way of delivering Mathematics. Only the successful samples are presented here.

The programme “Fun of Knowledge” is is implemented in the primary schools (Grades 1-3) of “Mkhitar Sebastatsi” Educomplex. This programme unites all the primary school courses and is project based. Mathematics an element of learners’ everyday activity and it is expressed both as a separate unit and as part of a project. It is everywhere and nonstop: when the learner is doing sums orally, solving problems, composing, asking questions and answering them, observing, comparing, measuring and writing down some data, travelling and writing down.

While organizing Mathematics teaching process we give preference to the tasks which are connected with learners’ everyday life, are practical, applicable and also correspond to the established standards of education. Our aim is to develop the learners’ will, ability t think, imagination, attention, ability to observe, quick wittedness, ability to guess, independence. Various tools are used: personal computers, interactive smart boards, projectors, the Internet (blog, website, and media library), clocks, scales, tools for measuring.

The learner’s environment (classroom, school yard, gym hall and kitchen) with everything in them can serve not only as objects of study but also important means for stimulating this study.    

 About oral counting              

Oral counting has occupied n important place in the learner’s activities since Grade 1. Oral counting in class helps the learners to concentrate their attention. Every day 15-30 minutes is allocated for oral counting. Most of the six-year-old first graders already know the numbers and can count orally. At this stage our aim is develop the learner’s ability to understand the connection between the number and the quantity of certain objects. We can begin counting and sorting the objects in the learner's environment. The learners can begin counting themselves. At first they can count all the learners and then find out how many girls and how many boys there are in the classroom, and then they can count the chairs and compare the number of chairs with the number of learners. They can try to count backward or count by adding 5 or 10 to each following number. The conception of the previous or following number can gradually be introduced.

The principle from simple to more complicated is followed during the whole teaching- learning process.

Getting to know numbers and recognizing them is a very lovely and interesting process. Like learning the alphabet learning numbers is also a means which stimulates the development of learners’ oral speech, imagination, the ability to think and observe. The numbers are livened up in learners' speeches and become heroes of fairy tales and unexpected images in their drawings. The learners begin thinking where they can meet these numbers in real life.

Here is a piece of story about numbers. (Grade 1)                  

Once it began raining in our town. At first one drop of rain fell down from the cloud and said,


Then two drops of rain fell down and said,

“Oh, oh”

Three drops exclaimed three times ,

“Oh, oh, oh”


Numbers can be observed, studied and played with by creating “Number Profile”.

About solving problems

Math problems in primary school are generally about the learners or connected with learners’ everyday life their routine. Here are some examples: “Now I am seven, how old shall I be in 15 years?... How many years ago was my mother 15 years old?... Our bus started at 8:00, and we got to school at 8:45. How long did it take us to get to school?”

We also solve logical problems. In many cases the learners themselves make up problems. The process of discussing problems is often more important than its solution and answer. 

 Problem solution can be achieved in different ways: discussion of tales (the learners should distinguish the tale from its question-demand, connect the state of things in the problem with the own experience), drawing, converting narrations into charts, role playing, changing the questions.

To make up Math problems we can also use pieces of literature (sayings, fairy tales, an episode from a fairy tale or a fairy tale hero). Learners can put questions which may not have definite answers. But sometimes putting questions or skills of forming questions are more important than problems with definite answers.

While carrying out the educational project “Easter” an idea occurred to us when we were reading and discussing some proverbs and sayings about Easter: to turn these sayings and proverbs into Math problems-puzzles. In the result of it we compiled a funny Easter reader of problems.    

Then we began thinking about the answers which were different but also important with their logical justifications.  

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
― Albert Einstein

About watching and observing, measuring and weighing

Observations for primary school learners play an important role in their activities. While carrying out different educational projects, during educational trips the learners observe the environment they are in. They watch the changes of the sky, the Moon and the Sun and minute these changes by drawing or taking the photos of them. In autumn and spring they observe the trees and minute the changes in them. While going on an educational trip they find out the weather differences in the country and in town; they also fix the time of departure and arrival and then find out how long it took them to get to the destination; we do shopping together, and that time we are really engaged in oral Mathematics in a real life situation. After having done our shopping we come to school and begin weighing and sorting the vegetables and fruits.          

Whle carrying out the educational project «Easter» we came to the conclusion that we should deal with the Unified Code for Units of Measure

Towards the May Gathering

“Mathematical Month” was organized before Annual May Gathering of Author Pedagogy. During the Mathematical Flash Mob the learners solved Math problems taken from the Math contest “Kangaroo”. The beginning was encouraging. It is sure to be continued. At open lessons of the May Gathering we will try to present the educational project “ Gianni Rodari in Mathematics” within the framework of which we will make up Math stories.


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