Cross-curricular mastery: maths and science in Year 1

|7 min read

Editor’s Note:

This post is part of our Cross-curricular mastery series. Here, you’ll find tips and advice to help you make the most of the links between maths and other subjects.

Weaving other subjects into your lessons is a great way for learners to see how useful maths is. Your science lessons are the perfect place to start.

Maths doesn’t exist in a bubble, it’s connected to the rest of the curriculum. Why not make the most of this by linking maths to other subjects? Maths and science go together brilliantly, so your science lessons are the perfect place to start.

Here’s how to consolidate maths skills within science lessons in Year 1. The lessons are:

  • Ordered chronologically based on the Maths — No Problem! long term planning for Year 1
  • Cover all of the knowledge-based objectives in the science curriculum and the maths objectives in the areas stated
  • Can include addition and subtraction skills too — I’ve assumed that learners have already covered the lessons on addition and subtraction

Everyday materials and geometry (Spring Term)

Young learners can find it hard to learn all of the new vocabulary in the shape chapter. The language is technical and can seem irrelevant when you’re five. Using real-life situations and having objects to handle, manipulate, and explore helps children learn all the new words.

Lesson 1: Recognising materials and shapes

Maths objectives

  • Recognise and name some common 3-D shapes, for example cuboids, pyramids and spheres

Science objectives

  • Distinguish between an object and the material from which it is made
  • Identify and name a variety of everyday materials, including wood, plastic, glass, metal, water and rock

Look at a variety of objects and ask learners:

  • What shape is this?
  • What is it made of?
  • What other shapes could you make from that material?

Lesson 2: Describing the physical properties of everyday objects

Maths objectives

  • Recognise and name some common 2-D and 3-D shapes

Science objectives

  • Describe the simple physical properties of a variety of everyday materials
  • Compare and group together a variety of everyday materials on the basis of their simple physical properties

Give children a variety of everyday materials and challenge them to make different 2-D and 3-D shapes with them. Which ones can they manipulate? Which materials can’t be manipulated? Sort the materials based on how easy they are to create shapes with.

Plants and measurement (Spring Term)

What do plants do? They grow! Plants like cress grow rapidly, and plants like saplings drastically change when they grow into trees.

Children are fascinated by plants, so it’s a perfect topic to link to measurement because it will give them a mathematical understanding of the changes that already interest them.

Lesson 1: Recording how trees grow

Maths objectives

  • Recognise and use language relating to dates, including days of the week, weeks, months and years

Science objectives

  • Identify and name a variety of common wild and garden plants, including deciduous and evergreen trees
  • Measure and begin to record length and height

Research two evergreen and two deciduous trees and compare the height of them from sapling to fully grown. Look at pictures of two evergreen trees and talk about the way the tree looks and changes over months or years. Compare the height and yearly changes of the four trees.

Lesson 2: Comparing and describing plants

Maths objectives

  • Compare, describe and solve practical problems for lengths and heights [for example, long/short, longer/shorter, tall/short, double/half]
  • Solve one-step problems that involve addition and subtraction

Science objectives

  • Identify and describe the basic structure of a variety of common flowering plants, including trees
  • Gathering and recording data to help in answering questions

Give children a table with some heights of some flowering plants, and have them measure and fill in gaps for others in the classroom. Have them draw and label the flowering parts of the three plants they’ve studied.

Can they rank them from tallest to shortest? Can they work out how many could be stacked on top of each other before they would reach the ceiling? Pose other comparative or practical problems relating to the height of the plant or the length of the flowering parts.

Animals, including humans, and place value (Spring Term)

There are such a wide variety of animals, so opportunities to estimate, count and compare are everywhere. The numbers that the children find are in an engaging context which develops a love of nature, a respect for animals and a love of factual maths.

Lesson 1: Counting animals

Maths objectives

  • Count to and across 100, forwards and backwards, beginning with 0 or 1, or from any given number
  • Count, read and write numbers to 100 in numerals; count in multiples of 2s, 5s and 10s
  • Identify and represent numbers using objects and pictorial representations including the number line, and use the language of: equal to, more than, less than (fewer), most, least

Science objectives

  • Identify and name a variety of common animals including fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals
  • Identify and name a variety of common animals that are carnivores, herbivores and omnivores

Show your learner a video with multiple animals in it or take them outside for a survey. Have children use a tally chart to record what they see. Use the tally chart data to pose questions. How many animals altogether? Can you count them up in 5’s?

Have the class make pictograms (1 picture = 2, 5, or 10 animals) and use number lines to answer questions about the data. How many more sparrows than robins? Order the animals from most to fewest.

Lesson 2: Describing the feature of different animals

Maths objectives

  • Read and write numbers from 1 to 20 in numerals and words

Science objectives

  • Describe and compare the structure of a variety of common animals (fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals including pets)

Look at how many legs, teeth, claws or eyes a selection of animals have and record in both numerals and in words.

Lesson 3: Counting parts of the body

Maths objectives

  • Given a number, identify 1 more and 1 less

Science objectives

  • Identify, name, draw and label the basic parts of the human body and say which part the body is associated with each sense

Draw and label the aliens Lesseb and Moreb. Lesseb has one less of every part of a human (for example, one leg and 31 teeth) and Moreb has one more (three legs and 33 teeth).

Seasonal changes and measurement (Summer Term)

Over the year, your learners will notice the changes happening around them. Measurement helps learners to understand the world around them, and the changes give them the chance to see the relevance of measurement in a familiar context.

Lesson 1: Sequencing events across the four seasons

Maths objectives

  • Sequence events in chronological order using language, for example, before and after, next, first, today, yesterday, tomorrow, morning, afternoon and evening
  • Recognise and use language relating to dates, including days of the week, weeks, months and years

Science objectives

  • Observe changes across the four seasons

Give children pictures of an area they are familiar with, for example, a tree in the playground. Ask them to sequence the pictures based on when they think each one was taken. How do you know this one was taken in summer, autumn, morning, or evening?

Make a diary by drawing pictures of another familiar location showing what it is like during different months of the year.

Lesson 2: Observing weather over time

Maths objectives

  • Compare, describe and solve practical problems for time, for example, quicker, slower, earlier, later
  • Measure and record time, for example hours, minutes, seconds
  • Tell the time to the hour and half past the hour and draw the hands on a clock face to show these times

Science objectives

  • Observe and describe weather associated with the seasons and how day length varies

Give learners a challenge to record when it rains, and how long for. Every time it rains during the weeks, have the class record the start and stop times and work out how long it was raining for.

Give them some incomplete data tables that you made in the winter. Can they draw the start time on the clock if you have told them the end time and how long it was raining for? Why did it rain more in the winter?

Discuss what they have noticed about the daylight hours this term and show them the sunset/sunrise times across the year. Can they draw clocks to match the times for each season?

Consolidating maths skills during science lessons lets learners explore numbers, shapes, space and measure in contexts that are relevant and interesting to them. This doesn’t just put them on the path to maths mastery but also sparks their scientific curiosity.