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Maths Matters: Millfields Community School

01 Mar 2011

Architecture, Food and Poetry

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Cardboard Houses, Years 2-4 Millfields Community School Students. Photo: Christa Holka, 2011

Pupils from years 2 to 4 at Millfields Community School in the London Borough of Hackney worked with artist Dia Batal and art therapist Jo Evans over several weeks to explore how maths informs our everyday life.

Gallery visit

The artist explored how architecture, design, food and poetry all have a relationship with mathematics. The workshop series began with a visit to Rivington Place to see Iniva’s Sheela Gowda exhibition. Pupils also went on a tour of the building to explore its architecture and design elements and then investigated related themes through looking at books from the Iniva collection featuring innovative architecture. This process shaped the pupils’ plans for a cityscape and helped them to consider what makes up a city. Places such as ice cream shops, play areas and cinemas as well as London landmarks all formed part of the large collage they created comprising their own line drawings set against a photographic background and mounted on the gallery wall.


Following this, in workshops at their school, students explored recipes for dishes from around the world. The discussion and related activities highlighted the direct link between maths and food preparation.  Students brought recipes from home to share with each other and followed this by making their own paper mache kitchenware and measuring implements painted in bright colourful patterns. After researching food, the group then shifted its focus to architecture. Each pupil designed their ideal home and built it in miniature. The group then brought their homes together to create a community called Art Town. This opened up an enquiry into how towns are planned, how neighbourhoods are joined up and how social networks are created.

In their final workshops, the mathematics of poetry was highlighted. This was explored by focusing in on haikus. Participants learned about haikus and their mathematical structure. Pupils then wrote their own haikus which were then painted onto large black and white banners.

Emotional learning

Throughout the project, the emotional and social aspects of life were also explored. The group thought about how families and communities are strengthened through eating together and through sharing domestic spaces and public spaces. They also reflected on how important it is to capture the feelings encountered in everyday life and express them in structured formats such as poetry.

New Learning Resource

Through delivering and developing the workshops in consultation with pupils and staff at Millfields Community School, A Space and Iniva have developed a resource for supporting creative approaches to maths. The learning cards that have resulted from this project can be used with the images of artwork made by pupils.


The project was made possible through funding from A New Direction and Creative Partnerships as part of their Change School programme.
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