Star Wars Day has come around again. Top of their list of activities to repeat from last year, was helping BB-8 use magnets to hunt for scrap metal. This year we combined it with some work on fractions. We looked at a whole, half and a quarter.


  • Tray of sand
  • Scrap metal – alan keys, spanners, curtain rings etc.
  • Magnet
  • BB-8
  • Fraction rods
  • Log slices with numbers and maths signs written on


Ioan and Finn used their magnets to help BB-8 pull all of the scrap metal out of the sand. They absolutely love doing this, you can tell from how silently they worked alongside each other.

Finding the whole number

Once they had retrieved all of the metal, they counted it up. As they counted the pieces, they set them out in rows of 10. The final row only had 8 in it.

Finding a half

Ioan explained that a half was when you break a whole into two equal pieces. I asked how he could find half of all the scrap metal.

He explained how to work out half of 48, by using partitioning and halving 40, then halving 8.

Partitioning is a way of working out maths problems that involve large numbers by splitting them into smaller units so they’re easier to work with. It is easier to halve these smaller parts.

For instance, he could halve the tens. Half of 40 is 20. Then he could halve the single units, making the problem more manageable. Half of 8 is 4.

Ioan worked out that half of 48 was 20+4, so it equalled 24.

Finding a quarter

Ioan explained that a half is half of a whole, and a quarter is half of a half.

The half is 24, so a quarter is 24 divided by 2.

To divide twenty four by two, he partitioned 24 in to 20 and 4. He halved 20 and then 4.


Ioan filled in his whiteboard. He spelt the word quarter, as “water with a qu”. I left his spelling, but next time we do fractions I will make sure that he sees the written word with an ‘r’ is in. He knew that whole was “hole with a w”, and half was “like calf.. one calf. two calves”.

Then he checked his working out by physically moving the scrap metal to halve it, then quarter it.

DfES Outcomes for EYFS and National Curriculum (2013)

Mathematics Year 1 programme of study

Number – fractions

  • recognise, find and name a half as one of two equal parts of an object, shape or quantity
  • recognise, find and name a quarter as one of four equal parts of an object, shape or quantity.

Science Year 3 programme of study

Forces and magnets

  • observe how magnets attract or repel each other and attract some materials and not others