Fitbit maths: How Issy’s fitness watch became my go to maths tool?

Most people look at me as if I’m mad when I say that thing that has helped Issy the most with her maths is her fitness watch. Despite the title Issy doesn’t actually have a Fitbit, she has a cheaper alternative but it does the job displaying the date and time, steps taken and distance covered. It also does a whole lot of other things but  don’t really use these functions in maths.

Most of the activities listed below, I do on a very ad hoc basis usually as we are walking down the street or catching public transport. For the most part Issy doesn’t even realise she’s “doing maths” but it all reinforces the sit-down learning that she does. So what have we covered?

Telling the time

Well obviously!

For some reason, schools insist on teaching the time, whilst at the same time stopping children from wearing a watch. Two things happened when Issy started wearing her watch; firstly, she became interested in learning how to tell the time and secondly we were able to ask her what the time was throughout the day starting with a digital 12-hour clock and then advancing to a 24-hour clock and finally an analogue clock.

Once she was confident in telling the time, I started asking her to tell me the time (using any clock we saw) and then advanced to things like how many minutes is it until the next hour? how long is it until the parking runs out at […]?

Once she was confident in telling the time, I started asking her to tell me the time (using any clock we saw) and then advanced to things like how many minutes is it until the next hour? how long is it until the parking runs out at […]?

Using the Step Counter function

We’ve used the step counter in almost of our learning this year covering topics including place value, identifying odd numbers, even numbers and prime numbers, rounding and estimating, addition and subtraction, percentages and data handling (comparing and ordering numbers, averages, collecting and displaying data).

Some of the ad hoc questions we ask are

  • How many steps have you done?
  • What does the ‘2’ in the number 3542 represent?
  • How many more have you got to get to reach 10,000?
  • If she’s done more than 10,000, how many extra steps have you done?
  • Is the number odd or even? How do you know?

Some of the more formal quesions include

  • Write the number in words
  • Write the number in expanded form
  • How many steps have you done in a week?
  • Put the numbers in order from smallest to largest
  • Put the numbers in order from largest to smallest
  • Compare two numbers using the > < and =
  • Are any of the numbers prime numbers? How do you know?
  • What day did you do the most steps?
  • What day did you do the least steps?
  • Find the average number of steps over a week (mean and median)
  • Compare weeks across a month
  • Looking at data over a week (or sometimes a month), what are the different ways you can represent the data (bar charts, line graphs, tables)
  • What percentage of your weekly steps have you done on […] day?
Using the distance function

All of the questions above apply equally to the data captured by the distance covered. 

The distance covered data came into it’s own when learning about decimals (adding, subtracting, comparing and ordering decimals), averages (mean, median and mode) and converting distances between kilometres and metres.

There are probably a million other uses that we have yet to discover, so if any of you have any other great ideas please let us know. We’re always looking for ways to make maths more fun to learn.

27 Replies to “Fitbit maths: How Issy’s fitness watch became my go to maths tool?”

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