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Holi - the festival of colours (and numbers!): Topical Maths [6]

By David Leighton 

Bring purpose and context to Key Stage 2 Maths in your primary school with our Holi investigation; sixth in a series of blogs linking classroom KS2 Maths lessons and resources to topical, calendar-based events.

Next up on our topical blog posts is every messy child’s dream - Holi! The Hindu festival of love, or festival of colour represents a range of ideas: from the arrival of spring, the end of winter, forgiveness, friendship, to a thanksgiving for a good harvest.

For us here at Third Space Learning - and you the teacher - it also provides a chance to encourage diversity in your classroom, discuss the importance of Maths in religions (looking at you, Islamic art!) and offers another opportunity to bring topical-calendar based Maths into the classroom in order to bridge the gap between Maths in school and Maths in the real world. 

Free download: 

20 topical maths problems and investigations for spring term 2017, including Holi


What diversity means in education:

Diversity can be defined as the ways in which people are both alike, and different - from race, ethnicity, culture, religion, class, and gender. As any teacher knows, diversity is a hugely important part of life, as well as forming an effective team (or classroom). Bringing a range of different people with different ideas to - say a Maths investigation - is much more likely to produce an effective outcome or correct answer than a group of people with the same ideas. 

As humans, we bounce off each other’s ideas and often are greater than the sum of our parts. Ensuring pupils are aware of this is key to producing work in groups - especially considering in later life they will likely have to collaborate with others frequently.

Maths in religion - Symmetry in Islamic Art

The stunning patterns that adorn mosques, madrasas, and palaces around the world are more than just beautiful pieces of craft - they’re Mathematically inspired: created using symmetry and repeated geometric shapes. The image below? Made with Maths:

Islamic art

Pieces such as this - no matter how beautiful - always start out simply; using only a ruler and a pair of compasses. The framework for the art itself is based on Greek geometry, i.e the principles of building complex patterns and shapes with simple lines, repetition, and symmetry. 

So, with all this in mind - below is a Maths investigation linked to Holi for you to try out in the classroom! For more Spring-term 2017 activities linked to topical Maths in the classroom, download your your free topical problem solving resource.

Holi-based topical Maths investigation - Creating Colour

Colour is all around us, but have you ever noticed how many shades of paint there are in a DIY store? Isn’t it cool to think that all the colours in the world are just a mix of the three primary colours?

Have a look at the colour chart below and answering the following questions:

Holi pic 2


  1. What do you notice about the colours on this chart?
  2. How do you think they were made?
  3. Create your own paint colour chart for your favourite colour. You can even name each shade if you are feeling creative. For each new colour you create, record the ratio and proportion of the colours you used to make it.

For example:

Holi pic 3

Tweet us at @thirdspacetweet and tell us how you incorporate Holi and Islamic Art into your Maths lessons?

This post is number 6 in the topical maths series. Follow the links below for the rest:

  1. Heart Month Months activities
  2. Shrove Tuesday Maths activities
  3. World Book Day Maths activities
  4. International Women's Day Maths activities
  5. British Science Week Maths activities
  6. Holi Maths activities
  7. Red Nose Day Maths activities
  8. Easter/Lent Maths activities

And for more topical problem solving tasks based on Holi and other calendar-based events for the Spring Term don't forget to download your free topical problem solving resource


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