# Woolly worms – Early Stage 1

Woolly worms is a thinking mathematically targeted teaching opportunity, focussed on comparing the length of a collection of objects.

## Syllabus

Syllabus outcomes and content descriptors from Mathematics K–10 Syllabus © NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) for and on behalf of the Crown in right of the State of New South Wales, 2023

• MAO-WM-01
• MAE-GM-02
• MAE-GM-03

## Collect resources

You will need for:

• sticky tape

• different lengths of string or wool for your woolly worms (you could also use, leaves and sticks from outside, cutlery or books)

• something to write on.

## Watch

Watch the Wooly worms video (9:36). This video was created with Kelly from Keiraville PS.

Compare lengths of objects found in the environment.

### Transcript of Wooly worms

[A title over a navy-blue background: Woolly worms. Below the title is text: From reSolve. Small font text in the lower left-hand corner reads: NSW Mathematics Strategy Professional Learning team (NSWMS PL team). In the lower right-hand corner is the red waratah of the NSW Government logo.

A title on a white background reads: You will need…

• sticky tape
• different lengths of string or wool to make your woolly worms (you could also use leaves, sticks from outside, shoes, cutlery or books).

Below the points is an image of a variety of wool string pieces piled up next to a roll of sticky tape.]

### Speaker

For this task, you will need sticky tape, different lengths of string or wool to make your woolly worms. You could also use leaves, sticks from outside, shoes, cutlery or books.

[Text over a navy-blue background: Let’s play!]

### Speaker

Let's play!

[Over an orange table top, the speaker waves her hands. On the right side is a stuffed toy dog wearing a hat with a Union Jack and a blue bow tie.]

### Speaker

Hello, mathematicians. Guess what?

[She touches the toy.]

### Speaker

Today, I get to play maths with my good friend B the Bulldog. And guess what we're exploring?

[She holds up a clear bag of wool pieces.]

### Speaker

Today, we've got some woolly worms. Oh, but don't worry. They're not real worms. Now, B and I were having a look at our bag of worms, and we were thinking, is there a way that just by looking and thinking, if we could estimate which woolly worm will be the longest and which woolly worm would be the shortest?

[She holds the bag so it shows that there is a long purple piece and a long white piece curled inside, as well as a twisted cream piece.]

### Speaker

What are you thinking? Mm-hmm. I think that the shortest woolly worm in our bag will be…

[She traces the cream piece with her finger.]

### Speaker

…this cream worm down here, and I think maybe the longest woolly worm will be this…

[She traces the white piece with her finger.]

### Speaker

…thick, white worm here. What do you think, B? Oh! B said he agrees, and he actually used his mathematical imagination to try to imagine these woolly worms all stretched out straight. What a great strategy we could use, B.

Alright, mathematicians, let's take out these woolly worms and check.

[She opens the bag and places the wool pieces in the centre.]

### Speaker

OK, here they are. What do you notice?

[She moves the wool pieces around.]

### Speaker

Mmm. Some of the woolly worms are thicker than others. This white one…

[She touches the end of the white piece.]

### Speaker

…is nice and thick, but this cream one is a little bit skinnier…

[She points to the end of the cream piece.]

### Speaker

…isn't it? Alright, B, which worm should we start with? Let's put them in order from shortest to longest.

[She picks up the purple piece.]

### Speaker

OK, I think I'm going to start with this purple woolly worm here. Now I really liked B's strategy of stretching the worm out nice and straight.

[She pinches one end of the purple piece.]

### Speaker

And I think if I pinched this end of my woolly worm…

[Using her other hand, she runs her fingers along the piece.]

### Speaker

…I can run my fingers along it and feel how long it takes me to get to the other end…

[The piece drops.]

### Speaker

…and this might help me predict which woolly worm is the longest. That took a little bit of time, mathematicians.

[She pinches one end of the piece, then using her other hand, she runs her fingers along it.]

### Speaker

Let's try it again. Aha. I'm predicting that this one might be the longest.

[She puts the piece on the table, below the other pieces.]

### Speaker

So, just for now, I'm going to place it down here at the bottom. Let's try this cream woolly worm.

[She picks up the cream piece.]

### Speaker

If we use the same technique of pinching and pulling...

[She pinches one end of the piece, then using her other hand, she runs her fingers along it and then the piece drops.]

### Speaker

Oh, did you notice that that didn't take me as much time as what it did for my purple worm? So my prediction is that this cream worm…

[She holds up the cream piece. Then points to the purple one.]

### Speaker

…is shorter than this purple worm. But there's another way that I can check.

[She sets the cream piece and white piece aside. She straightens the purple one and moves it to the centre.]

### Speaker

Let's move our purple worm here first. By placing my woolly worms…

[She places the cream piece above the purple one, aligning their left ends.]

### Speaker

…and making sure that their ends are at the same level, I'm able to use direct comparison to tell. What can you see? Mmm, I'm seeing that this cream worm…

[She traces the cream piece with her finger.]

Speaker

…is much shorter than this longer purple worm.

[She traces the purple piece with her finger.]

### Speaker

For the minute, our cream worm is the shortest, so I'm going to move it up a little bit like this.

[She moves the cream piece slightly up. She picks up the white piece.]

### Speaker

OK, now we're left with our thicker white worm.

[She pinches one end of the piece, then using her other hand, she runs her fingers along it and then the piece drops.]

### Speaker

Let's do the pinch and pull it through. Oh, I think it took a little bit more time than our cream worm but I'm not sure if it took more time than our purple worm. Let's try it again…

[She pinches one end of the piece, then using her other hand, she runs her fingers along it and then the piece drops.]

### Speaker

…pinch and pull. Mmm, I'm still not sure. Let's use that direct comparison.

[She places the white piece below the cream one, aligning their left ends.]

### Speaker

I can place my white woolly worm next to the cream worm, like this, make sure that my ends are end to end - that means they're the same - and then I'm able to compare their lengths. If the woolly worm, the white woolly worm…

[She moves the white piece slightly to the right.]

### Speaker

…sorry, was down here like this, do you see how their ends don't line up?

[She points to the left ends of the pieces.]

### Speaker

That's not going to give me accurate information, mathematicians.

[She aligns the left ends of the pieces.]

### Speaker

It's important that I make sure their ends are the same. Now we can see that our cream worm is shorter…

[She traces the cream piece with her finger.]

…than our thicker, white woolly worm.

[She traces the white piece with her finger.]

### Speaker

Let's move our white woolly worm near our purple worm…

[She places the white piece below the purple one, aligning their left ends.]

### Speaker

…and do the same thing to check. Make sure they are ends to ends. Oh, that's right. Again, I can see that the purple worm…

[She traces the purple piece with her finger.]

### Speaker

…is much longer than my white, woolly, thick worm here.

[She traces the white piece with her finger.]

### Speaker

So that means…

[She picks up the white piece and places it in between the cream and purple pieces.]

### Speaker

…that this white worm will need to go in the middle. It's longer than the cream worm but it's shorter than the purple worm. Now, I'm going to use some sticky tape…

[She places sticky tape over the cream piece.]

…to help me stick down my ends to make sure that the ends stay in…

[She places sticky tape over the white piece.]

### Speaker

…line with each other and that my ends are all evenly spaced out like this.

[She places sticky tape over the purple piece.]

### Speaker

I need to pull that one down a little bit. There we go. OK, now, B, can you see we've put our woolly worms in order from shortest all the way to the longest? Oh, what's that, B? Oh, look…

[She picks up the other wool pieces under B.]

### Speaker

…B's found some more woolly worms here. Should we put them into our other worms and see where they fit? Let's start with this thin, white worm.

[She picks up a thin white piece. She pinches one end of the piece, then using her other hand, she runs her fingers along it and then the piece drops.]

### Speaker

Pinch and pull. Oh, mathematicians, that felt a little bit like this cream worm.

[She points to the cream piece.]

### Speaker

Pinch and pull…

[She pinches one end of the piece, then using her other hand, she runs her fingers along it and then the piece drops.]

### Speaker

…oh, very similar. Let's lay it down and use direct comparison and see.

[She places the thin white piece above the cream one, aligning their left ends.]

### Speaker

We need to make sure our ends are level. I'm going to hold it there. OK, now what can we see? Mmm, by comparing the cream worm and the white worm…

[She points to the cream piece, then traces the white piece.]

### Speaker

…we can tell that the white worm is longer than this cream worm so it can't be the first worm in our order.

[She places the thin white piece below the cream piece, aligning their left ends.]

### Speaker

What about if we placed it here?

We know that it's longer than the cream worm, but is this white, skinny worm longer than the woolly, thick white worm? No, it's not. It's shorter. So that's where our white, thin worm needs to go in our order…

[She places sticky tape over the thin white piece.]

### Speaker

…and let's stick it down. Whoops! Like this. We have all our ends nice and level. Oh! I can see a bit of space there. I might need to pull out this worm and try that again, making sure that all my ends are level. That's much better. Okey dokey. Which one should we do next?

[She picks up a black piece.]

### Speaker

Let's try this black worm.

[She pinches one end of the piece, then using her other hand, she runs her fingers along it and then the piece drops.]

### Speaker

I can pinch and pull. Oh...B, you're right. It is making you really think about this purple one, pinch and pull.

[She pinches one end of the piece, then using her other hand, she runs her fingers along it.]

### Speaker

It does take me a bit of time to get from end to end.

[She places the black piece down over the thin white piece.]

### Speaker

I know that it's longer than my cream worm, and I can tell it's longer than my skinny white worm. I'm going to predict…

[She moves the black piece between the thick white piece and the purple piece.]

### Speaker

…that it's even longer than the thick white worm. Yes, it is. And look, it's also longer than our purple worm.

[She places the black piece below the purple one, aligning their left ends.]

### Speaker

So this black woolly worm needs to be at the very end. I think we just found our longest worm…

[She places sticky tape over the black piece.]

### Speaker

…and let's stick it down there. And lastly, mathematicians, we have a brown worm.

[She picks up a brown piece.]

### Speaker

[She pinches one end of the piece, then using her other hand, she runs her fingers along it and then the piece drops.]

### Speaker

Pinch and pull. Oh, that was quick.

[She pinches one end of the piece, then using her other hand, she runs her fingers along it and then the piece drops.]

### Speaker

Pinch and pull.

[She places the brown piece below the black one, aligning their left ends.]

### Speaker

Do we think it's going to be the longest if it took such a short amount of time to get from end to end? No.

[She places the brown piece above the purple one, aligning their left ends.]

### Speaker

Maybe here? No, that's not quite right, is it?

[She holds it up.]

### Speaker

Mm-hmm, I'm thinking something similar, B. This is our shortest worm.

[She places the brown piece above the thin white one, aligning their left ends.]

### Speaker

Let's place it right here and check against the cream worm. And just like that, we can see that our brown worm…

[She places sticky tape over the brown piece.]

### Speaker

…is the shortest worm in our collection of woolly worms.

[Text over a navy-blue background: What’s (some of) of the mathematics?]

### Speaker

Let's have a look at what some of the mathematics is in this activity.

[A title on a white background reads: What’s (some of) of the mathematics?
The text below read: We can compare different lengths using direct comparison. It is important to line up the ends so we can be accurate with our measuring.

· I place my white woolly worm next to the cream worm and make sure the ends start in the same place. And then, I can compare their lengths.

On the right side of the text are two images on top of each other. The one above is of the speaker showing the cream and white pieces not aligned. The one below shows the pieces aligned.]

### Speaker

We can compare different lengths using direct comparison. It is important to line up the ends so we can be accurate with our measuring. I place my white woolly worm next to the cream worm and make sure the ends start in the same place. And then, I can compare their lengths.

[A title on a white background reads: What’s (some of) of the mathematics?
The text below read: We can describe different lengths by using words like 'longer than' and 'shorter than' and use this to help us to order the woolly worms.

• I can see that the cream worm is the shortest. The white woolly worm is longer than the cream worm but shorter than the purple worm.

On the right side of the text is an image of the cream, white and purple pieces aligned.]

### Speaker

We can describe different lengths by using words like 'longer than' and 'shorter than' and use this to help us to order the woolly worms. I can see that the cream worm is the shortest. The white woolly worm is longer than the cream worm but shorter than the purple worm.

[A title over a navy-blue background: Over to you mathematicians…

Below the title in smaller font is text: Find some woolly worms around your home and place them in order from shortest to longest!

Below the text is an image of all the pieces aligned.]

### Speaker

Now it's over to you, mathematicians. Find some woolly worms around your home and place them in order from shortest to longest. Remember, if you don't have woolly worms, you can use leaves, sticks outside, shoes, cutlery or books.

[Over a grey background, the red waratah of the NSW Government logo appears amongst red, white and blue circles. Text: Copyright State of New South Wales (Department of Education), 2021.]

[End of transcript]

## Instructions

• Collect objects from around your house that are different lengths.

• You will also need to get some sticky tape.

• Make sure you check with an adult before collecting your objects.

• Select 2 pieces objects and use direct comparison to measure them against each other and see which is the shortest/longest piece.

• Line up all of your resources order them from shortest to longest.

• Make sure the objects all start in the same starting point.

• If you are using wool, leaves or string you could use sticky tape to tape down one end. This will help you to measure accurately as the ends will all start in the same place.

## Discuss and reflect

• Can you find some things in you house that are longer or shorter than your chosen objects.
• Can you predict which objects will be longer or shorter without lining them up, then check to see if you were right.