The summer holidays are upon us and it is time for a little bit of relaxation. It is also a great time to find some maths to bring back to your classroom in September. Take some photos and make some notes and you will have a ready-made display. Pupils are fascinated by where you went on holiday – make the most of this fact!

Egyptians never wrote a fraction with a numerator bigger than 1. This means that they wrote every fraction as a sum of unit fractions. Take a photo of the pyramids and make a display about Egyptian Fractions. If you could actually find some Ancient Egyptian fractions to take a photo of, then that would be even better. (Stay at home option – you could visit the British Museum.)

If you visit the South of France then look out for enormous fields full of sunflowers. If you examine the seeds inside a sunflower they are arranged in a pattern of spirals. Amazingly if you count how many spirals there are in one direction, then you will usually end up with a Fibonacci Number! There are lots of articles on the web about Sunflower Maths.

You can’t build a successful fortification without geometry. Will you be able to see potential attackers, or will there be blind spots? Will your design be as strong as possible? Take a look at this powerpoint by Professor Chris Budd on the Maths of Castles and Fortifications. It will help you see castles in a completely different light.

The Alhambra is a Moorish palace in southern Spain which is renowned for its amazing tiling patterns. If you search for ‘Islamic Tiling Patterns’ on the TES resources website then there are lots of worksheets to get you started. There are also other buildings in the UK which have interesting tiling patterns, such as the Tiled Hall Café in Leeds.

You might be lucky enough to visit the birthplace of Pythagoras on the Greek island of Samos. If you prefer a cooler climate then you could visit Woolsthorpe Manor in Lincolnshire, the birthplace of Sir Isaac Newton. You could also take a selfie with a blue plaque – why not visit St James’s Square London, you will see a blue plaque showing where Ada Lovelace, pioneer of computing and famous female mathematician lived. It might sound trivial, but it is often little things which can bring maths alive for your pupils.

Think about where you are going on holiday and what maths you might encounter. You could bring back enough material to make a full wall display, or you could come back with a few photos to stick on your wall to prompt discussion. You might also want to save up your material for summer term lessons next year. Getting pupils to research and plan for a fictional holiday can be a really useful activity, and it will be made much more interesting if you include some details of your real holiday planning. (Up to a point – you might not want to reveal your true holiday budget to your Year 7s!)