Inspired by the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, BBC Two Learning Zone has produced a new series of video maths challenges for Key Stages 1, 2 and 3. Developed with input from us (the University of Cambridge's Millennium Mathematics Project), 3, 2, 1, Go! sees real schoolchildren solve problems given to them by Olympic champions and sporting heroes.

Key Stage 1 - Gymnastics Shape Finding Challenge

3, 2, 1, Go! is a sports-maths challenge show which reveals how important maths is to sport. Watch as two gymnastics-mad Key Stage 1 schoolchildren are taken to the Heathrow Gymnastics Club in Greater London. They meet Olympic hopeful Daniel Purvis, and are set a maths challenge related to gymnastics. The challenge is to take pictures of Daniel doing various moves and mark on the photos the shapes they can see.

Possible uses in the classroom:

Set the scene by asking the children what gymnastics is and what sorts of events are included. Gymnasts are given a mark by the judges. What are the judges looking for to give high marks?

Show the video up to where the challenge is given. Ask the children what sort of shapes they think Daniel will make and make a record of them on the board.

Show the rest of the video and ask the children if they can see any additional shapes.

In pairs, the children make as many different shapes with their bodies as they can, and to keep a record.

Bring the class back together and ask each pair to show their best shape. If you have a camera, take photographs which can be annotated for a diplay.


The video used 2-d shapes. What 3-d shapes do they know? Could they make some of these with their partner? Which were the easiest? Hardest?


Give children cards with named pictures of 2-d shapes on. They choose one at random and work in pairs to make the shapes. Can they make each shape in more than one way?

Related resources

  • Opening Patterns This activity is aimed at young primary school children at KS1; it encourages them to develop their understanding of shape and gives opportunities to develop their mathematical language as they discuss what they see.
  • Olympic Rings This KS1 activity explores shapes and circles by encouraging children to look really hard at something they will see very often in the run-up to London 2012.

The following problems from our NRICH website explore some of the mathematical ideas encountered in this activity:

  • Chain of Changes This KS1 activity will help children to refer to the shapes by name and visualise the next shape to place in the pattern. It will also encourage them to use a trial and improvement approach in solving problems.
  • Jig Shapes This KS1 group activity encourages children to work together as a team and helps to develop mathematical language about shape and position.
  • Matching Triangles This KS1 activity is a good one to try with young children once they are familiar with the properties of a triangle. The activity will require pupils to look carefully at each shape and scrutinise its properties.
  • Tangram Tangle How many new shapes can you make with this square that has been cut into two pieces? This more challenging KS1 activity includes an interactivity as well as printable copies of the shapes.

Learning outcomes

KS1 curriculum:

[Ma3 1d] use the correct language for shape, space and measure

[Ma3 2b] observe, handle and describe common 2-D and 3-D shapes, including triangles of various kinds, rectangle including squares, circles, cubes…

[Ma3 2c] create 2-D shapes and 3-D shapes

Commissioned by BBC Two Learning Zone with advice from Lynne McClure (Director of NRICH, Millennium Mathematics Project, University of Cambridge), the clips were produced in collaboration with BBC Sport.

Related resources

Our KS1 activity Opening Patterns encourages children to develop their understanding of shape and gives opportunities to develop their mathematical language as they discuss what they see.