Combine math with art in one of our favourite hundred square activities – can you make 100 colours?
100 colours hundred square activities
This activity blends math and art, and encourages children to think about what 100 really means. We use visual art to help give them a hands-on, concrete understanding of the concepts of numbers, counting, place value and patterns. You can do this individually or as a small group activity.
We start by taking a big sheet of paper – you can use wallpaper, gift wrap, decorators’ lining paper, a roll from an easel, or butchers’ paper. We use a pencil and a ruler to draw out a ten by ten square grid, which will be the framework for our hundred square. Using a set square for the corners will help you be more accurate with your lines.
The 100 colour challenge
Then comes the 100 colours challenge. Can you paint each and every square in your grid a different colour? Yes, really – can you invent 100 different shades? Your children might think this is impossible – or maybe they are confident that they can.
We used a simple watercolour palette (affiliate link) to paint our hundred square. We had 14 colours to begin with – only 86 to invent! The children will need to experiment with colour blending to be able to fill all the boxes.
It’s interesting to listen to the children as they work and ask some questions.
How many colours exist?
How do you create different colours?
Is it possible to invent a brand new colour?
What’s their favourite colour?
How would they describe different colours?
Can they make up names for the different shades they are blending?
Completing the one hundred colours challenge is a great exercise in its own right, and you will produce a beautiful work of art when you’re finished. Take a minute to admire your one hundred colours – can you see any patterns in your grid? Are they any colours which are very similar, with just a subtle difference between them?
100 square activities
We can then use our colour 100 square for some math activities.
I love to have materials available to use for math that look so appealing. There is so much cross-over between math and art and it’s a pleasure to work on math using something so beautiful. It’s a great aid to children who learn through visual input.
Once the paint was completely dry, I used a permanent marker to draw on the numbers one to 100, with one number in each square on the grid. Your children might like to write in the numbers themselves, but I think it is important here to make sure all the numbers are written correctly. As you will be able to use the 100 square for lots of different math activities it’s important to present the numbers in the right form, to reinforce the correct way to write them.
How to use a hundred square
How do you use a hundred square with your children? Sometimes simply having it on display lets them almost daydream about it, and they might surprise you by telling you about a number pattern they’ve spotted on it. With such a beautiful hundred square there’s even more reason to have it out on display, ready to use when you need it.
I encourage my children to use the number square anytime they want to have a visual reference to help them answer a math question. You’ll notice the way they use the hundred square changes as they develop their math skills. Young children might use it for basic counting, older children might refer to it for times tables help.
You can find lots of ideas for using a number line in our archive, which work well on a hundred square, but here’s an idea we love to give a clear visual picture of what One Hundred really means.
Counting real things
In our Garden Classroom we like to count how much produce we are growing over the year. When it was time to harvest the last of the summer tomatoes we gathered a gorgeous basket of all different shades of tomato – a nice match with our one hundred colours. But how many tomatoes did we have? At first glance we didn’t think there was a hundred. To my daughter One Hundred is still such a big number and she didn’t think we could possibly have that many homegrown tomatoes.
So, we counted them. Using our one hundred square was a great way to match the tomatoes with the written numbers, and it was a fun game to lay out the rather roly-poly tomatoes. As we got closer to filling up every square on our grid we still had lots and lots of tomatoes in our basket. Can you guess how many tomatoes we had in total?
Three hundred and thirty six! Wowsers. Maybe 100 isn’t such a big number after all.
More creative math activities
If you like combining math and art, and if you’re looking for play-based exploration and discovery of math and science concepts, come and take a look at our Fizz, Pop, Bang! Playful Science and Math Activities.
And for more math-meets art resources, join my ART of CIRCLES workshop.