Big Mathematics Day

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* Grote_Rekendag (dutch)



  • A Dutch initiative to have an annual Mathematics Experience for all students and teachers in primary schools
  • To support professional development of teachers
  • Dutch title: Grote Rekendag


Students in Dutch primary schools spend quite some time working on mathematics. Most teachers spend time on mathematics almost every school day. In the higher grades students are working between 3 and 7,5 hours per week on mathematics, with an average of 5 hours weekly (Janssen, Van der Schoot & Hemker, 2005). In these lessons teachers in general follow instructions from the textbook. All available textbooks are based on ideas from realistic mathematics education; however, these textbooks do not focus students and teachers on reasoning and negotiating on strategies. Textbooks provide all elements for teaching mathematics; every subject is covered and the educational material offers enough for the time spent on mathematics. We observed that this resulted in a situation where mathematics in many Dutch primary school classrooms is limited to relatively short introductions and for the rest of the time individual paper and pencil work. As a consequence we see that many students and their teachers do not experience mathematics as an inspiring activity.

A very limited number of primary school teachers choose to professionalize themselves in mathematics teaching. We do not know why that is so, but observe that most schools do not experience mathematics as a problematic teaching area and as a consequence invest in other fields.

Our consideration for developing the Big Mathematics Day was that the above mentioned situation asked for an easily accessible activity that focuses on mathematical reasoning and that inspires both students and teachers.

How it works

The Big Maths Day for primary schools is a yearly event organised by the Freudenthal team of Utrecht University in cooperation with an educational publisher (Malmberg). It is a wednesday completely dedicated to a variety of inspiring and creative mathematical activities for all all grade-levels of primary school (K-6). Each year a new theme is chosen (see the list of themes below) and activities are designed for all grades on 4 levels: K, 1-2, 3-4, 5-6. Participating schools receive a book with all materials: a brief background, a description for the teachers of all activities (a guide) and the worksheets for students. The day starts with a short activity for all pupils from all grades together. Next pupils go to their own class with their teacher and do the activities for their level. At the end of the day a closing activity for all pupils can be organised in which they can see all the results, this can be open to parents as well.


Year Data Theme Dutch schools
2020 Wednesday, March 25
2019 Wednesday, April, 3 Out of proportion
2018 Wednesday, March 28 The school as a warehouse
2017 Wednesday, March 22 Measuring, moving and constructing
2016 Wednesday, March 23 Behind the (computer) code 1200
2015 Wednesday, March 25 Mathematics (geometry) and art 1200
2014 Wednesday, April 2 Classroom statistics 1200
2013 Wednesday 17 April Amusement Park 903
2012 Wednesday 18 April Animals 830
2011 Wednesday 13 April Are you sure? 869
2010 Wednesday 21 April Body measurement 985
2009 Wednesday 9 April Money 732
2008 Wednesday 16 April It’s about time 683
2007 Wednesday 17 April Geometry, patterns and art 673
2006 Wednesday 8 March Playing with numbers 637
2005 Friday 25 February Counting, tally, drawing. Collect, order and visualize 398
2004 Wednesday 18 February Geometry and measurement 509
2003 Pilot 20


Versions of this document

  • 20180531, update
  • 20160210, update
  • 20120715, update
  • 20081015, wikiteam
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