Activity 1: Estimate a minute
The learners must sit with their heads on their arms or with their eyes closed so that they will not be distracted. When the time judge says go, they start to estimate or guess when a minute has passed and when they think they have reached a minute sit up and raise a hand.
Note how many guesses are short of a minute and how many are still ‘heads down’ when a minute is up. Make a tally of how many learners sat up in 10 second segments of the minute as an indication of how accurate the group as a whole were.
If an interactive whiteboard is available, use a silent timer on that, so that learners can record for themselves how many seconds had passed when they sat up.
Repeat the exercise now that the learners have experienced what a minute in that situation feels like and record as before. Discuss whether the second attempt was more or less accurate.
Explain that they will now be doing an activity that will help them ‘feel’ a minute.
Activity 2: How many jumping jacks in a minute?
Firstly, ensure that all of the learners understand what a jumping jack is. Have one give a demonstration if possible, so that all are doing the same exercise.
Description of a jumping jack: Begin with the feet together and hands by the sides. Jump on the spot, landing with the feet apart and hands raised so that the arms and legs form an X. Jump again landing back in the first position. This counts as 1 jumping jack.
Divide the group into pairs. In each pair one learner will jump and the other will count.
Have each pair estimate how many jumping jacks they think they will be able to do in a minute. Using a stopwatch, give a signal to start and stop jumping. (A whistle will be useful here if available.) The counter notes down the number that their partner did and then they swap roles and repeat the exercise.
At the end of the activity keep the records of how many jumps learners did as you may want to use them later depending on which follow up activities you intend to use.
Activity 3: Re-estimate a minute
Discuss the various ways the learners could make their estimates more accurate. Some may want to try to use the number of jumping jacks they did to help them ‘count’ a minute. Others may have heard of other methods, such as ‘one one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand, etc. Or they may have come across ‘one Mississippi, two Mississippi,’ etc.
Repeat activity one and compare the accuracy with the first attempts. Discuss which methods were the most effective and give the learners a chance to have a go at one of the others.
After the 30-minute lesson you may wish to follow on with some of the linked activities suggested in the Notes for Teachers at https://www.bubblymaths.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Just-a-Minute.pdf
8309 learners from 8 countries took part in this MathsFun Guinness World Record attempt lesson on Friday 10 November 2017. Thank you to Caroline Bubblz Ainslie, Marion Freeman and Cherri Moseley.