Tag Archives: maths

Low-tech mental oral starter 2

Another popular low-tech starter is a version of the memory game ‘I went shopping.’ In the maths version children take it in turns to say

‘I went shopping with £x.xx and I bought something (let the children choose, it adds to the fun) that cost £x.xx, what change should I get.’

This activity lends itself to circle time maths and pretty much to any age groups which have worked with money. Older children could add the ideas of a % discount or price rises too. The children will really enjoy making up problems to extend their friends maths skills!

Using tutpup in my classroom.

I was introduced to Tutpup through Year Six Teacher’s Blog in this article. It is an online mental maths and spelling game in which the children play against children around the world, in realtime. It is also free.

To begin, the teacher needs to sign up first as… a teacher. Once this is done you can create classes for your pupils to use. I currently have two classes, one for my class and one for my maths class. You set a class code for each of your classes and the children need this when they sign up. It would be possible for one teacher login to run many of the classes in a school but I wouldn’t recommend this. Each teacher would be better creating a teacher login as they then have access to the data on how their children are progressing, and can move their children onto the games which will develop their pupils skills appropriately. Once the teacher has logged in and created a class or classes the children are ready to be introduced to the program.

The children create their own login using this simple interface. They choose a colour, animal and then a number and that is their playername. They then need to create their own password – on a side issue password creation, remembering and retrieval is a skill that our children need so much now for their lives inside and outside of education, do we discuss this enough with them? – and the enter the class login that the teacher creates in their login process.

You may find that some of the colour and animal combinations have gone (i.e. they do not have any numbers left), but the children in my class really supported each other in this. As soon as one child had found a colour and animal that had numbers, they told the class who then went to that combination and created their login.



A new game which I’ve introduced to my class is drench.  I’m not sure where how I found the game, I thought it was via the Guardian Technology Pages but it was actually via a comment on their report on ‘Games to relax you’.

The game involves the player selecting one of 6 colours and trying to change all of the board into 1 colour in 30 moves or less. Drench has proved very popular with many of the children in my class, although not with myself as I am very colour blind and find I cannot tell a 2 pairs of the colours apart from each other!

To find a winning strategy children (or adults) have to plan what colours lie around the ‘active’ area (the area which they can change the colour for) and plan 2 or 3 moves ahead. It develops spatiality and thinking ahead, and like many of the best games contains simple gameplay which remains challenging through successively harder levels.

I find using it in the final 2 minutes around play or break works really well with my class and I have tried children working in table groups to complete the puzzle as quickly as they can. I also  use it in plenaries and also introductions to maths sessions to revisit bit of spatial learning.

Spatial awareness, as I have mentioned previously, is an area I feel ICT (especially games based learning) can make large developments as children have the opportunity to explore spaces in an enjoyable context.

Wii Sports for Mean, Mode and Median.

My final lesson of the week to involve the Wii used the practice option for batting on Wii sports baseball.
I decided that I wanted to create a larger range of numbers for the children to find the median number of. Wii sports baseball batting practice allows you to have 10 swings at 10 pitches. It records (quite quickly) what the distance is that you hit it. It was this data we recorded for our averages lesson.

As with the bowling, there were 10 numbers to record, meaning we had to split the 5th and 6th numbers to find the median.
After a discussion about the best way to do this, we managed quite well and got better at it as we progressed through the tables taking their turns at batting. The children were by now quite good at finding the mean and mode for the range of numbers.

One of the more interesting discussions we had whilst using the Wii for averages, was the way the modal average differed between the bowling game and the baseball game. In the bowling game, the mode was 10, and the mean average score was frequently around 9. The children could clearly see that the mode and mean were closely related in that scenario.

However, despite some of my group being ace sluggers, (the record was 7 homers out of 10 attempts!), the mode for each set distances was 0. This was not close to the mean average, which was around 110m. We briefly discussed the reasons behind this and talked about which average is most useful in which situations.

One final thought about the Wii bowling. The scoring of bowling is quite complex when spares and strikes are involved (which with my class they always seemed to be) I wonder i there is some maths to be investigated  in how the scores are made, maybe with a secondary class devising new scoring methods for bowling and using the Wii bowling game to see how they would work, comparing the scoring methods with each other.

The children throughout the week certainly enjoyed our use of the Wii, and they seem to have learned how to calculate the mean, mode and median averages for a set of numbers.

An enjoyable and productive week in maths.

Wii for Mean, Mode and Median – The Outcome.

I thoroughly enjoyed our maths session on Monday, using the wii and I think the children did as well. As ever, I’ve learned a few things which would lead to a few ‘tweaks’ if I was to do it again. Before I discuss those I must say the P7 children are all far better ten-pin bowlers on the wii than I am and had a range of entertaining styles all of which proved to highly effective!

The lesson had a sparkle to it to begin with as the class noticed straight away that the wii was set up. ‘Are we using the wii in maths?’ was a popular question!

That moved on to ‘We’re not using brain training are we?’ which I found interesting and probably reinforced the point that just having a wii on for maths isn’t enough. It needs to be properly targetted and integral to the lesson, not just the lesson itself.

We formed our teams and each team played out their first frames, and we got used to recording our scores. Bowling is good for this, as you can pause between throws to make sure everyone is up to speed.

On the second frame I introduced the idea of modal average. The skills on show ensured that we quickly identified 10 as the modal score. The class found this quite easy.

After the third frame for each team we introduced the mean average. We needed a bit of calculation help on this to get the division by 12 done. We also spent some time working on rounding to 2 d.p.

After the fourth frame we began to find the median also. In hindsight I shouldn’t have had 4 teams, as it meant we always had an even number of scores to find the median for, and this made understanding of this concept harder.

We carried on and completed the game. I changed my idea of getting the averages onto the board and adding on points as I felt I didn’t want to pressurise the groups too much! We also dropped finding the mode after 6 frames as it was always going to be 10!

In summary the class and I enjoyed it, the lesson had an exciting feel to it and I feel the children learned the objectives I had for them at the start of the lesson.


Wii Sports for Mean, Median and Modal averages.

I’m teaching averages this week with my maths group and I decided yesterday to begin the week by using wii sports bowling to create the data for is to work with. I first came across the idea of using the wii for maths through Tom Barrett’s Site and from Tom’s interesting ways.

I know the children will enjoy using the wii – it’s always the most popular choice in Golden Time, so that part of the plan seems fine.

I also know from assessment of the group that they need to learn about averages. Averages can tend to be a once or twice a year topic so I thought using the wii would make it memorable and thus allow the children to recall their learning easily.

I’m going to split my group into 8 groups of 3, and then into 4 groups of 6. These groups will then be the 4 teams for bowling, with each team member bowling consecutively on their team.

The teams will each have to fill in a scoresheet for each bowl from every team. This will just record the total for both throws (not the actual bowling score with strikes and spares).

From round 2 onwards we will calculate in each team, the mean, median and modal score for the entire game. One member from each team will then write their answers on the board. If the team gets all 3 answers correct I will award 5 more pins to their team score in the final total at the end (or on the excel on the IWB, not sure yet!)

We will do this until the game is complete.

I need to think about where I position the wii and TV in the class and how to place the tables I will have to move. I need space for the bowlers and space to let the group see the events. I need access to the chalk board for teams to write their averages up and also space for them to work without other groups overhearing them!

I’m really looking forward to it, let’s see what happens!



We’ve been doing shape in class this week and I’ve been trying to find some more interesting ways for the children to learn. I find that children have a set visual idea of certain shapes, and when they are confronted with a shape that doesn’t conform to that idea, they cannot define it. For example when asked about a hexagon, the children will think of the regular hexagon shape, yet a hexagon is any polygon with 6 lines (the l shape is often found to be a problem).

To address this we did lots of work on pinboards, drawing shapes with certain properties. For example, on a 3 by3 pinboard, draw a hexagon which has 4 right angles. This practical activity got us all thinking and certainly seemed to help move away from pre-conceived ideas about what a shape should look like.

A resource I used a lot this week was a book called ‘Activities and Problems, Shape and Space’ from the Gateshead Numeracy Team. I have my copy from when I taught in Gateshead, given freely to Gateshead teachers, but now it costs £20 from the GAL education website. The book contains a lot of great ideas for teaching shape. It has a mixture of some games, some active maths lessons and some challenging shape and space problems.

Another book I used was Measures, shape and space for Y7.  This has some really challenging shape and space activities which extend the children as well as some good games which can be played at a variety of levels.

I also got the children to create posters for the facts about shape we had discovered during the week. This was a popular activity which helped to reinforce the properties of shape we had been learning.

A website I found and wish I had found at the start of the week was Tangram. Children enjoy trying to solve tangrams but often the cutting up of pieces of paper and the subsequent lost pieces makes the lesson more of a challenge than it should be. The website solves all these problems and allows the children the chance to try to create a variety of shapes from the given tangram.

Maths Maps – Edinburgh

Tom Barrett has come up with a fantastic idea for using google maps to create maths maps. The idea, like many brilliant ones, is simple. You find an area (I did Edinburgh as it’s local, so I know it) and put in place markers in certain areas and attach maths questions to them.  Children can then work through them in and out of school and answer the questions.

Because of the way google maps is shared people all over the world can collaborate with these maps (including children as part of their learning). You can use different coloured markers for different levels of questions. I’m really looking forward to trialling it in school during our maths week.

Here is a link to my maths map. http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=100326449397226863158.00047b1da8e296c504701&z=11

Here is a link to the maths map area of Tom’s blog. http://edte.ch/blog/maths-maps/

And finally here is a link to Tom’s blog, which I think is brilliant. http://edte.ch/blog/

[googlemaps http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=100326449397226863158.00047b1da8e296c504701&t=h&ll=55.946893,-3.223801&spn=0.134573,0.291824&z=11&output=embed&w=425&h=350]

A spatial thinking game

My class are currently enjoying the game PHIT. It’s a bit like tetris.You have to fit shapes together in certain ways inside a yellow oblong (I think it’s yellow, I’m very colour blind).

I really enjoy using games like this as the children really get into it -it was the talk of the class this morning with children saying what level they had got onto at home. It also addresses an area which I feel many children need to develop – spatial awareness. Many children seem to have it, but often those who haven’t got a natural spatial awareness do not get enough exposure to activities to help them develop one. This activity, I feel, will help a lot.

I found it on the NCETM primary maths magazine edition 17 (which includes some great ideas about linking maths with the art of Andy Goldsworthy) and this version is hosted on the coolmath-games website.

Here is the link http://www.coolmath-games.com/0-phit/index.html

Murderous Maths

I’m enjoying looking through all the educational links I’ve saved in my bookmarks and having a bit of clear out. I went back and looked at this site, http://www.murderousmaths.co.uk/ There are some great quirky tricks and games on there on the surprisingly titled ‘Tricks and Games’ page. The guy who runs it also comes into schools and does a Murderous Maths show. I’d be interested to hear from anyone who’s had him in to find out how much the children enjoyed it.