Tag Archives: starters

Low-tech mental oral starter!

Just a quick post. I got reminded listening to my partner’s daughter this evening that the most interesting and effective things in teaching can also be the simplest.

Her maths teacher uses a variation of the ’11’ game to practice counting down, through hundred barriers.  To play you would stand up all the class and begin with a random child and a number near a hundreds barrier (214 for example). Each child subtracts either 1,2 or3 numbers from 214 until some child says 197. The child who says 197 sits down and are out. So a sample game might go,








197 OUT!

You play until only one person is left in.

You can also use an extension to this game. That is for the winning player’s table to get a reward of house points etc. The children then have to use a planning strategy to try to keep their table’s members in.

I’ll be giving it a go with my maths class tomorrow!


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.

Literacy Starters

Primary Pete has posted on Twitter asking about favourite literacy starter ideas. He said he liked the ideas on everybody writes which features the ideas of Pie Corbett. I was lucky enough to attend a writing conference run by Pie Corbett in Jan 2007, and despite a raging toothache (mine,not his!) I thought he was great. Great enthusiasm for writing and really good ideas. I’d not come across the everybody writes site before, but I will be using it a lot in class I think for English starters.

The main resource I use for starting English lessons are the VCOP activities I downloaded from the TES resource bank. The link for these resources is here. The activities are self-explanatory and allow for focus on one of the VCOP areas. Importantly when I use these activities there is a buzz around the class with the children wanting to take part and try out new and interesting ideas. These ideas are often reflected in their subsequent writing.