Archive | January, 2012

Do or Die with dice!

31 Jan

Essential classroom equipment; a set of dice, and ideally large sponge die. They’re in the store cupboard they just need digging out.

Donkey Derby

Or better known as a horse race, in my classroom it is called Derby’s Donkey Derby! Pupils bet a donkey numbered from 1-12. A donkey moves when it’s number is rolled from two dice added together. The first donkey to cross the line wins.

This horse race notebook was contributed to TES resources by Moog, it includes interactive dice.


Simple concept of place value. Teams play against each other to get the highest number, or the highest even number etc. When the die is rolled the team decides whether to keep it or give it away. By keeping it they can place the digit into either units, tens, or hundreds unit. By giving it away to another team they decide which column the other team has to place it.

I use this Nasty template simple grid to keep track of each team.

Roll your question

A quick starter, engages pupils immediately. Display six questions on the board as pupils enter they roll the die and answer the corresponding question. Of course even better if you can have two differentiated sets of questions amber (entry) and green (more challenging).

Pupil selector

When working in groups it is important that all pupils know what they’re doing and understand the work. To keep pupils on their toes avoid the hands up situation and introduce a no hands up rule. This ensures the conversation is flowing as pupils coach each other, roll the die to select the person from each group to feedback, explain or answer a question.

Make 24

Roll the die to get 3 or 4 numbers, pupils must then use these numbers and any operations to make the number 24. If you have enough die, pupils can set their own personal challenge.

Probability Experiment

Conduct a simple experiment, roll a die and record the result in a tally chart. Spice it up by introducing a ten or 12 sided die.


A game for two players, each with a die. They roll simultaneously, the first player to call out the multiplication result of the two numbers wins. Can be powers for calculator use, or addition for low KS3 classes. Pupils keep a track by tally chart of how many games they win, the person that wins the most in a 5minute slot is deemed champion.

Add Sparkle

Add a bit of fun with these giant foam dice available from most suppliers and from Bright Ideas website.

Maths Top Trumps and Other Top Games

29 Jan

In an ideal world my students would be motivated by their love of learning, not because I’m prancing about the classroom like a kids entertainer. Sadly intrinsic motivation is a holy grail I am yet to discover; cue numberloving’s top classroom games to motivate your students and get them learning without even realising.

Top Trumps

This is a popular children’s game which your students will have played before but never like this. See my collection (which are all differentiated) and full instructions on the TES here, there’s also a nice shape properties set here and my new fractions version with celebrities here. Basically students have to work out the questions on their card and challenge their opponent, if they triumph they win the card. Students will quite happily play this as long as you let them, blissfully unaware that on each turn they are working out four questions. You can adapt this idea for most topics and include pictures of whatever you want, including your students!


Time for a classic from Mr Barton, one of his most popular resources are these equivalent fraction snap cards. Fairly self-explanatory, I see this as an idea which could be extended to lots of topics, shape properties, collecting like terms, the list goes on. Keep an eye out on for our new resource section which will feature a collection of snap games.


A popular game show which can be used as a starter or plenary, the collection on the TES contains lots of examples and instructions. You can adapt the Powerpoint to have questions on any topic you want, and the picture behind to be anything you want – this website contains lots of fun dingbats which are great to use as the catchphrases.

Who Wants to be a Millionnaire

This is such a classic and there are so many versions flying around, this is my favourite template, simple and easy to adapt.

Board Games

A board game is another great way to get students so engrossed in competing that they don’t realise how much Maths they are doing, I have shared several board games on the TES which I have listed below, all of these are differentiated, if students land on a question they have to work it out and progress forwards or backwards.

Shrek – substituting into expressions

Simpsons – BIDMAS

Monsters INC – Solving equations

Finding NEMO – Directed numbers

Batman – Percentages of amounts


Bingo is a great game to use as a starter, really hook the students into the lesson, get them to write their solutions on mini whiteboards to bring in a bit of AFL. There are so many games on the TES collection page you may never need to make one yourself, I particularly like the games where students pick their own numbers since you don’t need to print anything.

Rock, Paper, Scissors and Tree Diagrams

26 Jan

This classic game is a great idea from my colleague Lee Gould, to use when introducing tree diagrams.

Pupils play the game in pairs 30 times. Each game is recorded in a simple tally chart, noting if player A wins, player B wins or a draw. Pupils can then look at the relative frequency from their results as well as the whole class results. You can then have discussion about theoretical probability, expectancy and relative frequency.

The tree diagram includes two events; player a’s three options and player b’s three options as independent events. The resultant outcomes are either A wins, B wins or draw. Here you can re-iterate the Or & And rules, as well as recap how to deal with fractions.

Rules of the game; I use this picture to remind pupils of which beats which! Yes unfortunately not all my pupils on one class knew the rules!

Where as avid watchers of Friends sitcom asked “Miss, is Fire allowed? It beats everything but water baloon”.

Resources; Probability Tree Diagrams Here is the power point kindly shared by my colleague Lee Gould, (authored by CBillet) to collect the results and put them into a simple independent tree diagram.

Just for fun; Check out this online game where you play against the computer.

If you use this in class, take a picture and post on twitter @numberloving or @laurareeshughes we’d love to see our ideas in action.

Don’t forget to look out for the new resource section coming soon on

Pimp your classroom

24 Jan

A good display can engage students, involve them, help them recall essential facts and more than anything make your classroom a nice place to be (remember you have to spend all day in there!)

Here are some top ideas and resources to help pimp your classroom…

Interactive Displays:

How do you measure up?

By far my most popular display is this one, a tape measure with various celebrities marked on. Students will be queuing up to see whether they are as tall as Katy Perry and never again will you have to mark an exam paper where someone has estimated that a giraffe  is 2m tall.

Calculation Corner

A good display if you have students who finish and you haven’t prepared an extension. It is just lots of numbers and symbols laminated and cut out, there are lots of possibilities for this:

  • Give students a target number and use it like countdown.
  • Ask them to use all the numbers and symbols to make a calculation which is correct
  • Model how you type something into a calculator

Level & Grade ladders

What do you need to do to improve? The dreaded Ofsted question, a simple way to combat this is with these level and grade ladders. I have adapted these from several sources, printed in A3 and stuck on the wall in a ladder type pattern. Students can check against them to see what they need to do to reach the next level / grade. I also have A4 laminated copies in a wallet underneath for students to check off with a white board pen.

Display students work

Obviously a great thing to do is display students work, they love this and it gives them real pride in their work. But why stop there? Often we have different classes studying similar topics so why not let one class ‘assess’ another’s work. When you put work up have a laminated sheet of plain paper stuck next to each piece, get students to write comments on here with a white board marker.

3D shapes mobile

We blogged a while ago about making 3D shapes from cocktail sticks and midget gems. The beauty of this is that the midget gems go hard after a week or so making the models perfect to display, I have hung mine from the blinds so whenever a question comes up about a 3D shape it’s ready and waiting.

Other display ideas:

Everyone has an opinion on this and I personally think it’s good to have key words and facts displayed, students have said it helps them remember by picturing it in the classroom. This is a good example shared by kute val on the TES, another version probably best for A3 is here.

Mr Taylor has made some fun posters for fans of the popular ‘keep calm’ range, I particularly like the ‘keep calm and use a pencil’ one which now has pride of place above my desk.

This great powerpoint has been shared by allisoncam on the TES, it consists of loads of optical illusions, great to print, laminate and put up.

You can use this resource to create a timeline, each slide on the powerpoint has a famous mathematician from throughout history, you may want to update to include some more recent discoveries.

Most of us have seen wordclouds, this is a great website which allows you to make them in a given shape, I’m thinking all the different shapes made up of their properties!

Other fun things you can buy:

I have regularly blogged about using the windows for display, this is such an easy way to make your classroom a bit more interesting, buy the pens here and off you go!

Lots of places stock number magnets, these are great to have on a radiator or filing cabinet and are just another thing for students to interact with.

So go on, pimp your classroom…

Teaching A Level Maths for Newbies!

22 Jan

New to teaching A’Level in 2009, in this blog we share our ideas, best websites and resources we’ve developed along the way.


These websites were absolutely brilliant for helping me to find my feet and hit the ground running teaching AS and A Level.

1) Mathed Up

This site has resources that are free to download for C1, C2, C3, C4, S1, M1, FP1, FP2, FP3 AND FP4. The resources include teaching Power Points, demonstration excel files, past papers for the AQA scheme and geometer’s sketch pad files. The resources are great but as with all check before delivering to a class.

2) Bring on the Maths

These resources can be used in a number of ways as described here, it is a problem with 12 presented possible solutions. They are great starting point for conversation. Only some of the resources are free, they are great and well worth a mention.

3) Kenny’s Pouch– A Level Schemes of work

Kangaroo maths is a great site for resources, on the link above you will find complete schemes of work with embedded resources, including worksheets and unit assessments. The schemes of work are developed with the EdExcel course in mind but still if you know your specification you can pick and select the resources appropriate.

4) Risps

These are rich starting points created by Johnny Griffis, organised by topic each Risp has a pdf instruction document and a separate pdf with the teachers notes.

5) Mr Barton

A great site for all teaching needs, I found the A Level tarsia jigsaws a gift, click here and scroll down to download zip files containing core jigsaws and don’t miss co-author Laura Rees-Hughes’ jigsaw bundle there too! Here is a decision tarsia created by Laura.

6) Teachnet Resource Project

I don’t know how I came across this core two resource but here it is and it’s great for homework sheets.

7) Centre for Innovation of Mathematics

Course material, not innovative but good notes for filling gaps in knowledge or for pupils to read and supplement their own notes.

8) School Work Out

This site is fantastic for summary sheets for pupils, I direct pupils to this site for revision. This section of the website is great for word documents and lots of end of topic assessments and OCR schemes of work. Again some editing maybe required for your course and pupils.

Don’t be put off by the subscription as there are a number of worthwhile online samples that are free to use.

10) NGfL A’Level Resources

This is not the easiest site to navigate, after selecting the module and then the topic you need to click open this resource to access the page of downloadable resources. All resources are free and include starter activities, videos and interactive teaching resources. This link should take you straight to the core 1 algebra resources. I love the e-chalk resources especially this demonstration of gradient relationship between tangents and normals, click and drag the red dot to move the tangent. Click on the wheel to make sure the normal is shown also.

11) Math Tutor

Thanks to @mismatchtea for pointing me to this site, each section has a video, a pdf, a diagonostic test, exercises and in some cases extension exercise. A great find, thanks again to Mismatch check out their blog here.

This picture of an A Level maths formula tree is from a blog by Priss Lynn, check it out here.
If you have any suggestions to add to the list, let me know I am also on the look out!
Look out for all our resources coming soon to

Post-it addict?

20 Jan

A pupil informed me recently that she’d counted 132 post it notes on the walls of my classroom. It was not until this moment that I realised I may have a problem. They say the first step in solving a problem is admitting you have one so here goes, my top uses of post-it notes in the maths classroom.

Connect thoughts

Anyone who reads Mr Taylor’s Blog will have read about this great idea, a grid of questions which increase in grade or level as you move up the grid. Whilst there are a variety of ways you could use these they are a great way to bring competition as well as differentiation into your lesson. I made this one on solving equations and got students to work in pairs, they each got a different colour of post-it note and had twenty minutes to cover as much of the grid as they could. To claim a square they had to have a fully worked solution to that question on their post-it. They really enjoyed this and it was interesting to see which questions they chose. Next lesson I am going to give them the grid back with someone elses solutions (which I will have removed) and they will have to re-match the solutions to the correct squares.

What am I?

This popular party game can easily be used in the maths classroom. Students work in pairs and each write something on their partners post-it, this is then swiftly attached to their partners forehead, they take it in turns to ask each other yes/no questions to reveal what is on the post-it. This can work for loads of topics but here are a couple I have tried:

Number Types – pupils have to write a number between one and 100, you will find students questioning about factors, multiples, primes, odds and evens without even realising it!

Shapes and their properties – pupils have to draw a shape (works for 2D and 3D), students quickly realise they need a range of questions beyond ‘have I got four sides?’ and will be asking about parallel lines, lines of symmetry and equal angles before you know it!

Fill in the blanks

An idea for a starter is to have some questions on the windows (or board) with numbers or words missing, as students come in they get a few post-its and have to fill in as many blanks as they can. Using the windows is a really good way to engage students, often they become a bit desensitized to the IWB.

Bar Charts or pictograms

Post it’s are great for doing bar charts, all you need is a blank axes and a question. Each student records their response on a post it and then sticks it in the correct position on the graph, this works just as well for pictograms if you get some post-its which are fun shapes. You can then have a discussion about labelling the axes and scales etc.

Plotting lines and curves

A fun way to teach plotting lines and curves is to allocate each pair of students an ‘x’ value, they must work out the corresponding ‘y’ value and write it on their post-it. They can then all plot them on a set of axes the board and you can discuss the pattern etc.

Peer assessment

In my experience students really like assessing each others work if you give them some pupils speak level descriptors. It’s hardly groundbreaking but I often ask them to write their assessments on post-its, they have two each, one for the level with a reason which references the criteria and one for how they could have reached the next level.

Feedback on books

I sometimes have the problem of students not reading feedback in their books so I mix it up a bit and occasionally give them feedback on a post-it on the front of their book, they will read it straight away as it is different.

Afl strategies

Post-its are great for lots of AFL strategies. You can ask students to write ‘one thing you have learnt’ and ‘one question you still have’ on post-its and then stick them on a wall or window. These can be reviewed by you to inform your planning and they can be reviewed at the end of the next lesson to see if students questions are now answered.

Another nice AFL activity is to ask students to write their name on a post-it and place themselves on a scale of confidence which refers to the objectives of the lesson (this can be on a wall or on the board). You can review this as often as you like to see if students are making progress, especially good if you are being observed and need to evidence progress in a short space of time.

Secret questions

I love the secret question! Before the lesson you stick a post-it under a chair with a question on, this can be about anything for example ‘give me three key things you learnt last lesson’. At some point in the lesson you shriek ‘secret question’ and the students have to all check under their chair, the chosen one has to read out the question and an answer (remember to give them some thinking time!).

Happy post-it-ing!

Speed Dating with Data Collection

19 Jan

Another great idea I got from Leanne Robson, a speaker at the SSAT Achievement show in London. Don’t forget Numberloving authors (myself and Laura) will be presenting at the North West Innovation Show, sister show to the Achievement show.

Data collection has never been so fun! Taking the element of speed dating, but with the purpose of collecting data not finding a match! You can collect data on a theme, about your pupils, a nice ice breaker or even conduct your pupil voice survey this way.

Set Up

Ideally the room will be set up as a circle of desks, with a chair either side, or circles of pairs of facing chairs in the middle of the room. Depending on the group (and your photocopying situation) you may wish to print tally tables ready for each pupil. In addition you may wish to set the questions, or give more freedom for pupils to collect a question of their choice.


Here are some tally tables ready for printing;

For general data collection; tallychart collection

For conducting pupil voice survey; Student voice speed date

Mood Setting

It wouldn’t be speed data collection without the right atmosphere, here are some of my favourites;

%d bloggers like this: