Maths and party are not two words you often hear in the same sentence but party games provide us with some great ways to engage students in the classroom. Here are a few of my favourite ideas:

Pass the parcel:

A simple idea which is great for a starter. this works very much as the party game but each layer has a question selotaped to it, before students can unwrap their layer they have to answer the question! In the past I have asked each student to write a question on a slip of paper as a plenary, then I use these questions in the pass the parcel the following lesson. I have done this with GCSE groups too and used exam questions cut up from a past paper. Students to the left and right can peer mark the answer to check it is correct! I have my classroom organised into five tables so I make five ‘parcels’ so each table has one to pass around, but you could adapt this depending on how your room is set up. All you need is some music and a prize for the middle and away you go!

Balloon modelling:

Balloon modelling is an exciting venture for anyone, old or young, this PowerPoint “Welcome to the fun fair!!” takes you through the steps needed to make a balloon dog. Students have to measure their balloon (bought cheaply from homebargains, be sure to leave a 10cm section at the end which is un-inflated) then work out and mark the fractions on (starting from the end which is tied), then they fold and twist. It really is simple and makes a great fun lesson when studying fractions of amounts, it could be adapted to work for percentages or ratio. You could also extend the idea and get students to investigate making some of their own models! The video below shows how to make the twists, if you have younger students you may want to do this for them:

Four corners

This is great for types of shapes or number types. In each corner of the room you have a picture of a shape or a number hung up. You call out a property such as ‘four vertices’ or ‘square number’ and students must go to the corner which fits that property. If students go to the wrong one they are ‘out’ and should sit down, you can make it progressively more challenging by having several conditions they have to meet.

Simon says

This is a classic which can be adapted for practising drawing shapes, you give an instruction – for example ‘Simon says draw a horizontal line 4 cm in length’ and students have to do it, you continue on in this way until they have constructed a shape, the catch is sometimes you give an instruction which does not start with ‘Simon says’ in this case they should not follow it. Get ready for chaos!

Keep tuned as this week I will also be blogging about dance maths… Get in touch @numberloving and check out our free and premium resources in our NumberLoving Store.

The joy of laughter is not to be denied even in the learning environment. I like to think pupils are laughing with me when I crack my latest mathematical based jokes, even with comments like “Miss, that’s your worst one yet”, I know they enjoyed it really!

We have developed a few ideas of how jokes can be used in the classroom to motivate and engage learners, as well as creating a great atmosphere!

2) Hunt a joke
This can be the easiest way to liven up a activity which at NumberLoving we call “bog standard worksheet” into a motivating and engaging activity.

Simply take the answers in order, to any worksheet and match them each with a word (if enough words, letters if not) on laminated cards that have been placed on the walls around the classroom. When pupils have completed their work and had it marked they can then move around the rooms collect the words or letters in the order of the answers to form the joke or secret message.

Check out this simplifying surds worksheet, which is differentiated to three levels of difficulty, hunt cards and solutions.

3) Treasure hunt

You may have already seen our treasure hunt resources. This is a slight adaptation, in which with each treasure hunt card a word from the joke or a letter to punch line is added to each card.

For a healthy supply of those all important mathematics jokes check out this forum discussion on the TES as well as this previous post on maths jokes.

My favourite “What did the zero say to the eight?”

Punchline; “Nice belt”

Get in touch @numberloving or numberloving@outlook.com and check out our free and premium resources in our NumberLoving Store.

Mirror mirror on the wall. Who is the fairest of them all?

Beauty is often linked closely with the symmetry of the face meaning there are many applications in the classroom!

Reflecting faces

For the hook to my reflection lesson I created a short investigation into beauty of the rich and famous! Some stars with a symmetrical face (Angelina Jolie) and some stars not so fortunate (Wayne Rooney and Susan Boyle).

Find a portrait photo of the star (or pupils can investigate their own face) and paste the photo into Power Point three times. The first gets left as it is, the second they crop to just show the left side of the face, the third the right side of the face.

Then make a copy of each half face, select one of the half faces and in the picture tools go to rotate and flip horizontal. They can then compare the reflected celebrities with the original! Here is a Power Point of some of the famous faces I looked at with my year 7 class.

Please note your school’s policy regarding photography of pupils.

On-line web cams like this one are great for school laptops with built-in cameras, pupils can look at their face using the symmetry camera. Be warned this is not something to do at the beginning of your lesson!

Substituting into expressions

On the topic of beauty this is another activity I use when studying substitution into expressions. Students have to measure lengths on the faces and sub into the expressions, the closer to 1 their answers the more ‘attractive’ the face (the expressions are all based on the golden ratio). I ask them to find the mean of all their answers and then order the celebrities. Measuring lengths, substitution, calculator skills, surds, averages and ordering decimals, so much Maths and they won’t even realise! You could of course ask them to do it with their own faces but in my experience this quickly descends into chaos!

You could even start with this video from the BBC or this video all about the golden ratio presented by none other than Carol Vorderman!

Get in touch @numberloving and check out our free and premium resources in our NumberLoving Store.

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. Follow the tabs for KS5 at the top to access resources.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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. 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.

Thanks to @mismatchtea for pointing me to this site, each section has a video, a pdf, a diagnostic test, exercises and in some cases extension exercise. A great find, thanks again to Mismatch!

This picture of an A Level maths formula tree is from a blog by Priss Lynn

If you have any suggestions to add to the list, let me know I am also on the look out! Get in touch @numberloving and visit our NumberLoving store for free and premium resources!!

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.

Thoughts and Crosses

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 else’s 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! Get in touch @numberloving and visit our NumberLoving store for free and premium resources!!