Tag Archives: learning

Mathematical Taboo!

17 Sep

We have been a bit quiet on the blog since the Summer but we’re now back with lots in store for the new academic year!

To kick things off how about a game of taboo? Taboo is a really simple, fun and occasionally frustrating game where you have to describe a word to your partner without using the three ‘taboo’ words. These are an amazing way of consolidating key words and concepts as well as promoting communication and team work!


This works well if students work in fours and  split into two teams of two. Team one have say, two minutes to get through as many words as they can with one member describing and one person guessing. Whilst this is happening team two are timing them and keeping a close eye on the ‘taboo’ words to make sure they are not used. Once the time is up the teams swap over.

In the style of many of our resources these cards are differentiated. Each set comes with 8 green and 8 red cards. The words are taken from the key vocabulary in the national strategy, the red cards are words from year 7 and 8, the green cards are words from year 9. Students could split the cards into two piles and pick which one to play with or you could direct them, I often suggest they get 2 points for a green word and 1 point for a red word. So far we have 6 sets on Number Loving covering key topics.

Variations on the game

Once a word has been guessed additional points can be gained by guessing what the ‘taboo’ words are on the card

Students get blank versions and make their own with the key words from a specific topic or unit!

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


End of term resources

3 Jul

The summer holidays are almost upon us so here are some of our top resources and activities to see you through until the end of term. Have a great summer holiday from Number Loving!

Olympic themed resources

If you are after an Olympic themed lesson then try out our Olympic top trumps  and Olympic mysteries. With four mysteries to pick from and the solutions included there should be something for most abilities.

Also Kentishman has shared a wide variety of good quality Olympic themed starters which are well worth a look.

Other bits and bobs

Craig Barton has put together a collection of the top ten end of term resources available on the TES (try saying that quickly!) have a look here for some great ideas.

One of the best end of term games I have come across is Paul Collins’ Pirate game which is available on the TES here. Basically students place money and other symbols in a 7×7 grid, as you call out the grid references they get whatever they had placed in that square. With symbols such as the ‘steal’ which allows them to steal another persons money and the skull and crossbones which lets them wipe out a whole rows scores this is a very lively game which the students will love. I plan on putting a bit more Maths in (for example a ‘squared’ square which lets them square their total).

I discovered these blank Facebook profiles on the TES a while ago and was thinking of a way to use them. I plan on giving students a famous Mathematician and getting them to research this person in order to fill in their Facebook profile. Printed A3 and laminated they should make for an interesting display. I adapted the one off the TES slightly you can download it here.

This week I am doing a ‘sign post project’ with my Year 7’s to consolidate the work we did on measures and conversions. I wanted to put some sign posts up around the school with the distances to different places on, e.g. Science block 30m, Manchester  150 miles. So I decided to get the students to make them. I have split the class into groups and have given each group a different location within the school where their sign post will go. They’ve had to work out the distance from this place to other locations within the school and further afield, then convert their measures so they were all in m, km and miles. They’ve used trundle wheels and tape measures in the school and Google earth for the others. Here’s the PowerPoint I used with a bit more info on.

I often use my CSI mysteries towards the end of term for a fun lesson which still involves a lot of maths. See the collection on the TES here.

I’ll also be using Hama beads and this Cocktails project which I have blogged about previously. If we get any nice weather the cocktails go down really well!

If you use any of the ideas we would love to hear about it, tweet us @laurareeshughes and @numberloving.

Jubilee? We’ve got it covered.

24 May

Next weekend marks the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and gives us an opportunity in class for some royal fun (!) I will be using these top trumps cards as a starter which feature familiar faces from the royal family and sums relating to the number 60.

I will then be getting my class to try a mystery. I have made three to pick from (see resource on the TES here) across a range of Mathematical topics and each relating to one of the events taking place during the celebration.

As a plenary I’ll be posing the question ‘how many ways can we make 60’ and students will share their examples on the window (see below). They will have to use the numbers between 1 and 10 and any operations they can think of, the most imaginative solution will win a suitably British prize! If you use any of these resources why not let us know how it goes @laurareeshughes and @numberloving. For some other great jubilee themed resources check out this collection on the TES…

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

Take a bet…

10 May

Clearly gambling is not something which we should be promoting in Maths, but allowing students the opportunity to gamble opens up the chance to discuss the moral, social and financial implications in a real way. When teaching probability as an end of unit project (in pairs) I ask students to create a game, this is an idea which I adapted from this resource on the TES.  I usually start the lesson by giving an example of a game for them to think about – powerpoint here. Then they have to design their own and make sure the odds are in their favour, they have to work out the probability of winning and losing, think about pricing and prizes and from this work out their expected profit if 10 or 100 people play. This can be easily differentiated through outcome and I have done it with low ability year 7 up to top set year 9 by just adapting the success criteria.


Once they have had a lesson to design their game, make any resources and do all the maths you need to get your hands on some plastic money. Each team gets £10 (their games should cost between 0-£2 to play) and the students set up their games like a fair, they have the opportunity to go around playing one another’s games. Once ten people have played their game they should ‘shut down’ their stall. After this, get students to count their money and see whether they made the expected profit they calculated the previous lesson. You can then have a great discussion about why they didn’t make their expected profit (experiments differ from theory) and whether they still have their original £10 and how this relates to gambling in real life – e.g. the house always wins!

This is a fun project but also a great opportunity to assess and explore lots of elements of probability. If you like this idea you may also like this resource on the TES which is brilliant and includes several games for students to investigate before making their own.

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

Treasure Hunts

7 May

Treasure hunt resources are very versatile, with great advantages such as pupil engagement, reduced photocopying, easy differentiation, and pair work.

There is a wide range of ready prepared and differentiated treasure hunts available to download for free on our resource shop here and Laura Rees-Hughes has a good collection here.  All you need to do is download, print the resource, laminate and slice. These cards are then stuck up around the learning area for pupils to hunt down.

Here is a screen shot of just two cards from a higher level GCSE treasure hunt.  The amber cards represent the easier route, and the green would be the higher or more challenging route.

There are a number of ways to run a treasure hunt;


Post the cards around the room or outside or any space really! Pupils work in pairs and work either on the amber route or the green route. They can be given starting points or simply start on the card nearest to their seat. Pupils then answer the question at the bottom of the card, when they have the answer they then move around the room until they find the card with that answer on. The activity is over when a pair get back to the card they started on therefore have completed the route.

Follow Me

This is possible for the treasure hunts that do not include a diagram. Each pupil has a card and reads the question, the person with the answer states the answer and then reads the next question. Again this activity is complete when we return to the card you started with.

Card Sort

With the cards printed and laminated pupils work in groups to sort the cards into a loop. This is great for group discussion and I used it as part of a revision carousel.


The cards are easily differentiated with most having two levels of difficulty, you can add as many levels of difficulty you require for the class. In addition it is good to set a challenge for gifted pupils to create a treasure hunt for the rest of the class to complete as a plenary or starter activity.

Collect a Joke

Combine this idea with collect a joke by adding a word of the joke punch line to each answer, pupils collect the words as the go. This just adds an extra dimension.

We hope your class and yourself enjoy the ideas and if you have any more ideas we’ve not thought of we would love to hear them. Get in touch @numberloving and check out our free and premium resources in our TES NumberLoving Store.

Dance Maths

22 Apr

Dancing and Maths may not seem like an obvious combination, perhaps because dancing is generally considered to be good fun. This idea came about as part of an open evening which was Disco themed but it has now become a regular activity in my lessons.

The idea centres around the fact that lots of maths questions have an answer between 1 and 99. To start you will need a class set of ‘dance mats’, I made mine using some non-slip fabric meant for swimming baths and some spray paint, alternatively you could use sugar paper and sticky-back plastic.

Each student is given a mat, you then flash questions up on the IWB, students left leg represents the tens and their right leg the units. They have to move so that their feet match the answer to the question e.g. if the answer were 52 they would have their left leg on ‘5’ and their right leg on ‘2’. The next question then appears and they jump to the next answer. Along with some music and a bit of momentum you get students dancing along to BIDMAS, volume, solving equations or any topic you can think of! See our bundle of dance mat maths in our tpt shop or tes store for some ready made activities that you can use with your Dance Math Mats.

My students really enjoy this of any ability and it really helps to engage the kinaesthetic learners, you may have a few students who initially don’t want to join in (until they see how much fun it is!) in which case I let them answer on mini-whiteboards instead.

If you try this out we would love to hear from you, tweet us  @numberloving or email at numberloving@outlook.com  and check out our free and premium resources in our TES NumberLoving Store.

Maths Party!

15 Apr

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 4cm 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 TES NumberLoving Store.

%d bloggers like this: