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Broadbent Maths - creative primary maths

Make your own interactive maths kit

Sunday, 19 January 2014
Maths kits are really useful for interactive oral maths starter sessions and mental maths games. They can be used from Year 1 to Year 6 with small changes to the contents. So what are the most useful items to have?

The most important items in a maths bag have to be those that can be used for 'Show me' activities.

                                         Show me  - everyone in the class holds up their answers. 

 The great benefits of 'show me' is that:    

• your whole class is participating – rather than one child for each question.

• mental maths becomes games and children gain confidence

• you can differentiate within the same whole class activity.

• you can assess a large group of pupils

Giving one of each item in a small plastic wallet to each child makes it more personal  and helps with classroom organisation.  Children will soon get into the habit to getting their maths kits ready at the start of each lesson – eager to start the warm-up maths sessions.

Many thanks to Malcolm Sargent Primary School for sending me one of their maths bags.

So what should be in a maths kit for show me activities?

0-9 digit cards have one set for each pupil, for more challenge limit the number of digits for an activity

                    Malclom Sargent school has incuded 0-20 number cards, the four operations
                    and other maths symbols such as a decimal point card, £, < and =

Fan numbers include one set each pupil, KS2 include a decimal point.

                    Fan numbers are good for showing sets of digits and multi-digit numbers, but probably
                    no more than 4 digits for the number so it easy to read.

Arrow cards  show the structure of numbers

                    They can show any numbers - HTU for KS1, to millions (
and a decimal point) for KS2.

                    Arrow cards are good for place value and expanded notation, large numbers and
                    all number operation activities.

Flip flops  are a 16 part folded square, with images of 2s, 5s…..

                    These are a personal favourite –  take a look at my article on these for
                    more details and a template.
                                                         Using Flip-Flops to practice multiplication tables

For KS1     ask for 1 and 2 digit answers

Show me....
 • a number 1 less than..., 2 more than...., between 4 and 6

•  an a odd number less than 8, a set of two even numbers

•  show me 2 numbers that total 5, 10, 12

For KS2         limit the digits for more of a challenge

Show me...
• an odd number less than 50, the largest number using digits 2,3,1

• a square number that is even,  a multiple of 4 and 6

• 7 x 6, 7+6, 70 + 60, any quick recall of number bonds and times tables

Maths Kit bought
The maths bag contents at Malcolm Sargent Primary School has a mixture of bought items and handmade laminated cards. 

It is useful for each bag to have dice and counters  - particularly clear counters that can be placed over numbers on a hundred square but allows the covered numbers to still be visible. 

Many schools will already have most of these items - collect them together or get children to make their own.

If you are buying look for simple versions. Number fans with dots for each digit are not useful when showing 12 (it should be 10+2, not 1+2). 

Remember to make a kit for your self with a large version of each item. 
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