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Broadbent Maths - creative primary maths

Maths teaching ideas and articles

Free teaching ideas and activities for your classroom.

Paul includes articles on primary maths teaching and learning, new developments and other maths topics for primary teachers.

 
Primary maths Christmas activities
13/11/2017
Primary maths Christmas activities
Christmas maths activities for primary teachers to try with your class - a stocking full of ideas that provide children with valuable opportunities for maths learning and some Christmas festive fun. Choose from challenges that can be returned to over a few days or quick 10 minute fillers.
 
 
Objectives-led teaching or purposeful experiences?
08/11/2017
Objectives-led teaching or purposeful experiences?
A recent article from the NCETM Primary and Early Years Magazine, titled 'Using local context as a hook to ignite interest and excitement’ made me think about current teaching approaches, based on the curriculum advice we are getting. The curriculum is currently objectives-led, with small steps and assessment goals driving the teaching, rather than it being determined by purposeful experiences. However, the NCETM article, written by a Y6 teacher, emphasises the latter approach.
 
 
Learning multiplication facts? Take a look at the products
06/11/2017
Learning multiplication facts? Take a look at the products
Many hours are spent in primary classrooms on activities to help children learn multiplication facts, with varying degrees of success. I’ve seen (and used) chanting, counting patterns, songs, games, trio cards, bingo, round the class cards, tables tests… and many more strategies to try to get it to stick. So here’s another strategy to add to the mix – focus on the products.
 
 
Do we need a single professional association for mathematics in the UK?
19/10/2017
Do we need a single professional association for mathematics in the UK?
The debate has arisen again over whether there should be a single amalgamated professional association for the teaching of mathematics, with a discussion paper recently published. The proposal is that the five professional associations should be amalgamated into a single association for UK mathematics education, with a variety of Special Interest Groups (SIGs).
 
 
New baseline assessment to start 2020
03/10/2017
New baseline assessment to start 2020
Baseline assessments are to be reintroduced in 2020 and it looks like the national testing system will be narrow in the skills assessed, concentrating on numeracy and literacy. It will be completed in the first few weeks of children starting in Reception classes. In addition to the new baseline testing, teachers will still be required to complete the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile. What a welcome to school! 
 
 
Exploring fractions on a grid
03/10/2017
Exploring fractions on a grid
The topic of fractions can be one of the most challenging to teach and learn in primary schools with many hidden misconceptions ready to take hold as children dig deeper into the idea of rational numbers. It is a topic that children need to have time to explore and think about, using a variety of representations to help make sense of it. Here is a simple starting point that can be used in Y4-6 as an activity for exploring fractions as quotients, improper fractions, mixed numbers and equivalence.
 
 
Cross-curricular maths teaching and National Poetry Day
28/09/2017
Cross-curricular maths teaching and National Poetry Day
National Poetry Day comes round each September and it is definitely a good time to introduce some poems into your maths lessons. However, thinking about it, every day is a good day to bring some sort of creative, fun, thought-provoking ideas into your mathematics. This may be in the form of poetry, but it could also be through art or stories or science or any other creative context.
 
 
Inspiring your class with maths - give a problem within a context
05/09/2017
Inspiring your class with maths - give a problem within a context
Giving a mathematical challenge to your class can provide purpose to the maths and sparks children's interest, particularly if set in an inspiring context. The problem solving process involves reasoning and thinking mathematically, while applying the skills or concepts they are learning. That’s all great, of course – but finding appropriate problems to match the learning objectives is not always easy and they are rarely set within a context that suits your class. So where can you begin?
 
 
How to make your maths displays engaging and active
04/09/2017
How to make your maths displays engaging and active
A lively and engaging maths display is an important element of the classroom, helping children understand the concepts, skills or procedures of a particular maths topic and providing opportunities to celebrate their achievements. Many governors, heads and subject leaders use learning walks to get a feel of the maths going on in a class and the obvious place for them to look first is the maths display.
 
 
Learning objectives, expected outcomes and small steps of progression
29/08/2017
Learning objectives, expected outcomes and small steps of progression
When planning a unit of maths using a mastery approach, the learning objectives are a key starting point. Teachers begin with a set of objectives, with many teachers then using statements of expected outcomes to determine the learning that has taken place. I also like to use small steps of progression alongside these. I am going to take a look at the purpose of each of them, to make the most of these linked aspects at the start of the planning process.
 
 
Points of view - plans and elevations of 3-D shapes
06/06/2017
Points of view - plans and elevations of 3-D shapes
In our everyday lives we make a wide-ranging use of diagrams, maps and floor-plans which all assume an ability to interpret plans, elevations and aerial views. Giving children the opportunity to explore plans, side elevations and front elevations of 3-D shapes, and represent them in different ways, is a useful step towards developing these skills, as well as helping to cover these NC Programmes of Study:
Year 3 – ‘Recognise 3-D shapes in different orientations and describe them’
Year 5 – ‘Identify 3-D shapes, including cubes and cuboids from 2-D representations’

 
 
Using mobiles to explore complements of numbers
05/06/2017
Using mobiles to explore complements of numbers
The visual representation of balanced mobiles is a great way to explore the complements of sets of numbers. Children need to be able to quickly recall the complements of 10, 100 and 1000 as well as the decade numbers to give them mental agility when calculating. Mobiles are also useful for practicing complementary addition to work out the difference between two numbers. This challenge to balance the mobile is open ended and is a great starting point that can be accessed by all abilities before progressing in complexity.  
 
 
Teaching money - include financial education too
30/05/2017
Teaching money - include financial education too
Teaching money in primary maths involves recognising the values of coins and notes, making totals and giving change, understanding decimal notation and calculating with money to solve problems. It is also a good opportuntity to include financial education, looking at where our money comes from, what we use money for and how it makes us feel. Research from the Money Advice Service finds that habits around money are often formed by the age of 7 so this is an important topic to cover across the whole primary age range. 
 
 
Statutory assessment consultation - have your say
02/05/2017
Statutory assessment consultation - have your say
There is an opportunity for teachers to influence future statutory assessment in primary schools. The Department for Education and the Standards Testing Agency are asking for your views about assessment, the best starting point for measuring progress and the role of teacher assessment. A cross-party Education Select Committee report, published last week, suggests that current testing is having a negative impact on children’s education and well-being. So, while testing happens in schools this month, keep up to date with current findings around assessment and have your say. 
 
 
Chanting activities and interactive maths
27/04/2017
Chanting activities and interactive maths
Chanting activities involving a unison response can be a good way to practise aspects of maths that involve some sort of repetition. It is fun to do, but needs to be well managed by the teacher and this includes identifying the areas of maths it works best with and careful planning to include all abilities in this whole class activity. 
 
 
Misconceptions in maths - breaking down the problems
25/04/2017
Misconceptions in maths - breaking down the problems
An aspect of teaching mathematics that can be very satisfying is spotting the reason why a child has misunderstood some maths and then being able to deal with it quickly so they are put back on the correct path in their learning. This all involves a teacher having a good subject knowledge – an understanding of the curriculum, the small steps of progression, the way a concept or procedure is represented, the connections there are and the best way of interacting with the child. 
 
 
Multiplication - exploring Gelosia and Russian methods
07/03/2017
Multiplication - exploring Gelosia and Russian methods
As a follow up to the article on Napier’s Bones, I thought it would be useful to look at other historical (and interesting) methods for multiplication. There were two in particular that I used in my own teaching - the Gelosia and Russian Peasant methods. They were both great for exploring different ways of handling numbers when calculating and practising key skills, but I wouldn’t necessarily use either as a chosen standard method.
 
 
Maths around a Roman theme
07/03/2017
Maths around a Roman theme
The Ancient Romans as a theme offers such a rich context for mathematical starting points. The 2014 NC programmes of study includes reading and using Roman numerals which would obviously fit in, but here are a few more quick maths ideas to add to your topic on the Romans.
 
 
Pi day March 14th - take a look at circles
06/03/2017
Pi day March 14th - take a look at circles
Pi day can be a whole school event, with KS1 children finding circles and KS2 children discovering a simple Pi pattern through measuring, using multiplication and division facts for x3 and rounding to the nearest whole number. Other Pi based activities include rounding decimals, looking at the format that dates are written around the world and, of course, it could include eating pies!
 
 
Logical reasoning in the primary maths classroom
07/02/2017
Logical reasoning in the primary maths classroom
On a visit to a school in Switzerland I was pleased to see a whole range of logic games and activities being actively used by a group of 8 year olds. The teacher explained that sorting by different attributes, reasoning and logical thinking were all key to the children having mathematical success so these games were used daily.
 
 
Assessment for Learning questions - start with 'Give me a pair....'
07/02/2017
Assessment for Learning questions - start with 'Give me a pair....'
Planning Assessment for Learning (AfL) questions and activities is an important part of good teachingHowever, AfL type questions need not be complex - a focus on learning and depth of understanding is the focus. A basic question structure that can be used for any maths topic can be very helpful and 'Give me a pair...' is a versatile start for questions to ask.
 
 
Multiplying with Napier's Bones - new maths collection at the Science Museum
23/01/2017
Multiplying with Napier's Bones - new maths collection at the Science Museum
The Science Museum has a new maths collection and one of the artefacts is a wooden set of Napier’s ‘Bones’, you can visit the new maths collection online. Set your class the challenge of discovering how to multiply large numbers using Napier's numbers on a grid. A great problem solving activity that holds children's interest while reinforcing quick recall of mulitplication facts.
 
 
Reflect on your maths teaching and take a look at the bigger picture
03/01/2017
Reflect on your maths teaching and take a look at the bigger picture
Once the term has started it is likely that you focus on your teaching for each day or week with little chance to reflect and look at your teaching in a wider context. If possible, take some time to reflect on what education is all about for you and then look at the best way you can make this happen in action. 
 
 
Interactive maths kits - add a geoboard for 'show me' activities
03/01/2017
Interactive maths kits - add a geoboard for 'show me' activities
'Show me' activities are great for whole class starters and each child having their own maths kit helps your classroom management as well as making maths motivating for children. On a training course recently, where I give out maths kits with counters, number cards,100-squares and other manipulatives, a teacher suggested adding a geoboard to help with shape 'starter' activites. 
 
 
Calculate the day of the week for any date in 2017 - inspire your class
03/01/2017
Calculate the day of the week for any date in 2017 - inspire your class
The 'doomsday rule' is a way to mentally calculate the day of the week for any date - without the use of a calendar. Looking at the patterns and rules and then using them to predict the day of any date gives children a reason to learn the order of months, the positional and ordinal number for each month, as well as developing a desire to play with numbers. A great maths motivator for the new year.
 
 
Maths observations - how can you make the most of them?
25/11/2016
Maths observations - how can you make the most of them?
Lesson observations, with the opportunity to see other teachers in action and the learning that takes place, are a great way to improve your own teaching skills. This is even more the case if you have been involved with the planning process so you can share thoughts and ideas with the teacher. I have a prompt 'bookmark' sheet of questions to guide my observations that you can give a try.
 
 
Christmas maths fillers - 10 minute seasonal activities
24/11/2016
Christmas maths fillers - 10 minute seasonal activities
Christmas maths fillers are useful for those spare moments during these busy weeks in school. Here are a few short, one-off simple activities that can be done with only paper and crayons. They are interesting, fun maths tasks providing an opportunity for exploration and problem solving.
 
 
Calculator challenges -  a valuable tool in the primary classroom
23/11/2016
Calculator challenges - a valuable tool in the primary classroom
Calculators are not used in the tests for 11-year olds but they can still be a valuable part of a primary maths lesson to support children's learning. Here are some rich activities to try with your class using calculators. It is interesting that calculators are mainly considered as tools to make maths easier. However, there are many ways they can be used to explore mathematical patterns, to help solve problems and to actually add challenge and interest to maths practice.
 
 
Primary assessment inquiry - a chance to have your say, if you're quick!
21/10/2016
Primary assessment inquiry - a chance to have your say, if you're quick!
The Education Select Committee have begun an inquiry into primary assessment that will look at the impact of recent reforms on teaching and learning in primary schools. So make sure you have your say, however be quick, the deadline for written submission is this week, 28th October 2016. After the results from the new national curriculum assessment (SATs) last summer and leaked test papers teachers will have a number of issues to raise. 
 
 
Sorting out Venn and Carroll diagrams for EYFS, KS1 and KS2
20/10/2016
Sorting out Venn and Carroll diagrams for EYFS, KS1 and KS2
Sorting starts early in EYFS and KS1 and continues with more and more sophisticated sorting into KS2, particularly when exploring properties of shapes and numbers. Here is a quick outline of sorting in primary classrooms with a particular focus on the use of Venn and Carroll diagrams. As with all aspects of maths it is the careful progression that helps children master the maths. 
 
 
Adapting the Planning Menu to work well for your school
14/10/2016
Adapting the Planning Menu to work well for your school
The purpose of my Maths Planning Menu was to provide support and expertise on teaching primary maths with planning resources that schools and teachers could pick and choose from. They can then combine this with other resources to plan their own creative maths lessons to best teach their class. I went into a school recently and they had used all the elements provided to teach a great lesson, using their own format. 
 
 
A special date with consecutive square numbers 4.9.16
05/09/2016
A special date with consecutive square numbers 4.9.16
4.9.16...  a square day! A set of consecutive square numbers appearing in a date - what a great starting point for some fun with numbers. Can this happen again? Has it happened before? What about dates that have all square numbers but not necessarily appearing in order? How many can you find? When are the next 'square number days'?
 
 
Fibonacci numbers in nature - count and find the patterns
02/09/2016
Fibonacci numbers in nature - count and find the patterns
Looking at maths in nature should certainly inspire children... and teachers. Counting spirals on cones and sunflowers can reveal Fibonacci numbers. Children can discover the rules behind these special numbers and use the numbers to draw spirals that look like shells – which takes them back to nature again! 
 
 
Growth mindset and teaching maths
30/08/2016
Growth mindset and teaching maths
How do you feel about maths? Some teachers (like me when I first started teaching) feel they have a limited ability in maths and are anxious when teaching maths. This fixed mindset can influence your teaching but you don’t have to feel like this. A can-do attitude and a feeling that everyone can achieve in maths is part of having a growth mindset. So how can you instil this growth mindset in your class? There are a number of ways forward and I have outlined 15 ideas to start you off. 
 
 
Early Years Foundation Stage Profile to remain as statutory
28/08/2016
Early Years Foundation Stage Profile to remain as statutory
What a year for EYFS teachers, after a year of preparing for the introduction of baseline assessment, it was dropped in April after problems with the pilot scheme and a generally negative response to it from schools. However, teachers were told that they could still use the baseline assessments if they wished. Then comes an announcement – in August! -  from the Standards and Testing Agency (STA) that the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile is to remain statutory for the academic year 2016/17.
 
 
Maths activities for sports day and the Olympic Games
20/06/2016
Maths activities for sports day and the Olympic Games
Having maths activities linked to sports day is a great way to inspire children and put maths into a real-life context. There are opportunities to use small numbers with EYFS/KS1, calculate with 3-digit numbers for the track events for KS2 and try problem solving with weights. There is also a free to download sporting logic mystery.
 
 
How can you implement a mastery approach in primary maths?
20/06/2016
How can you implement a mastery approach in primary maths?
There are a lot of schools trying to adopt a mastery approach in the teaching of mathematics. This is a positive move, but does not always involve a complete change of your pedagogy. Here is an outline of the main elements of a mastery approach and how these can be incorporated into your planning.
 
 
Learning to tell the time - keep it simple
17/06/2016
Learning to tell the time - keep it simple
Being able to read the time quickly and accurately is one of the basic skills that we expect our children to crack when they are round about 7 or 8 years old. However, I feel we make it overly complicated and difficult to learn (and to teach). There are a few hurdles for children to overcome when reading an analogue clock, so I would suggest keeping it a simple process. 
 
 
Problem solving activities - new resources online
10/05/2016
Problem solving activities - new resources online
Finding appropriate activities and maths problems can be time-consuming and tricky for teachers. Good problem solving activities should match specific learning objectives, should be purposeful and should also apply the skills, concepts and procedures previously learnt. To help with this I have been working on teaching activities and problem solving questions that match to specific maths topics for each year.
 
 
Do we need textbooks to teach primary maths? And if so which ones?
04/05/2016
Do we need textbooks to teach primary maths? And if so which ones?
Some schools are looking at textbooks and teachers have asked me for advice on this. I've put together a number of things to consider for those thinking about using maths books to support their teaching.  Does your school just need Teacher's Guides or is a textbook also necessary? Is it a Practice Book you're after or do you need problem solving ideas? To help with this I've also looked at some of the features of a few of the new maths books recently published.
 
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