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Behind the counter

John Dabell looks at a board game that is not boring

Counter Challenge KS2 and 3 Price: pound;14 (plus VAT and Pamp;P) from BD Games Charlton House 118 Finstall Road Bromsgrove Worcester B60 3DB Tel: 01527 574334 Email:

Maths games have enormous potential for raising children's attainment. They can stimulate their thinking, spark creativity and engender an enjoyment of maths like no other resource. Teachers take note: Counter Challenge delivers the goods at an affordable price.

This is a highly motivating, practical game that will provide children with an enjoyable and competitive context to practice their mental strategies, mathematical skills and understanding while having fun. It will reinforce essential skills, knowledge and techniques and provide a context for teachers to assess mental strategies.

Counter Challenge is a board game for two players, although children could play in pairs against each other to support collaboration and encompass different ability levels.

Players have a set of 12 counters with two numbers marked on one surface of each counter (see picture). A quality board is divided in half and consists of an even mixture of patterned and plain squares.

The rules and instructions are written in a straightforward manner although, initially, children will need guidance about how to play.

Once the layout is familiar and the game has been demonstrated, they will be able to play independently. The amount of help needed will vary depending on the age and ability of the players. They can move the counters in three different directions and points are scored by capturing an opponents counter.

Scoring depends on the scoring option selected and calculations are made using a combination of the four number operations. All scoring options involve multiplication.

This game will dramatically improve children's ability to manipulate numbers, particularly in using multiplication. Children will find it testing and taxing but ultimately stimulating and absorbing.

The game could be used in group activities within a main session, as part of a maths club or a wet play activity. Counter Challenge deserves pride of place in any classroom. Recommended.

John Dabell is a primary maths co-ordinator Look out for the next Maths subject focus, to be published on January 10. As well as resource reviews, the dedicated section features teaching ideas, classroom innovation, the latest curriculum news and upcoming events

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