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Bone up on arithmetic

Everybody knows (although a busy curriculum and the shadow of national tests often obscure it) that the best way to get children involved in activities is to make links to their own worlds.

A great opportunity for addition and multiplication practice is to use Crazy Bones, little plastic objects much sought after by children. There are various games that can be played with them, but a good one is the so-called traditional game where players take turns to throw five Crazy Bones into the air, and then score points depending on how they land: standing up (ace) 5 points; on its side 2 points; face up 1 point; face down 0 points.

I have found this works well with groups of five, and I give them five goes each. I made a little scorecard, with columns labelled "name", "rounds 1-5" and "total". When working out their scores after each turn, children get a chance to practise adding up, with multiples of 2 and 5 cropping up quite often.

At the end, the children then have to add up their five numbers. It provides lots of opportunities for spotting 10s pairs, doubles and for general addition skills, and all in the context of a genuine need to find the answer. They will also quite happily check each other's totals.

It also provides a good opportunity for children to practise turn-taking, both during play and at the start, when they take it in turns to select Crazy Bones from the jar.

Richard Foster, Year 2 teacher, Eastwick Infant School, Bookham, Surrey

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