Magic number

John Dabell chooses primary maths resources

Number Challenge Interactive CD-Rom. BEAM (Be A Mathematician) Education Pounds 85.50 + VAT Ages 7 to 11

BEAM has a sound reputation for stylish, hip, maths resources and this product is the latest reason why the company has been at the cutting edge of the subject for more than 20 years.

Number Challenge Interactive is a CD-Rom to help seven to 11-year-olds fathom their multiplication tables. The games on offer are Solar System (6 times and 8 times tables), Germs (multiples), Times Square (up to 6x6 and 10x10) and Skateboards (7 and 9 times tables).

All the instructions are written for children and are broadly accessible.

The games can be played with the whole class, in teams or with groups.

There are two playing levels and the sound can be turned on or off.

The games have been well designed and will help children to practise their multiplication strategies and develop their mental maths skills.

Ideally, they would be played in a collaborative context to encourage plenty of speaking, listening and sharing of ideas.

Number Challenge Interactive is fun to play and would make a useful addition to the classroom, a maths club or library. The programs are also available as board games.

Flexitable. MultiplicationDivision; AdditionSubtraction; NumberFraction. pound;2.20 each, 10 for pound;21 and 30 for pound;60. Flexitable Limited. Call 01604 648 111.

Creative pupils need creative teachers. Creative teachers need creative resources. They also need simple ones that contribute effectively to learning.

So when it comes to teaching numbers, Flexitables are a resource worth getting your hands on. They are folding soft plastic number grids for helping children get to grips with number operations, fractions, percentages and decimals.

We already use number grids, of course. The children stick them in the back of their maths books and we use them on the interactive whiteboard.

The difference is that Flexitables are made of soft, pliable PVC that children can touch, hold and manipulate. These conceptual tools are fun to use and give children a sense of control and ownership of numbers.

They have a personal touch about them that children will enjoy. They allow pupils to play with numbers and get to know them better. And they have a great shelf life because they won't end up being torn or thrown away.

So, how can a Flexitable compete with a multimedia number grid? Well, they don't have to square up to each other. They can work hand in hand and contribute to different learning styles. And this affordable resource would make an ideal addition to a maths kit.

Each grid comes with a set of well written and comprehensive user notes.

Shape and Space Without a Worksheet. Association of Teachers of Mathematics pound;10 (pound;7.50 for ATM members) Call 01332 346 599.

Some teachers don't like worksheets. They say they clip the wings of creativity, gag discussion and stifle pupil talk. This demonisation seems unfair, especially as so much depends on how worksheets are used and who has created them. Still, there is little doubt that learners, especially younger ones, need plenty of practical experiences fuelled by engaging, creative and playful activities.

Shape and Space Without a Worksheet is a gem of a resource written by a collection of authors belonging to an Association of Teachers of Mathematics early years working group.

There are a dozen core activities to enjoy, all thoughtfully designed to provide activities for children making the challenging transition from foundation stage to Year 1.

Themes in the book include: journeys, pretending, mazes, mirrors and using the environment.

Each theme pulsates with thinking, talking and doing activities that involve children in a world of maths. Each concise chapter contains guidance for what to do in the main activity, along with ideas for extensions and simplifications to suit different learners.

You will also find ideas for posing questions, varying an activity and suggestions for recording children's mathematical achievements.

The resources needed are helpfully flagged up and the mathematical learning skills are clearly signposted. Reading through each activity makes you want to take part. Highly recommended

John Dabell is a numeracy consultant and teacher trainer

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