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The shape of things to come

THE WEDGE WHITEBOARD IN VARIOUS SIZES AND WITH MAGNETIC AIDS. Hope Education. pound;47.95-pound;99.99. Age range:5-11.

Even in these days when whole-class teaching is being promoted as the desired model, primary teachers spend a good deal of time explaining mathematical concepts to small groups. This has often meant the teacher writing on large sheets of paper, with children who are struggling to see standing up or kneeling on their chairs. To avoid this awkward situation, many teachers have devised their own resources, making mini boards or adapting large flip books.

Rako Products has aimed to solve the problem with the Wedge. This is an A2 or A3 size hollow metal pyramid to which magnetic aids can be stuck. Its white surface can be written on with dry-wipe markers. On a table, the wedge is at the right height for children to see without them moving from their seats, and the teacher's hands are left free.

You can buy overlays of British and world maps, handwriting rules, music rules, sports pitches and (for the A2 Wedge) story-telling aids, plus a trolley for storage.

The multiplication teaching pack includes a "multi-square", a 1-to-100 number square with two overlays from which different multiplication tables have been punched out. In a trice, the patterns produced by repeated addition of a number can be seen. Several overlays can be used at once to show common multiples. Coloured counters are provided to build up the patterns on the blank square if preferred. A handbook provides ideas for patterns to look for in number sequences. You can also buy a set of two blank graphs, used with the counters fordata-handling.

The choice of multiplication overlays is puzzling. Half of the value of this activity is in children creating the patterns themselves. The manufacturers would do well to concentrate on open-ended or blank materials which would help teachers demonstrate a wide variety of concepts. For example, number lines, objects for sorting and counting, a clock face with removable parts.

The Wedge is too heavy to carry in one hand and its shape makes it difficult to store easily. The manufacturers have produced lighter, folding versions, but they are more expensive.

* The Wedge, A3, pound;47.95 (exc VAT); A2, pound;66.75; folding A3, pound;74.99; folding A2, pound;99.99.

Maths Multisquare Resource Kit, pound;7.95. Graphs and Charts Pack, pound;5.95. UK and world maps, pound;5.95. Handwriting rules, pound;5.95. Music rules, pound;5.95. Football and Netball Pitches Pack, pound;5.95. Wedge Resource Trolley, pound;199.95.

From Hope Education, Orb Mill, Huddersfield Road, Oldham, Lancs OL4 2ST. Tel: 0161-633 6611 Stand B4

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