Back to the real world;Primary;Reviews;Mathematics;Books

21st May 1999 at 01:00
MATHS TOPIC SERIES. Channel Four Learning. pound;6.95 each.

The Channel Four Mathematical Topic series is a set of four activity books written for each of the three age-bands: five to seven, seven to nine and nine to 11 years.

In each case, the writers have taken the refreshing and radically retrograde premise that mathematics has meaning for children in everyday life. And so it should have. It's curious to reflect that we've twisted away from squeezing every aspect of the curriculum into topics, to isolating each subject, back to relating subjects to the wider world again. Plus ca change.

For younger ones, you can have mathematics with toys, food and festivals. For the mid-range, maths with holidays, homes and shopping. For the top of the primary school, nature, sport and travel are made mathematically relevant. And everyone gets a book on mathematics and time. Chips with everything.

Each topic subdivides into five themes, structured to develop skills appropriate to the target age-group. Teacher notes support each section of every book, offering discussion material and ideas to introduce key concepts in class and individual work.

The presentation is clear, crisp and copiable. The activities provide the appropriate level of challenge for each age-group and plenty of variety in what pupils are asked to do.

The Maths and Time trio of books are particularly well-crafted, involving children in games, model-making, charts, calendars and systems ancient and modern for reckoning the hour.

Careful attention has been paid to reflecting cultural and social diversity throughout the series and the variety of content is richer and more interesting as a result.

Like the current government promotion reminding parents that reading isn't restricted to books, these books succeed in getting maths out of the text and into the real world.

Above all, they provide good learning material that will save teachers a great deal of searching for resources and ideas. Maths really is a topical subject.

Jon O'Connor is head of Parkside First School, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire

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