Children in upper primary school often become unmotivated by maths. A free alternative resource is the "special offers" flyer which frequently lands on my doormat courtesy of the local corner shop and supermarket.
These eye-catching leaflets advertising bargain deals are readily available and if friends and neighbours can't supply enough copies to go round, the shops often have more.
Handing out these flyers, I challenge the children to shop for special events such as parties or barbecues, giving each group a budget and a defined task.
Children can work in mixed-ability groups, and a competitive element may be introduced if appropriate. For example, which group can lay on the best spread of party food using the offers on the leaflet for less than pound;20?
Besides showing why maths is relevant, the activities can also be used to stretch different abilities, ranging from simple addition and subtraction to comparing the original prices with the discounted offers in terms of percentages.
More able children might set questions for others, on the proviso that they can come up with solutions to the problems they devise. It doesn't matter that there isn't an answer book - the "correct" answer is rarely relevant as it quickly becomes secondary to the motivation and enjoyment of the pupils.
Class teacher (temporary), Markinch Primary School, Fife