In brief

5th April 1996 at 01:00
EXPLORING DECIMALS, BEAM Project, Be A Mathematician Pounds 19.50, Age range 7 - 11.

Work on decimals may not sound the most interesting of topics, but the 18 activities which form the main part of this teacher's resource book should interest and challenge as well as lay the foundation for understanding.

The activities are usefully varied to include individual, paired and group work, calculators, number lines, money, dice, and so on.

Each activity is set out in a consistent format on a double-page spread so the teacher can see at a glance key information which links with the programme of study, useful questions to ask, resources needed, clearly-defined aims, and help with organisations and assessment.

Further "what if...?" questions are given so that the activity can be extended or take a new direction. As well as explaining how to use the book, the introduction contains excellent advice on assessment and record-keeping, not only of content but of children's ability to use and apply mathematics.

The final section includes photocopiable pupils' sheets to support the activities and record-sheets for the teacher and children. An excellent resource.

CALCULATORS IN THEIR HANDS By Fran Mosley, BEAM, Barnsbury Complex, Offord Road, London N11QH. Pounds 7.50, Age range 8 - 14.

This book contains 23 games, puzzles and activities for home or school use. The activities involve both individual tasks and paired tasks, some collaborative, some competitive.

Each includes a combination of text and supportive illustrations about what is needed, whether the child works alone or with a partner and what to do.

Some of the pages are rather wordy but the language is reasonably simple. Useful additional features include variations on the activity, including easier as well as more challenging alternatives, questions to respond to and suggestions for help.

Although many activities are familiar, together they make an impressive collection for encouraging numeracy and show that the calculator, used sensibly, can promote and extend children's understanding of number facts and relationships and improve their mental arithmetic.

This book would be ideal "homework" for parents not yet convinced of the power and potential of the calculator to help children become numerate.

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