Game for a challenge

14th May 2004 at 01:00
John Dabell road tests the best mathematics resources for key stages 1 and 2

That's Maths!

Network Educational Press Ltd pound;24.69

Tel: 01785 225515

MathMania Key Stage 2

Topologika Software, single-user pound;39.95, unlimited site pound;139.95

Tel: 01326 377 771

Number Games Book 2

Hopscotch Educational Publishing pound;24.99

Tel: 01249 701701

Perfect Times

By Wendy Fortescue-Hubbard

Cambridge, site license pound;75

Tel: 01223 312393

That's Maths! is an interactive and innovative musical key stage 2 resource that's bursting with energy and fun. It incorporates 17 imaginative and memorable songs that cover numbers and number systems, shape, space and measures, and data handling.

The music and songs are catchy and well-crafted and provide an excellent route into teaching and explaining mathematical vocabulary and concepts.

The resource book is packed with photocopiable song sheets, which are ideal for karaoke-style singalongs using the instrumental CD.

Colourful and challenging worksheets provide effective verbal and visual support to capitalise on aural understanding in a written context.

That's Maths! is an upbeat and creative multi-sensory tour de force that embraces accelerated learning principles suitable for a range of learning styles and abilities. It is highly recommended.

MathMania Key Stage 2 is a superb software package that will be of significant use throughout the primary maths curriculum, in many teaching contexts. There are multiple-choice questions on numbers, time, angles, measures and space, a "lucky dip" mix, and eight terrific, thought-provoking puzzles.

Maths targets can comfortably be accommodated as the games can be set at four levels of difficulty; the software automatically promotes or demotes children to a different level of difficulty as they play.

Most children will be able to get started without any instructions.

Players' answers can be tracked and printed out as records of work done and teachers can add their own questions accordingly.

The pack contains a "worksheet generator" for children to work at their desks and a "maze designer" so they can create their own mazes. The comprehensive and clearly written handbook allows teachers to explore "multi-player" features by giving children an opportunity to improve their skills competitively across a network or the internet.

Stunning games and graphics, great sound effects and challenging interactive maths activities make MathMania a winning formula for KS2 classrooms. It will help children to prove and improve their capabilities, alongside other meaningful maths activities.

Number Games Book 2 is part of a superb series of four versatile books offering a wealth of exciting classroom games. They are suitable for children who are working on learning objectives from the early learning goals to about level 3, and lower achievers in KS23.

Each game has a double page of teacher's notes with crystalline learning targets, thorough instructions on how to play, variations for the different age ranges and ideas for the plenary session. Game boards, cards and clear photocopiable rules for children are provided. The games are clearly differentiated and can be played in a range of contexts.

Number Games will be a welcome addition to a maths games library and for helping to boost the mathematical self-esteem of lower-attaining learners.

Other books in the series that are worth a look are Addition and Subtraction Games, books 1 and 2. Although not cheap, this series is recommended for helping to raise mathematical achievement.

Perfect Times is designed to develop multiplication and division skills and is suitable for KS1, 2 and 3. There are five card games, each with a large number of variations. Games vary from testing fluency of the multiplication and division tables to learning and testing knowledge and understanding of multiples, prime numbers, square numbers, cubic numbers and triangle numbers.

In the "hints and tips" section you can find out why it is recommended that tables are learned in the order x11, x10, x9, x5, x2, x4, x8, x3, x6, x12 and x7. Also in this handy section you will find help with commutativity, using simpler tables, manipulating numbers and using known facts.

The "useful information" section is very supportive, containing a comprehensive guide for parents and teachers on mathematics and dyslexia and dyscalculia.

Perfect Times is not a visual feast nor is it cheap, but it will help children and adults of all ages to gain mathematical confidence. is full of fun, zippy classroom games, activities and ideas designed to improve numeracy skills at KS1 and KS2 through excitement and enjoyment. These worthwhile and playful games will need judicious interpretation, but will be stimulating and welcome inclusions to tired mental and oral starters and plenaries.

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