For heads and hands

21st January 2000 at 00:00
Packs: SHOW ME SLIDERS. pound;4.50 + VAT for a pack of 15. TIGER BONDS TO TEN SQUARE. pound;2.00 + VAT each. OPERATIONS TO 20. pound;5.25 +VAT per pack. Hamilton Education.

These three new resources from Hamilton are designed to support aspects of the daily maths lesson. Each comes with a leaflet offering ideas which would be most useful during mental and oral work.

Show Me Sliders are laminated cardboard strips over which slide bright purple markers, dividing the strip in two. One side has a blank number line with 10 divisions. Sliders can support simple counting activities up to more complex questions such as "show me two-thirds of a half". Each pupil slides her own marker and displays it to the teacher.

The suggested activities are varied and practical, although they do not address the potential confusion between complementary values ("Is that one-third or two-thirds?").

The Tiger Bonds to Ten square is a pre-scored four-by-four square with a tiger in 10 of the 16 squares. Folding allows the teacher to display any number of tigers from 0 to 10 while hiding its complement.

Suggested questions include "How many tigers can you see?", "How many tigers can I see?" and, alarmingly, "If one goat feeds two tigers, how many goats do I need to feed these tigers?"!

The Operations to 20 pack comprises large, laminated 0 to 20 number cards and the main operation signs. About a dozen varied activities are described, some old, some new, some for the whole class, some for smaller groups. They could be used in any primary class.

In general, the activities are good and are just the thing one hopes to see enlivening maths sessions. Many teachers will value the chance to buy them, while others will recognise that they can all easily be made for next to nothing in school.

MENTAL MATHEMATICS 6-14. Starter Set (guides, 20 test booklets, record sheets and audio cassette test) pound;30+VAT. Test Booklets pound;9.50+VAT (pack of 10). By Tandi Clausen-May, Helen Claydon and Graham Ruddock. NFER Nelson Education.

Mental Mathematics 6-14 is a series of nine audio cassette tests of mental maths. The test under review is Mental Mathematics 10, aimed at rising 10-year-olds.

The format is that of the Year 6 SATs mental tests and designed to cover all strands of the national curriculum. The tests are bang up to date, having been standardised in national trials in 1999.

As expected from the National Foundation for Educational Research, the quality is high and the instructions compreensive. It is easy to produce an age-standardised score and percentile ranking (but not national curriculum level) using the detailed mark scheme. Consecutive tests are co-scaled to provide a useful measure of progress.

The authors provide a few brief thoughts on teaching and learning but no support for using errors diagnostically. Annual use of the 20-minute tests should provide valuable measures of progress and usefully complement the many written tests used in schools.

As with many such tests, however, the costs are high, even with in-school marking. In particular, the use of 12-page disposable answer booklets at pound;30-plus per class will reduce the appeal of these guides in many schools, sadly.

NUMBER RESOURCES FOR NUMERACY LESSONS KEY STAGE 1. Pack. Year R, Year 1, Year 2 and Teacher's Templates. By Annie Owen. Evans Brothers pound;39.97.

This doesn't claim to be a complete teaching scheme. Each of the three Year books contains about 30 photocopiable worksheets on a host of different topics with an emphasis on number and measures.

Each sheet has brief instructions at the front of the book. These are aimed at teachers and in most cases the activities would need to be introduced by an adult before pupils are left to work individually or in groups. They are helpfully cross-referenced to one or more objectives from the Framework for Teaching Mathematics.

The templates include digit cards, dice nets, coins and recording sheets such as blank addition grids. They also each have brief activity descriptions and can be used independently of the other books.

Most of the ideas are familiar although some are presented in novel contexts. All are lively without being cluttered and some are encouragingly challenging.

AT YOUR DESK. By Fran Mosley. BEAM Education pound;9.50

At Your Desk is the latest addition to BEAM Education's popular Mental Mathematics Flip Book series. It contains instructions for 36 whole-class activities promoting mainly mental mathematical ideas suitable for key stage 2. Some are familiar, some novel, but all are clearly presented.

Each activity is usefully cross-referenced to objectives in the Framework for Teaching Mathematics and has suggestions for how it can be extended and adapted.

Many require simple apparatus such as dice or number cards, but others could usefully fill an odd five minutes with no preparation.

This book is well designed for ease of use.

Linton Waters is Shropshire mathematics adviser

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