The house that maths built

19th September 2003 at 01:00
John Dabell reviews the latest primary resources for the new term

Maths Mansion CD-Rom. Upper key stage 2. CD-Rom 1: pound;29.38; additional CD-Roms (only with initial order) pound;11.75. 10-user licence: pound;23.50; school site licence: pound;117.50. Maths Mansion CD-Rom 2. prices as above. 4Learning. Tel: 08701 246 444 www.channel4.commathsmansion.

Channel 4Learning has produced two immensely enjoyable and slick resources that ooze quality and character.

The disks are spin-offs from the respected television series Maths Mansion (see pages 24), in which children attempt to escape from a Gothic house by completing a range of maths posers. CD-Rom 1 is divided into Numbers and the Number System, Solving Problems, Calculations and Measures, Shape and Space, while CD-Rom 2, which provides extension and progression for the first, focuses on Solving Problems and is divided into Numbers and the Number System and Measures, Shape and Space.

The Maths Mansion houses the Games Room where children can play 10 numeracy strategy-linked games that practise fundamental skills including multiplication, division, decimals, fractions, ratio and proportion and quadrilaterals. The games are cleverly constructed and very motivating.

For each game there is an explanatory video clip that bolsters its maths concept. Play is differentiated at two levels, although these could be deeper and wider to accommodate the range of achievement. Middle and high attainers will get the most out of these activities. Children can easily access a dictionary to find the meanings of terms and enter a Study Room to learn more.

There's a useful menu for teachers that offers clear explanations of the activities and an assessment option to view children's progress.

Maths Mansion is a clever resource that is zany, colourful and bursting with creativity. The content will keep children on their toes and undoubtedly sharpen young mathematical minds.

Successful Mathematics Leadership in Primary Schools. By Gina Donaldson. KS 2. Learning Matters, pound;12. Tel: 01392 215560.

Maths co-ordinators have an important role to play in primary schools, but knowing where to start can be difficult. Help is at hand from Gina Donaldson, an experienced primary practitioner, who has written a guide to help teachers.

The book provides advice on a wide range of key skills. The first two chapters define the role of a subject leader and provide advice about leading staff development, whole-school planning, assessment, writing a maths policy and ICT.

Other chapters increase knowledge and understanding of inclusive teaching, working productively with parents and using and applying maths.

Each chapter refers directly to national expectations, asks relevant questions and provides tips and recommendations.

Teaching Mathematics in Primary Schools. By Sue Jennings and Richard Dunne. Letts, pound;16. Tel: 0800 216 592.

This omnibus manual will provide teachers in training with a wealth of teaching methods and lesson plans. The first section presents a framework for teaching maths and explains how children learn and what assistance they can be given. It also presents key ideas about the character of maths and a guide to lesson organisation and structure.

The second half presents a selection of paradigms, lesson strategies and scripts in numbers and counting, the four operations, extending the number system, properties of shapes, measurement and graphs and handling data. A useful feature of the book is the inclusion of key paragraph prompts and expert knowledge and tip boxes. This book will certainly inspire confidence in the non-specialist.

Follow Me!

By Adrian and Jeni Pinel. Year 3, 4, 5, 6. PCET Publishing. Each book pound;14.99 + VAT. Tel: 020 8567 9206.

These books provide mental maths card-linking games, dovetailed closely to the key numeracy strategy objectives for each year group. There are two types of card sets: "Who Am I?" and "Follow Me!". Both form a single chain or single loop. Additional teacher's notes are included with ideas on how to structure the activities as well as resources to support differentiation and solutions.

These canny and dextrous materials can be photocopied so a number of sets can be used at any one time. The cards are a first-rate and unrivalled resource that can be used during each of the three parts of the daily maths lesson.

Target Maths. By Ian Ward. Set 1 Y3, set 2 Y4, set 3 Y5, set 4 Y6, set 5 all years. QEd Publications. Each set pound;7 + VAT. Order four sets and get fifth free. Tel: 0870 3806615.

The aim of Target Maths is to make a specific number using any of the four operations and all numbers written on the card. Each number can be used only once. There is at least one solution for every card and these are provided on a teacher's sheet.

Each set comprises 120 double-sided cards and represents good value for money. The rules are simple and children will enjoy using them as they are challenging without being impossible. The sets can be used flexibly to meet all ability levels and are ideal for improving mental maths skills.

Children can work independently, in pairs or in groups. The cards work best when played competitively as a whole class.

Target Maths is a real thinking activity that is stimulating, highly addictive and a handy resource as part of a maths toolkit.

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