We all know the soccer-crazy child, low on numeracy and literacy skills, who can read and write the names of all the premier div-ision soccer teams, locate them on a map and make complicated calculations involving goal averages and league points.
Any child with an interest in football will be motivated by this excellent set of 32-page write-in maths books aimed at seven to 11-year-olds, which are football, football, football from the front cover with its Bobby Charlton Soccer School logo right through to the "Referee's decision is final" answers at the back.
Maths books based on a single topic usually have to resort to some very tenuous connections with the theme, but it rarely happens with these books and the authors have come up with an impressive range of mathematical exercises that have ingenious yet convincing links with football. So, for example, there are money exercises to find the cost of a soccer strip; a page on angles is based on ball passes; a calendar exercise involves fixture dates; the designs on footballs are used as examples of tessellations; and a page on capacity includes the trainer's bucket and the team bath. And if a particular area of maths will not naturally lend itself to the soccer context, the authors make no attempt to force a connection.
Each page is even captioned with its own soccer-speak encouragement such as: "Even if you need extra time, I'm sure you can finish them off!" And as the children mark their work, goals are scored which can be converted to points leading to, among other possibilities, League Championship, a European place or even relegation.
The Green Strip book provides practice for children working towards national curriculum levels 2 and 3; Yellow Strip, mainly level 3; Red Strip, levels 3 and 4; and Blue Strip, mainly level 4. The books are suitable for home or school. The illustrations, although mostly male, include a token smattering of female (or androgynous) fans and players.
* Paul Harrison is co-author of 'Maths 2000' and 'Nelson Maths' published by Thomas Nelson