12th January 2007 at 00:00
Sing your Times Tables with Percy Parker

By Andrew Holdsworth for Method and Madness productions

CD, Method and Madness Music pound;9.99 (inc p and p)

PO Box 52285 London SW16 1WX Tel: 020 8677 9330

CD-Rom and workbook

Sherston pound;46.94 (single user) Tel: 01666 843200

John Dabell sings his times tables then works out in the Number Gym

The times table is one of the trickiest areas of the maths curriculum to teach creatively. The formidable number of facts to learn imposes great demands on children, so thank goodness for the contribution singing can make. Andrew Holdsworth, who teaches music at Hurst Lodge School in Ascot, has written 17 catchy and memorable songs in the voice of Percy Parker, a retired teacher and cool grandad figure. Children can join in with Percy and his group of child singers all the way to 12x12.

The multimedia version on CD-Rom, ideal for interactive whiteboards, is well designed and packed with colourful graphics, fun animations and quality sound. A neat touch is the option to select band, lyrics and numbers during song play. There is an interactive tables' grid with a simple hide-and-reveal feature. There is also a comprehensive workbook, which contains lyrics, music scores and activities to photocopy. Both resources are good value.

Not all children like Percy's persona, however; some might prefer a younger, hip-hop alternative. But others enjoy the children's vocals and the choruses that let them fill in their answers.

Judge for yourself on the website. Not number one in the times-table charts, perhaps, but definitely in the top 10.

The CD-Rom is available on 21 days' free approval, is registered with Curriculum Online and can be purchased using e-Learning credits

The Number Gym

Number Gym Software pound;35 (single PC), pound;75 (2-5 users), pound;95 (6-10 users), pound;125 (unlimited) Tel: 01727 759439

Demonstration versions on

This clever, visually striking collection of interactive maths activities supports the teaching of basic skills through primary and early secondary.

All the resources are based around the teacher and learner interacting with the computer.

Some activities are open-ended, designed to be used as an introduction or refresher to a particular concept, whereas others are challenge-based and involve specific tasks for learners to achieve, some of which can be run at different levels of difficulty. The activities would make good discussion points and are probably best for focused group work.

The most inventive and interactive activities are the number line counting challenge, exploring angles and flexible geometry. The times- table challenge is probably the least exciting. Number Gym is suitable for all ability levels, but lower-attaining learners will benefit most. Similar maths experiences can be found free on the internet, but not all in the same place Check out more reviews at

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