Number games;Reviews;Books

22nd October 1999 at 01:00
PLAYING WITH NUMBERS - puzzles for the daily maths lesson. By Michael Cornelius. Cambridge University Press pound;29.95.

There are so many ways you can use Playing with Numbers to inject a bit of creativity into your numeracy hours. You could choose one of the activities as "Problem of the Week". A few, photocopied on to cards, could be laid out on the maths table for children to engage with when they have one of those spare moments that are increasingly rare in schools or, using the suggested extensions and adaptations, you could have one or more of your tables working on the same problem all at the same time. They can be used as reinforcement or support, but many deserve to become the main focus of a lesson.

Michael Cornelius has carved out a niche as a collector and compiler of mathematical games and this latest collection is a particularly timely package. Sources for the activities range from around the world: the first one is a simplified version of a Hawaiian game called Lu Lu, played with discs of volcanic stone (it works just as well with cardboard ones).

There are answers and notes for teachers at the back of the book, as well as learning objectives and suggested national curriculum levels. Activities are bundled according to three age groups but most are accessible over a wider range by simplifying or using the developments suggested in the teacher's notes.

Many of them need a set of number cards, while dice, coins and counters are needed for others.

I shall use the book to help me set homework activities which will be enjoyable and manageable for children, and be likely to draw in other members of the family. I am saving the puzzle about the punishment of Pythagoras's servant until we start on the ancient Greeks!

Laurie Rousham teaches a Y4 class at Broke Hall school in Ipswich, Suffolk

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