Puzzling explanations

22nd September 2000 at 01:00
FOURBIDDEN. By Phil Dodd pound;5.50. EIGHT DAYS A WEEK. By Chris Bills pound;4.50. MATHEMATICAL PUZZLES. By Alwyn Spencer. pound;8.50. The Association of Teachers of Mathematics, 7 Shaftesbury Street, Derby, DE23 8YB. Tel: 01332-346599Fax: 01332-204357E-mail: atm_maths@compuserve.comWeb: www.atm.org.uk

20 per cent discount for members

TIMES TABLES. CD-Rom pound;19.99, or download free from website. Satsoft, 32A Church Lane, Pudsey, Leeds, LS28 7RF.Tel: 0113 236 2655. Fax: 0113-256-3040Web: www.satsoft.co.uk

How can you describe a hexagon without using the four words "sides", "six", "shape", or "bees"? The Fourbidden pack gives 52 similar challenges, each in playing-card format. If that challenge is too demanding, suggestions for other games are given - for example, guessing the "fourbidden" terms for "consecutive", "decimal", or "zero".

This is a cheap and simple resource which will stimulate mathematical language in pupils of almost any age.

Eight Days A Week offers 52 sets of eight puzzle questions "to activate the mind". The compilers have selected questions to give a wide appeal - for use in pub quizzes, parish magazines etc - to people of all ages and backgrounds. Teachers in both primary and secondar schools will also find them useful, as starters, group challenges, or homework.

The activities in Mathematical Puzzles are presented on A4 card - in most cases, one card gives the board for the puzzle, and the other contains the pieces for cutting out. Many puzzles involve numbers, but logic and shape are included. The puzzles are mostly well known, but key stage 2 or 3 teachers who need a basic but stimulating collection will find them useful, particularly as permission is given for making photocopies, even multiple sets.

Satsoft's Times Tables CD-Rom offers four colourful games for practising tables facts.

In each the player has a choice of difficulty levels and is faced with questions (for example 6 x 5) and four possible answers.

Tables up to 12 are featured, and, bizarrely, the 6 and 10 times tables are at the same difficulty level.

Children who like such games will pass an enjoyable few minutes and practise some tables facts. However, they will not learn anything new; the games focus on the recall of previously learned facts and there is no encouragement to work out more troublesome new ones.

Alan Parr is a primary mathematics writerand in-service training provider

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