Sure tip

21st March 2003 at 00:00
Children find horse racing just as exciting as adults do. Tape a few races on a Saturday afternoon and do some research in your local betting shop.

You will need a pile of betting shop slips, a newspaper showing the runners and a video recorder.

Even very young children can understand a "double" (two horses in different races must win), but each-way bets are difficult to explain. Your pupils can all choose the same horse or form groups to choose different horses together.

Obviously, no money changes hands but you can gradually introduce prices.

For teachers who have no knowledge of gambling, your local betting shop will be happy to explain. Do not be surprised if some of the children know the ins and outs and copy their fathers.

The mathematical knowledge that children can learn from racing is extensive. It is also a social activity and could include discussions on whether gambling is acceptable, and why some adults believe that winning money will make their lives better.

It needs to be stressed that children under 18 are not allowed in betting shops or to gamble and that, at school, racing is a game.

Here's a simple bet for children from Year 1 or 2 to work out.

Talk to the children about "stakes" and "odds". If you win at 92 (four and half times your stake) you get your winnings and your original stake back.

pound;1 to win at 92 equals pound;5.50, so a pound;10 stake wins pound;55.

Helene Bird, early years consultant, Buckinghamshire

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