Toolbox for the job

11th March 2005 at 00:00
MULTI-E-MATHS PRIMARY MATHS TOOLBOX CD-ROM. Series consultant Anita Straker. Cambridge-Hitachi, pound;300 + VAT. Tel: 01223 325013. Email:

VISUAL FRACTIONS. Logotron, pound;45 for single user licence, pound;99 for 10, pound;158 for 25. Tel: 01223 425 558. Email:

Veronica Poku looks at on-screen maths aids

Technophobe or not, the interactive CD-Rom Multi-e-Maths Primary Maths Toolbox, which aims to enhance whiteboard teaching, will appeal to even the most wary.

The layout on the screen is simple and colourful, with non-threatening bubble-shaped tools in the toolbox. The program covers all areas of the yearly teaching programme in the National Numeracy Strategy.

However, what makes this CD-Rom different is that teachers can then create their own examples or lessons based on these areas. So, using the Measures icon, you can create a calibrated beaker and create problems where the children have to work out how much liquid needs to be, or has been, removed. Or, you can create 100 squares and number lines that can be marked up using decimals, fractions or integers. They can then be worked on directly by the whole class via the whiteboard. Children can be encouraged to create their own problems to share with the class. This could act as a sort of assessment tool for the busy teacher.

There are also six sheets to be used with each screen. This will enable teachers and children to move between linked work and examples without too much trouble. Teaching notes are provided along with resource sheets that can be downloaded to give extra support if needed. This will be an exciting addition to the growing number of interactive teaching resources that are now available and, as it says as part of its own summary, it will engage you while you enjoy your maths.

Visual Fractions is part of a project to maximise screen-based opportunities for maths learning. The screen layout with the icons is simple and bold. The Activity and Reference guides are detailed and take you through the subject areas step-by-step with added illustrations.

The only trouble I encountered was when trying to use the LockUnlock activity button to try to adapt the question. The extra toolbar seems to complicate matters and - if used on a whiteboard - would perhaps confuse the children because there is too much visual information. However, activities such as "What is a half?" can be differentiated and would involve pupils in an enjoyable maths exploration.

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