Primary maths: Calculations with four operations

Sian Evans
22nd November 2017
Addition, subtraction, multiplication and division symbols to represent primary calculation with four operations

Top resources to make sure that pupils combine addition, subtraction, multiplication and division with confidence

At the heart of most mathematical problems is the requirement to add, subtract, multiply, divide or, more commonly in real-life, a combination of the four operations. Not only does this mean that students need to be fluent with all of the processes, but they also need to know which order to use them. Sounds tricky? It doesn’t need to be with this helpful collection of ready-to-use resources, all created by members of the Tes community.

Classroom activities

Practising these types of questions is all about helping students to select the right tools to solve the problem. Even within this selection of resources, there is a wide range of activities to keep your learners stimulated.


Four Operations Problem Solving Cards

40 cards that look at addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Handy to just give children as a challenge task or a starter to get them thinking, with questions that challenge fluency, reasoning and problem solving.

Written with 5/6 in mind but could be used in other year groups.
By krisgreg30

Year 6 - Four Operations - Weeks 3 - 6

Four weeks worth of resources on four operations.

This bundle contains all four packs on Year 6 four operations and covers all small steps within this topic.  The resources aim to help children gain a deeper understanding of the concepts covered in the topic.  

The resources include pictorial and abstract representations as well as reasoning and problem solving activities and more open ended problems to support and extend your whole class.

I hope you find them useful
By MKConnolly

Lesson ideas

Most of the frustration surrounding the four operations is based on using them in the wrong order. That’s why it’s worth taking the time to clearly explore how it all works with help from these straightforward explanations.


Addition, subtraction, multiplication and division

A Powerpoint that looks at the relationship between addition and subtraction and between multiplication and division.
Useful as an introduction or a recap for children, exploring the links between operations as well as introducing algebraic links for children and the way in which the equals sign can move about fluidly. Includes questions for children to try and solve, with some being more complex than others.
By krisgreg30

UKS2 (Year 5 and Year 6) Ordering calculations using BODMAS

Learning Objectives

- To perform (mental) calculations.
- To revise factors, multiples and prime factors.

Main Lesson:
- To solve problems involving addition, subtraction, multiplication and division and a combination of these, including understanding the meaning of the equals sign (Year 5)
- To use their knowledge of the order of operations to carry out calculations involving the 4 operations (Year 6)
- To use conventional notation for the priority of operations, including brackets, powers and roots (KS3)

This lesson consists of:

A Starter consisting of a series of progressively harder, multi-step calculations and revision of common factors, common multiples and prime factors. A connect activity getting children to begin to understand why it is necessary to have a specific order when undertaking multi-step calculations.

An Interactive Whiteboard teaching introduction for both Notebook and ActivInspire flipchart, to teach how to apply BODMAS to brackets and orders / powers. This includes a PowerPoint presentation showing defining, explaining and applying BODMAS to two different calculations.

A 4-way differentiated series of tasks requiring children to use BODMAS to carry out multi step calculations with all four operations, with brackets, squared and cube numbers and how to balance equations. A stretch challenge including square roots. Answer sheet provided to support marking.

A final AFL / Next Steps task, asking children to correct mistakes in 3 multi-step calculations.
By MikeRichards

Calculations with four operations

Mathematical discussion is a key element of the Mathematics Mastery programme.

Talk Tasks are a brilliant way of enabling pupils to develop their mathematical language, thinking, understanding and confidence.

This activity explores the concept of calculating with four operations

• Talk tasks are best completed in mixed attainment pairs, with pupils taking turns to listen and construct arguments
• Emphasis is on discussion rather than the solution, encouraging pupils to use key language and talk in full sentences
• Ask pupils to prove their answers in a variety of ways, using the CPA approach to support mathematical understanding and number sense

Like what you see? Mathematics Mastery is a professional development programme for teachers with a mission to transform mathematics education in the UK.

This task is just a taster of the complete classroom resources we offer. We also provide in-depth development training, online CPD, specialist support and assessment tools.

We believe all elements of our programme are vital in creating lasting change – enabling every child to enjoy and succeed in mathematics.

Want to find out more? Check out our free resources and blogs or join an information session.
By Mathematics Mastery

Games and displays

Along with being popular amongst students, games are a great way of securing understanding as they provide the opportunity to visualise the problem and the solution. Plus, visual prompts, such as displays around the classroom, can be just the reminder a learner needs to succeed. 


Dice Game for Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication.

Suitable for paired or individual work. Also great as a holding activity.
Roll the dice, write the number in the first box. Roll again then add/subtract/multiply the two numbers. Record on the worksheets.
There are 4 worksheets that are great to photocopy and reuse.
Differentiation: lower abilities use a dice with spots to enable easier counting. Can use with 1-to-1 correspondence to enable easier counting.
Higher abilities can use numbered dice.
By smidgealot

Multiplication, division, addition and subtraction challenge

3 quizzes to reinforce multiplication, division, addition and subtraction. In the multiplication crossword pupils have to solve the operations and then complete the crossword using the answers. In the addition and subtraction challenge pupils complete the sums then look for the answer in the word search. The division challenge pupils complete 24 operations. Support is provided. Solution is provided for the division and multiplication challenge.

This would be great to do as a starter, quiz or end of year challenge. Ideal too for homework or cover work.
By rooney33


Resources included are as follows:

A4 operations posters with cute symbols with faces
A4 poster showing all 4 operations
Posters for addition, subtraction, multiplication with alternative words such as subtract, less, fewer, minus, take away etc
Large flashcards of alternative words for subtraction (half A4 landscape)
Large flashcards of alternative words for addition (half A4 landscape)
Large flashcards of alternative words for multiplication (half A4 landscape)
Large flashcards of alternative words for division (half A4 landscape)
Operations flashcards to use for group work
Table top reminders
Bunting spelling addition
Bunting spelling subtraction
Bunting spelling division
Bunting spelling multiplication
Bunting to spell operations
A4 topic title page to add to small display
Long banner to head wall display
Large letters to spell operations
Binder, folder, spine and drawer labels to keep resources organised
Backing paper to add to display – to print if needed
Colourful borders to edge wall display
Mini word cards to add to display or use during activities – includes words used for each operations
Operations sorting activity, includes sorting cards and recording chart
Number chart 1-100
Number cards 1 to 144 to use for sums
Operations cards to use to make sums
Operations cards to use to make sums – with smiley faces
Equals signs cards with and without cute faces
Question mark cards to use to make sums
60 Addition sums cards
60 Subtraction sums cards
60 Multiplication sums cards
60 Division sums cards
By ReachOut Resources

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