Tes Maths: Back-to-school activities

Craig Barton
01st September 2017
Maths equipment ready for starting a new year at secondary school

Cover all bases and kick-start another year of teaching maths with this selection of stimulating activities

Happy new school year! September is back and so are your students, all of whom seem to have forgotten every ounce of mathematical knowledge they once had.

So, get the new term off to a flying start with this selection engaging, mathematically sound and, dare I say, even fun exercises, designed to make the return to school as painless as possible. And for even more inspiration, why not visit the GCSE maths hub, jam-packed with resources that have been hand-selected by the Tes Maths panel? 

As always, a big thank you must go to the generous and incredibly talented members of the Tes Maths community, whose resources make time fly and provide invaluable support for teachers all year around. It’ll be Christmas before you know it!

Craig Barton, Tes Maths Adviser

First lessons

  • Back-to-school activities
    Ease younger learners into KS3 with this cross-curricular icebreaker, in which they’ll get to know their peers through estimating, measuring and recording each other’s heights.
  • Mathematical name cards
    Warm up your new students’ brains with collection of easily adaptable questions. Once completed, they also double up as handy name cards.
  • Maths rich task
    Ideal as an introductory lesson for Year 7s, this activity can be accessed by all abilities and includes an extra challenge for more-able learners.
  • Connecting times tables game
    Develop pupils' multiplication skills and encourage a healthy dose of competition with this twist on a classic game.

First week activities

4 activities for the first week back at school. Gives the children a chance to get to know each other and think/learn about themselves. A list of resources is included along with a worksheet and basic templates. The activities also include work that can be used for assessment.
By sphynx thinker

Mathematical Name Cards

Perfect starter for your first lesson with a new class, helping you get to know their names. Get the pupils to fold the paper/card along the dashed line then get them to write their name in the empty box. On the other side, pupils have four questions to complete. The name cards can then be displayed over the next few lessons to help you learn your pupils' names. Questions can easily be adapted depending on your class' ability.
By lane1988

Rich Maths Task 8 - Diffy

Have a play around with this task, and please share any questions, extensions, simplifications, modifications, or lines of inquiry in the comment box below. The idea is to collect loads of suggestions that can then be used for effective differentiation. The full set of these tasks, along with additional notes, can be found here: http://www.mrbartonmaths.com/richtasks.htm
By MrBartonMaths

Connect 5! Times table game

In the style of connect 4 the children must connect 5 numbers to win. They 'win&' a number by stating the correct times table calculation with that answer. Full instructions are included in the file. Works best when game boards can be printed and laminated for reuse - good as a lesson starter. Numbers can be adjusted to suit different times tables and abilities.
By mrspomme

​Problem-solving challenges

  • Problem-solving cards
    Expose students to non-routine problems and encourage them to communicate their methodology with this collection of challenging questions.
  • Puzzle sheets
    Suitable for the first few lessons, these challenges are ideal for helping pupils to think more deeply and work productively with their peers.
  • Question of the day
    Introduce the new GCSE specification and challenge learners to answer one non-routine problem a day with this comprehensive pack.
  • Lock problems
    Covering a wide range of topics, this themed activity adds a fun twist to testing understanding as learners solve a series of questions.

KS2/KS3 Problem Solving Questions - 10 Problems

Appealing in design and meeting the key aims of the new Maths National Curriculum, these questions will test pupils on many aspects of upper KS2 and early KS3 learning stages, encouraging them to utilise a variety of problem solving skills and confirming their understanding of the key principles.

Featuring a range of maths problems with varying difficulty levels and also suitable for foundation GCSE students, these questions are designed to be used within any classroom environment, adding fun and interest to an ordinary mathematics lesson, whilst exposing pupils easily to a variety of problem solving skills.

Here is a sample of 10 write-on question worksheets.

All of the problems have been designed to be used without the need of calculators.
By pencho

Maths Group Challenges Puzzle Sheets

These are ideal for keeping pupils busy for a period on problem-solving and number-crunching. The puzzles vary in difficulty so I let pupils do the questions on each sheet in any order- first team to get all correct wins!

The answers are included so you really just have to print and go!

Remember that if you like my TES resources, you should get my weekly Maths newsletter (to subscribe just email aap03102@gmail.com).
By aap03102

GCSE Problem Solving Questions of the Day - Compilation

This booklet contains over 50 problem solving questions suitable for KS3 and GCSE classes. These are the questions that we have been putting out each day in the run up to GCSE exams. The answers are also provided with each question.

There are problems that are suitable for foundation and higher and ones that are suitable for higher tier only.

We hope to release more questions like this over the course of next year that you can use on a regular basis with your classes including some open ended problems. Please keep a look out for our work.

In June 2016 we plan to release our new KS3 schemes of work. The schemes build on the work we have been doing within primary. We are keen to work with secondary schools next year who might be interested in implementing this KS3 scheme.

As always we welcome any feedback on the work we are doing and the materials that we are releasing.
Thank you for taking an interest in our work.

The White Rose Maths Hub Team

By WRMaths


11 Lock Problems (+ a template) that I put together after seeing the idea from Chris Smith (check out his resources on TES UK - inspirational ideas)Covering Rates & Ratios aimed at lower ability 14 year old, basic Probability & Counting Techniques aimed at middle ability 15 to 17 year olds, one for a seminar for higher level 17 yr old, but I didn't know their ability level, Basic Probability for lower ability 15 yr olds & basic statistics for lower ability 15 yr olds + so many more added since I last put these up. Check them out!
By stroevey

Post-16 exercises

  • Algebra skills sheets
    As learners make the jump from GCSE to A-level, ensure basic algebra and number skills are up to scratch with this range of questions, complete with solutions.
  • Year 12 skills evaluation
    Test prerequisite A-level skills and identify pupils who are in need of more support with this introductory assessment.
  • Core 1 algebra introduction
    Recap your Year 12s' understanding of algebra and set the tone for learning in the year ahead with this match-up activity.
  • Indices tasks
    Test students’ understanding of indices at a higher level and identify any common misconceptions they may have with this collection of exercises.

Year 12 Maths Entry Assessment

This assessment tests basic pre-requisite maths skills on entry to A level. It's editable so if you like the format but don't like the questions, feel free to change them!

The idea is to give this 15 minute test in the first maths lesson of Year 12 in order to identify any students who need immediate intervention. The intervention sessions can then be tailored to specific skills eg a session on expanding brackets, and a separate session on solving equations.

This assessment is print-friendly (one side of A4) and quick to mark. Teachers can complete the mini-feedback sheet for each student and staple it to their assessment, with details of upcoming intervention sessions.
By Jo Morgan

Introduction to C1 Algebra

Worksheets revising GCSE Algebra to lead into C1
By Susan Whitehouse


Revision of GCSE indices, extension to AS level work
By Susan Whitehouse

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