Monday, 29 February 2016



The objectives for the National Curriculum have recently changed and for the first time this year students in Year 2 and 6 will be tested on their reasoning skills in maths. This now involves the completion of multi step word problems.  Maths word problems can seem daunting to students. However there are questions and strategies that you can encourage your child to apply which can   develop their confidence in their mathematical reasoning and support them in recording their thinking as they complete word problems.
Encourage your child to read and re-read the question attempting a word problem.  Some children may find it useful to sketch or even build a simple model in order to visualise and understand the question.  Colour coding, circling, underlining or boxing key words are also effective tools in developing an understanding of the question.  At this stage, your child should ask themselves, “What is the problem asking?"  Your child should also consider and predict what a reasonable answer to the question might be.
As your child solves the word problem they should record their thinking and strategies; for example: by working backwards through the problem, using lists or charts and noting any patterns.  During the solving process, your child should consider if their strategy is effective.  Recording their thinking is important as marks can be awarded for using the correct method.
After solving the problem, encourage your child to check their calculations and ask themselves if they have answered the question, and that their answer makes sense.  Finally, they should write their answer in a sentence using mathematical vocabulary.

The following mnemonics - RUCSAC and CUBES- are useful strategies in to use in developing a problem solving skills.

Read and re-read the question.
Underline key words.
Choose the operation or operations.  
   Do I need to add, subtract, multiply or divide?
Solve the problem - record thinking and strategies.
Answer the question in a sentence.
Check the answer.

Circle important words
Underline the question or questions
Box the actions
Eliminate extra unnecessary information
Solve the question and show your thinking.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016


This is a great game for practising any of the multiplication tables.  It also gives them an opportunity to use mathematical vocabulary in a real life situation. 

1. Give the students a strip of paper and ask them to divide it in quarters, or halve it and then halve it again.  (I teach students that they can multiple any number by 4 by double and double again.  Likewise they can divide by 4 by halving and halving again). 

2. Ask the children to write a multiple of the multiplication table that they are practising.  In this example I used multiples of 3.  They should a multiple in each quarter in any order.





3.  Roll two dice.  The students can choose whether to add the numbers (factors) together or select a number from one of the dice to multiply by 3.  For example:

The student can say 3 x 3 = 9 or 3 x 4 (4 x 3) = 12 or 3 x 7 (7 x 3) = 21.

4.  If the answer is in one of the end quarters, the student may rip it off. 

5.  The student should keep the ripped quarter so that you have the option of asking the student to read their numbers back to you if they think they have won. I keep a note of the numbers that have occurred in the game.

6.  If the answer is ‘trapped’ in a middle quarter the student must wait until an end has been ripped off and that number is then ‘freed.’

7.  So if the student throws the above dice, they can rip off 12, leaving them with three numbers.




8.  The game continues until a student has ripped off all four numbers.  When this happens they should call out “Lotto!”  Ask the student to read their numbers.

9.  This game can be played as a group or whole class activity.  You may find it useful to keep a note of the multiples that have been used during the game.

You may find it useful to know that I have used this game to teach the numbers in French.  It can also be adapted to teach the colours, animals, transportation in any language that your students are learning.