Saturday, 31 January 2015

Fun with Mental Maths

Learning about numbers involves becoming familiar with numbers and manipulating them without writing. I like my children to have some practice with mental maths every day so was pleased to be able to review a game, Numero and New Wave Mental Maths books from Prim-Ed.  

Prim-Ed is an educational publishing company based in Co Wexford but in addition to supplying books to Ireland, it has resources linked to the National Curriculum. It has separate sections on its website for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Obviously, as home educators, we don't have to keep to the National Curriculum but maths is a subject where we tend to watch the National Curriculum closely. 

We were able to review the New Wave Mental Maths Year 2 book and the New Wave Mental Maths Year 3 book.
New WAve Mental Maths Workbooks are available from year 2 to year 6, with a year 6 extension book also available. The books are attractively presented with a clear font although not with the use of  an infant style a. The books are set out with a ten question test for each day from Monday to Friday. The final column is for assessment: scores can be kept here and there is a place for a teacher's comment. The back of the book has number squares, a list of symbols, properties of shapes and lists of days of the week and months of the year, information about money and time. 

Obviously, the idea of the book is to use it daily. One of my children was very keen and soon realised that she could do two days' work in one. My daughter, in year 3, could do a test in less than five minutes. My younger child took rather longer. 

Dot to dots were especially popular. New concepts are gradually introduced such as symmetry, interpretation of charts, addition of higher numbers and fractions. On some weeks, the results could be plotted on a simple graph.

What did we think?
These are a quick and painless way to practise mental maths. We will be continuing to use these books. The tests are quick and the children enjoyed them.

New Wave Mental Maths workbooks cost a very reasonable £3.99 per book.

Numero is a game designed to make mental maths practice fun.
 We were sent a Numero starter pack consisting of cards, an instructors guide
and a poster with the basic rules.

Numero has a fascinating history. It was invented by Frank Drysdale who was a teacher of physical education and minister until a diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease forced him to retire in 1989. Four years after this, he devised Numero as a game to play with his grandchildren and to help him to continue to use his own mind. Royalties from the sale of Numero games go to The Drysdale Family Foundation Trust to further the work of Alzheimer's Australia.

The beauty of Numero is that it can be played at different levels. We started at the most basic level which works on addition skills. The game is quite simple although it is necessary to read the instructors guide before starting. There are three basic moves: a take, a build and a discard. Although the rules are simple, there is ample opportunity to use strategy. At the most basic level, only addition is used but wild cards are added so that the game can use subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, square, cubes and square roots. We haven't added all of these yet but have enjoyed adding the simpler wild cards. The game ends when one player has run out of cards. The winner has the most cards; alternatively, a slightly more complex scoring can be used which gives extra value to certain cards.

We played Numero with two and three players. The children are aged eight and six. They managed the lower levels well. Obviously, it wouldn't be appropriate to introduce wild cards before children understand the relevant concept but is a fun way to re-enforce ideas. 

What we thought
The children love this game and request it. I found that reading the Instructors Manual was necessary before playing. This takes a few minutes and it is wise to have read this before deciding to start a game!  This game is an excellent and fun way to practice mental maths concepts. Recommended for home educators and other parents who want to help their children with mental maths.

A Numero starter pack costs £6.95.

I was provided with these products for the purpose of this review. The opinions are my own and those of my children. We were not required to provide a positive review nor were we compensated in any other way.

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  1. Those look like great resources. I am thinking that J needs some mental math help or confidence. He was checking his archery score with me. I might need to throw some of this in his day.

  2. Mental math is a great way to see if your kid is retaining math facts. It's one of the things I do like about our current Saxon math curriculum.