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Maths - or is it numeracy these days? Is there a toy that might help?

(20 Posts)
hobie1 Sat 07-Dec-13 21:34:41

My 6.5 yr old is stuggling with maths. She just doesn't seem to be making much progress and although her teacher thinks she's doing 'fine' we feel that theres a real lack of progress and understanding. Being like her mother she doesn't much go for things that are difficult meaning she'll read, draw, etc all the time but maths just aint that much fun.

Does anyone have suggestions for a toy that might help her enjoy maths and maybe even help her make some progress? Or maybe websites? I'm going down this route as DD has v little 'screen time' at present and so any more would be a treat.

Thoughts and suggestions gratefully received.

muddyprints Sat 07-Dec-13 21:40:37

My dd is 6 and likes the magic cauldron game but it's just simple sums.
We also just make up games like playing shops to do cost, coins and change. Dividing sweets between her and sister, then dividing between 3 friends etc.
Education city has good maths games as does bbc ks1bitesize.

Ferguson Sat 07-Dec-13 22:41:51

Hi -
Yes, 'muddyprints' is on the right track. I was a TA and voluntary helper in primary schools for twenty years. I'll add below my normal response to these questions, and if you have any other specific queries let me know:


Practical things are best for grasping number concepts - bricks, Lego, beads, counters, money, shapes, weights, measuring, cooking.

Do adding, taking away, multiplication (repeated addition), division (sharing), using REAL OBJECTS as just 'numbers' can be too abstract for some children.

Number Bonds of Ten forms the basis of much maths work, so try to learn them. Using Lego or something similar, use a LOT of bricks (of just TWO colours, if you have enough) lay them out so the pattern can be seen of one colour INCREASING while the other colour DECREASES. Lay them down, or build up like steps.


ten of one colour none of other
nine of one colour one of other
eight of one colour two of other
seven of one colour three of other

etc, etc

then of course, the sides are equal at 5 and 5; after which the colours 'swap over' as to increasing/decreasing.

To learn TABLES, do them in groups that have a relationship, thus:

x2, x4, x8

x3, x6, x12

5 and 10 are easy

7 and 9 are rather harder.

Starting with TWO times TABLE, I always say: "Imagine the class is lining up in pairs; each child will have a partner, if there is an EVEN number in the class. If one child is left without a partner, then the number is ODD, because an odd one is left out."

Use Lego bricks again, lay them out in a column of 2 wide to learn 2x table. Go half way down the column, and move half the bricks up, so that now the column is 4 bricks wide. That gives the start of 4x table.

Then do similar things with 3x and 6x.

With 5x, try and count in 'fives', and notice the relationship with 'ten' - they will alternate, ending in 5 then 10.

It is important to try and UNDERSTAND the relationships between numbers, and not just learn them 'by rote'.

I am sorry it seems complicated trying to explain these concepts, but using Lego or counters should make understanding easier.

An inexpensive solar powered calculator (no battery to run out!) can help learn tables by 'repeated addition'. So: enter 2+2 and press = to give 4. KEEP PRESSING = and it should add on 2 each time, giving 2 times table.

There are good web sites, which can be fun to use :


juniper9 Sat 07-Dec-13 23:33:49

I always recommend this

mathanxiety Sun 08-Dec-13 05:01:14

Cuisenaire rods are nice for visual learners and illustrate the relationship between addition and subtraction, so they don't look like one set of boring and pointless facts followed by another set of boring and pointless facts.

Sample activities.

mathanxiety Sun 08-Dec-13 05:14:03

You can also google Montessori maths activities, or if you wish, call it math and you may get more American materials.

Some Montessori ideas here

Take a look at Youtube for more Montessori inspiration.

There are also lots of apps.

Cerisier Sun 08-Dec-13 05:29:11

My DDs grew up playing the Orchard Toys games and especially liked the shopping list game (website here).

I am a maths teacher so was keen to do as much maths as reading and writing at home. I used a big box of old buttons for counting games, we did lots of cooking and practised times tables and number bonds on every car journey.

strruglingoldteach Sun 08-Dec-13 08:11:06

Try the 'ict games' website. Particularly the 'save the whale' game under 'number facts' and 'pay for it' in the money section. My Y1 daughter enjoys both. We also have a few apps on my phone- numbugs is quite a fun one.

mrz Sun 08-Dec-13 08:42:48

Good old fashioned board games like snakes and ladders are great, card games, dominoes etc. You can buy Numicon shapes for under £5 on Amazon to make number bonds /petters visible (alternative to Cuisenaire rods).

MiaWallace Sun 08-Dec-13 14:43:47

This game is brilliant for working on number bonds

columngollum Sun 08-Dec-13 15:30:24

I was looking at montessori materials the other day and it seemed as though you need a whole room full of equipment for it. I lost interest pretty quickly.

mrz Sun 08-Dec-13 16:00:51 are great but Australian not sure if there are any UK stockists.

noramum Sun 08-Dec-13 17:32:22

DD's school uses Topmarks website and ICT games a lot.

She also has a board game called "Spider Maths".

OldRoan Sun 08-Dec-13 17:45:26

Shut the Box is brilliant, and DP will no longer play it with me because I get too competitive. Fortunately the children I teach have no such choice (but I do let them win, most of the time wink).

Set up a 'supermarket' in your living room and 'price' the ingredients for cake making (or similar) - I would pre-weigh them and put into little freezer bags. Go through a recipe with her (2 eggs, 1 bag of flour, 1 block of butter) and decide what you need to buy, then in the 'shop' she will need to count out the eggs etc, and use coins to buy the ingredients (1p coins for prices up to 10p will be most useful, probably). At the end the two of you can make the cake together.

Also, remember that children do not just get better at the same rate throughout the year. Maybe she is going through a slow-ish point at the moment. The lack of understanding would concern me more, which is why tangible activities will be helpful. Get some lego or similar to make into towers of 10 and break apart to explore number bonds. Make patterns by drawing shapes (she could draw and colour in as you tell her, eg. 'red circle, pink heart, red circle, pink heart') and ask her what will come next.

I like the topmarks website, and crickweb.

hobie1 Sun 08-Dec-13 20:41:44

Wow! Thanks everyone - this is great. And appears to obviate the need to buy in any further electronic gadgetry into the house. We'll just keep plodding on with the clonky old laptop - which runs so slowly she'll either develop patience or entirely lose interest!

I like the supermarket idea and a few more board games might just find there way into stockings this year.

Quangle Mon 09-Dec-13 17:04:34

Yes shut the box is good (got that after a recommendation on here and I play it quite happily with DCs who are 7 and 4 - 4yo gets some help obviously). And the BBC Bitesize and I think there's another BBC thing that the DCs have enjoyed - like Bitesize but I cannot remember the name <helpful>

nlondondad Wed 11-Dec-13 12:06:25

There are a lot of good number teaching computer games around.

The trick is to find out what version of (Windows?) your "clunky" laptop is running and then do an online search for maths games that will run under that operating system.

MillyMollyMama Wed 11-Dec-13 12:47:31

I think all the recommendations for you to actually play a game with your child are great so you can interact and talk about the numbers. Sitting with a computer is not really a substitute for talking and explaining. I was taught cribbage from the age of 6 and pontoon. Great card games for manipulating numbers and my children enjoyed them too.

juliemaths Wed 11-Dec-13 20:43:26

I recommend playing lots of board games with your daughter. Find ones with dice for moving - preferably 2 to improve number bonds. Junior Monopoly would be good as I think that involves money too.

mathanxiety Thu 12-Dec-13 06:14:18

Tangram puzzles and the like are also good for maths related thinking.

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