# Mental & Oral

**How do you keep mental mathematics interesting? ...How do you engage children in 'estimating'? ...How do you make calculator work meaningful?**

These are all vital questions, and finding appropriate solutions can become increasingly difficult the further into Key Stage 2 you teach! **Read more »**

Here's a versatile idea that helps children** use and apply** their knowledge of **fractions **or **percentages **in a surprisingly fun way. You begin by showing the children something that appears to be a word puzzle, but actually contains some covert mathematics. **Read more »**

This week we offer a PowerPoint presentation that takes you through nine separate **mental challenges**. Each slide is based on a puzzle that involves connecting a series of numbers so that the total is always the same.

The puzzles are based on a pattern of lines and circles. Like this:

This is a straightforward **mental and oral maths idea** to encourage the children to use and apply their calculation skills. We've given it a small Mathsticks twist by utilising a unique visual resource, but more about that later.

Here's what happens.

A two digit random number is generated either by rolling two dice or selecting digit cards. This is the target number, and it is displayed on the board. **Read more »**

I always loved the idea of using the **Magic Square** concept with children since it offers so many opportunities to get to grips with problem solving. However, it always seemed to me that Magic Squares on their own lacked a sense of purpose; if they were set into a historical context, then that seemed fine - but purely as maths puzzles, they only ever seemed to interest a small number of children. **Read more »**

This starter idea focusses on** 2D Shape**. In particular the properties of shape and the correct use of shape related vocabulary. Like most of our mental and oral starter ideas it can be used as a group or individual activity too.

It is related to the "**Target Board**" activity we explored in Mental Mondays #13

Here's how this one works. You show a grid of 30 numbered shapes: **Read more »**

** In our previous mental and oral suggestion (Mental Monday #12) we focussed on calculation. **That activity involved displaying a grid of numbers and challenging the children to choose numbers to solve specific problems.

**Read more »**

**This mental and oral starter is a quick way to display a range of calculations.**

Like our other mental and oral starter ideas this is easy to adapt to suit the needs and abilities of a range of children.

The idea here consists of a coloured number grid and a series of questions. We have attached a PowerPoint file with a selection of grids.

You display one such gird, like this: **Read more »**

**With this week’s mental and oral starter idea we are thinking about counting on (and counting back) and place value.**

Like most of our other suggestions this can very easily be adapted to suit the needs of your children, which means it could be used with **Early Years** right up to **Key Stage 3**. We have also found that it adds a renewed level of interest and enthusiasm to ‘counting on’. **Read more »**

**This is a great little Mental and Oral starter in which the children have to identify the different digits within a number.**

The focus is on using **number properties** and problem solving strategies. However, this starter also reinforces place value. **Read more »**

**This week's Mental and Oral activity is a little different - not one idea, but five.**

We thought it would be a good time to look back at some of the maths games and resources we have already published here... and find a handful that could easily be turned into fresh **Mental and Oral starters** for almost any class. So, we have selected the following five:

**Here's a little gem that turns those very versatile empty number lines on their heads - figuratively speaking!**

The main virtue of an empty number line is that 'emptyness' - they can be adapted to any purpose. Here, we keep them empty and challenge children to use their '**problem solving skills**' and to use and apply their knowledge of **number calculations** to determine which numbers are missing. **Read more »**

**This time we offer a Mental and Oral maths activity which focusses on using a specific strategy to give addition a speed boost.**

This teaching activity enables children to gain confidence in reordering the numbers of an addition problem to make that problem easier. The focus is on looking for pairs which create a specific total.

You show an addition problem like this one:

**30 + 10 + 70 + 40 + 90** **Read more »**

**This Mental and Oral activity is based on using number fans or digit cards to aid understanding of number properties or offer opportunities to practice calculations.** **Read more »**

**This Mental and Oral activity is based on the properties of shape.**

It is quite a simple idea, but the focus is on the correct use of vocabulary and on the children's thinking skills. Therefore, as well as being a 'thoughtful' starter, it will also generate some good assessment opportunites.

Here's how we play it: **Read more »**

**This Mental and Oral activity revolves around number bonds (or complements) to 100**.

Children work in pairs, using a mini-whiteboard. Ask them to draw a three by three grid and to quickly fill the grid with different multiples of 5. When they have completed this the teacher starts to call out random multiples of 5, children can circle a number on their grid if it is the other half of the pair totalling exactly 100 (the complement to 100). **Read more »**

**This Mental and Oral activity focuses on developing children's use and understanding of number properties.**

Children work in pairs, using a mini-whiteboard or a scribble pad in order to determine the identity of two 'secret' numbers. The information you give them about these numbers is related to addition and multiplication, for example: **Read more »**

**This first Mental & Oral activity is focused on collaborative calculation**. The children are shown four numbers with the instruction that they work in pairs on mini-whiteboards to devise calculations that will make all four numbers equal.

The activity is easily prepared and can be differentitated. Younger children could be asked to use addition (and/or subtraction). For example, with the following four numbers displayed... **Read more »**

**Mental and Oral **calculation work was introduced nationally in 1999 as part of the **National Numeracy Strateg****y**. At the time, there was a concern that children's mental calculation skills were weak. As a result the focus of each mathematical lesson was on strengthening children's oral and mental skills. **Read more »**

**This is a great way to get children discussing the mental strategies they use when calculating**.

The idea is that the children have to follow a series of instructions to arrive at an unknown number. The image on the left shows a chain of number operations. The starting point is **2**, to which 4 is added (making 6), this is then multiplied by 2 (giving 12), divided by 6 (making 2) then, finally, 1 is added (to end with 3). **Read more »**