Number Scramble

Scrambled number maths activityThis is a great activity to encourage children to think about (and create) number rules. The focus is on practising calculations and identifying number patters.

Ask the children to work in pairs, give each child one of the Scrambled Number* sheets.

Each child now thinks of a rule involving one of the four operations. For example, "subtract 3". They then select a reasonable starting number on their Scrambled Number sheet and draw a circle around it. They apply their own rule to this number, find the answer, circle it and connect the two with an arrow. The same rule is applied again, until three numbers have been circled in a chain.

Add 13 - number scramble

The example here shows (In orange) "add 13", starting with 7:

7 -----> 20 -----> 33

The players now swap sheets and they have to work out the rule from the three numbers they see circled. They then circle a fourth number and draw an arrow to it (46, in grey, in the example above).

This could be a simple race to see who is the first to identify the number pattern, best out of three... or it could develop into a discussion between the children regarding the merits of each different pattern.

After the children are used to the activity, you could encourage them to use more complex rules, such as: (n x 2) - 5

The Number Scramble sheets run from 1 to 50, if the children produce a number pattern that goes beyond 50 they could simply add the necessary numbers in the spaces on the sheet.

For some children, or as a demonstration, it may be useful to enlarge the sheets.

Clearly this is really a number-line activity, but scrambling the numbers hides the otherwise potentially easy-to-spot patterns, and forces the children to think through each calculation.

A further extension could involve making Scrambled Number sheets using different sequences of numbers: 50 - 100;  1,000 - 1,050;  0.01 - 0.5

Here's an image of the six A5 Number Scramble sheets with numbers 1 - 50:

Number Scramble Maths activity

  


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33 Comments

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JillWatson's picture

Brilliantly simple idea - why

Brilliantly simple idea - why didn't I think of it. I will probably have to simplify it for my less Able children. A sheet with just the numbers to 20 would be ideal.
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Jill W
JillWatson's picture

Brilliantly simple idea - why

Brilliantly simple idea - why didn't I think of it. I will probably have to simplify it for my less Able children. A sheet with just the numbers to 20 would be ideal.
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1 user has voted.
Jill W
gjphilst's picture

This is an excellent resource

This is an excellent resource and a perfect starter for my Y5/6 class. Thank you.
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bignose3's picture

Another great resource -

Another great resource - thank you! Such a wide range of options to use with a mixed ability class. Can't wait to see what the children come up with!
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zoejagelman's picture

Another Great Resource! My

Another Great Resource! My mixed Yr3-6 Class enjoyed this game and challenged themselves far more than if we had started with some sequences to look at. Thank you.
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johdu's picture

Great comment - thanks very

Great comment - thanks very much for the feedback, much appreciated.
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carolinejohnston's picture

Good to have such open ended

Good to have such open ended activities in the class room, thanks.  
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jed5's picture

Thank you for this resource.

Thank you for this resource. I have tried it with my Year 3 class and found they really rose to the challenge and became quicker at mental strategies and spotting patterns.
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Kazkaz's picture

 A very simple but effective

 A very simple but effective idea. Laminating the sheets will save on copying too!
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A great way to stretch my

A great way to stretch my more able year 2s!  A fabulous idea!  Many thanks
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brinajo's picture

Will be using this in my

Will be using this in my early morning maths session. I'm sure the children will love the challenge.
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obeseparrot's picture

Great idea. Not seen anything

Great idea. Not seen anything like it before.
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ncteacher's picture

What a simple and yet great

What a simple and yet great idea (again).   Will use these tomorrow with my groups and let you know how we go on.  
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Great game, and very

Great game, and very versatile too. I love the fact that it challenges deeper thinking about the pattern rather than having it on a number line.
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rhoneyman's picture

 I think this is brilliant.

 I think this is brilliant. We have just started number patterns in Yr One and the students are sticking with the basic 2s, 5s, and 10s. Here's hoping this will steer them away and into a new world of number patterns!
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Tina09's picture

Using these again tomorrow.

Using these again tomorrow. Were a great motivator last year. Any plans to create with a mix of positive & negative numbers?
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johdu's picture

A good thought: I like the

A good thought: I like the positive/negative number string. We will certainly put it on our list of things to do. Thanks.
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Steve Jubb's picture

Yes, good fun! I used with a

Yes, good fun! I used with a student ( 1 to 1) needing to increase confidence in adding and subtracting. She added 3, and drew lines between the numbers, almost introducing a new rule "that the lines must not cross". Both of us were disappointed when there was no "51". I had printed and laminated this sheet at A5 size, which was perfectly usable. To include nos up to 100, ie 1-100, would therefore be no problem at A4. I think I could produce a 1 to 100 sheet, and if I succeed before you do one, I will E-Mail you my copy. Regards Steve Jubb
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johdu's picture

Thank you for sharing your

Thank you for sharing your ideas. I'm glad this is working well. Yes, the limit of 50 is a little arbitrary. I don't know whether this will help or not, but we create these on an excel spreadsheet No, it's not automated, but the cell spacing allows us to scatter the numbers more 'evenly' and we do have a *sum* function in place to help prevent duplicating numbers - otherwise it's a tricky process. Cheers.  
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Claire Hennegan's picture

Looking forward to using

Looking forward to using this. Thank you.
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mish20's picture

This maths resource works

This maths resource works really well.
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jokid's picture

Great game. I adapted it for

Great game. I adapted it for number bonds.
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newteach's picture

Brilliant resource.

Brilliant resource.
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tele70's picture

Ty for a great resource!!

Ty for a great resource!! Using this to develop mental strategies and modeling on the IWB as a great Maths starter of the day!
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percycat's picture

Such a simple but great idea,

Such a simple but great idea, can't wait to try this one out....can think of a million and one variations such as clock faces, money etc. It may not be suitable for dyslexics but for everyone else, you know what they say.."variety is the spice of life!"
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Pennfold's picture

A fantastic resource that we

A fantastic resource that we use loads - thank you
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massivesnail's picture

Im going to put this in my

Im going to put this in my maths chest for children who need some extension work!
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bubbles13's picture

Just got the resource and

Just got the resource and plan to try it out...also think it will help with patterns.
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I wish I'd seen this before,

I wish I'd seen this before, it's a great way to encourage pupils to look for patterns!
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Sarahlou_86's picture

Unique idea i'm interested in

Unique idea i'm interested in trying out.
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