Mental Mondays #13

mental and oral mathsIn 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.

While this starter idea looks similar on the surface, it has a different focus. Here we display a grid of numbers and ask children to identify particular numbers according to a set of properties. It is what some call a "Target Board" activity.

Here's how it works. You show a grid of 20 numbers:

Then ask children to write on mini-whiteboards a number they can see on the grid that is, for example:

-  An odd number...

-  A multiple of 5...

-  A square number...

-  A triangular number...

-  A number 4 away from a prime number...

Clearly, the first statement has many potential options, you make it clear that any one will do. The next three statements are slightly more tricky, and the final one is more advanced still and should provoke some thought and conversation.

As with most of our Mental and Oral starter ideas, there are two main thrusts behind the activity:

  • The real power that drives the learning is in the conversations that the children have about what they are doing - sharing knowledge and strategies
  • The idea is totally flexible, and can me made more or less challenging with ease.

Many other potential statements can be created:

A number where... the Tens digit is twice that of the Units digit

A number which... has 4 factors

A number where... the digits sum to 12

A number which... is a factor of 63 and 140

A number where... both digits are prime numbers


Just for completeness, we've added a pdf attachment with three different Target Grids and a set of suggested questions.

Target boards for mental and oral starter

If you like this mental & Oral starter idea please send us some Google+ love, and let your friends and colleagues know about


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
elaineheck's picture

Great ideas - thank

Great ideas - thank you. Through this, the children can vocalise their understanding, which helps to make it stronger. Looking forard to using it with my new class next term!
0 users have voted.
matthewdjwright's picture

I like this.  

I like this.  
0 users have voted.
RachelAlex's picture

 Will be using this wonderful

 Will be using this wonderful resource with my class tomorrow. Can be used to differentiate according to the needs of the children in your class.
1 user has voted.
susanspurr's picture

Thankyou so much- had a

Thankyou so much- had a training session tonight and target boards were discussed- I will try these tomorrow and see how my class find them. Susan Spurr
0 users have voted.
jaylee21uk's picture

 Another thing i have seen

 Another thing i have seen before but didn't really consider ways of using it. Thanks for the great ideas. 
0 users have voted.
ceme1958's picture

We will use this as a talk

We will use this as a talk partner activity. Thanks
1 user has voted.
Pennfold's picture

A good way to extend and

A good way to extend and consolidate mathematical language and properties of numbers.
0 users have voted.
yoyo123's picture

 Deceptively simple yet very

 Deceptively simple yet very useful resource. I cover all classes in KS1 and 2 so can us ethis idea as a quick strater with all of them by varying the questions . We are focussing on talking and learning throughout the school and this will really encourage children to think and explain about how they have tackled the problem. Thank you for yet another excellent idea.
3 users have voted.
janbailey1's picture

Thank you for this resource.

Thank you for this resource. I can use it to strech my more able Year 2 children whilst asking questions that all the children can answer.
1 user has voted.
rhoneyman's picture

This is good - anything that

This is good - anything that helps the children verbalise their thinking skills and explain the strategies they are using is beneficial for all in the room really. Other children listen and (hopefully) build on their understanding too.
1 user has voted.