Mental Mondays #18

mental and oral maths

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.

Next the children are shown a grid of 16 other numbers. They must now work with a partner, using any operation they like, to make the target number in as many different ways as possible.

After a specific time (say, three minutes) you ask them to stop nad place their mini-whiteboard down.

Now, the children share their calculations and strategies with the rest of the class.


If you wish, you could develop the activity further by adding a scoring system, such as:

1 point for each time they have correctly made the target number

2 points if they have been able to use all four operations

4 points for using fractions, powers or roots


Here's the mathstick twist...

mental and oral number grid

... a visually appealing grid of numbers using a selection of 'real life' numbers. This is a high quality jpg image download, large enough to display on an IWB.


real life number grid for mental and oral challenges

Here's a closer look at part of the grid.

It is a series of 'polaroid' type photographs of real numbers in a  mixture of fonts, colours and styles.


[It's a .jpg download so best to save it by right-clicking and choosing "Save image as..."]













As always, we would look forward to hearing what you think of this in the comments, and would naturally appreciate your likes, tweets and Pluses if you enjoy it!


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 The board makes it a much

 The board makes it a much more interesting prospect rather than just showing the target number. Thanks
1 user has voted.
SamWhatley's picture

Really like the look of this

Really like the look of this starter. Simple but great way to challenge children to use all number operations.  Looking forward to using it!
1 user has voted.

I love this! I am already a

I love this! I am already a big fan of target boards and agree with others, much more interesting to look at! I like the idea that all children are actively working against each other therefore setting their own individual challenges. Think I will do this as a paired activity to start off with.
2 users have voted.

 A very visual stimulus much

 A very visual stimulus much better than the normal number grid.  Thanks
1 user has voted.

I really like this simple yet

I really like this simple yet effective challenge. I will be using this in September possibly as a challenge on my maths board so that the children can submit their answers during the week and I can announce who has scored the most points on a Friday (perhaps for a maths medal).
1 user has voted.
johdu's picture

Yay, I like the idea of a

Yay, I like the idea of a running weekly challenge with the presentation of a Maths Champions Medal as a celebration of the children's skill and enjoyment.

Thank you so much for sharing your idea.

1 user has voted.
harleyted's picture

 This visual is a joy, so

 This visual is a joy, so many children expect to see numbers in a standard font. It has inspired me to look for other resources that are equally visually appealing
1 user has voted.
johdu's picture

Thanks very much for the

Thanks very much for the great feedback.

1 user has voted.
percycat's picture

Great class

Great class looked for other numbers in the environment to photograph and use as a resource
3 users have voted.
johdu's picture

That's good to hear. Thank

That's good to hear. Thank you for the feedback. Always appreciate knowing that the maths lesson ideas and teaching resources here are working well.
1 user has voted.