I always like to give my class a chance to have a play around with number and apply their learning in different ways. There are so many fun ideas kicking about out there and sometimes it’s nice to give children a chance to just explore numbers and how they relate to each other. Here are a few ideas that I’ve put together which I’ve tried with various different classes that I’ve add over the years, ranging from year 1 to year 6. Hopefully some of them will be useful!
Explode a number (or fraction or shape)
With ‘explode a number’, I put a number in the middle of the whiteboard/ page and we annotate with facts about that number. This also works for fractions and shapes as there are lots of facts/ pieces of information to recall and apply.
What could the question be?
This is one of my favourite challenges, and it’s so simple! Similar to exploding a number, I write the number in the middle of the whiteboard/ page and the children then write questions that would have that answer. Here is an example that we did earlier this week:
I find this particularly useful to sometimes give a restriction to, e.g. it must involve adding fractions, it must involve square numbers, etc.
Different ways to represent the number:
I used to do this activity a lot with a class that I had a few years ago, and then remembered it again recently. I give either the whole class or different tables a number and they have to use any maths materials or classroom objects to these numbers. When I did this most recently, I gave different tables the numbers 12, 14, 16 and 18. Here are some of the ways they created those numbers: I used to do this activity a lot with a class that I had a few years ago, and then remembered it again recently. I give either the whole class or different tables a number and they have to use any maths materials or classroom objects to these numbers. When I did this most recently, I gave different tables the numbers 12, 14, 16 and 18. Here are some of the ways they created those numbers:
This is an old favourite! Can you make the target number using four numbers fours? e.g. for the number 15 you could do 4 x 4 – (4 divided by 4).
I start with a number…
I particularly like this activity as it makes children think carefully about the inverse operations. I would give the class a number, such as 15, and they would then create their own question like this:
I start with a number. I multiply it by 5, then subtract 8. I then divide it by 2 and finally add 4. I end up with 15. What number did I start with?
I started off with creating some of these for my last year, and then realised that they could definitely write their own! For example, I might have this riddle for the number 49: I am a square number. My tens digit is even and my ones digit is odd. My digits add up to 13.
I’ve seen lots of different variations on this, and I like to change around the categories, e.g. to find 25% or to write in Roman numerals, etc.
I like to do this by adding a unit (e.g. making the number £15) and having children write word problems that match that answer.
Can you make this number?
In a Countdown manner, you could give your target number and a selection of other numbers and task the children to create that number. e.g. target number: 20
5 2 3 7 1
Odd one out
Another old favourite here! You could give children a set of 3 or 4 different numbers and task them with finding as many ways as possible that one of the numbers could be the odd one out, e.g. the only odd number, the only number with the tens digit smaller than the ones digit, etc.
One activity I’ve used a few times is to give a number (e.g. 5) and challenge them to find as many sets of numbers as possible that have a mean of that number, e.g. 3, 4, 8 or 11, 5, 2, 2