Making Maths Magical at school!


In my previous article, I introduced the idea of a discovery corner and a treasure box. Helpful tools to engage students and reward those that complete their work early. Here I suggest a fun filled activity that involves the family- a Math evening. Family maths evening Firstly, leave out the word Math when you announce about the evening, this will result in more attendance.

Once the parents and the children arrive, they are willing to tackle whatever you throw at them. Develop a fun worksheet that involves lateral thinking brainteasers, fun problems, word problems, mazes, riddles, etc and invite families to join the school for an evening of fun and entertainment. Families arrive with picnic baskets and they are generally asked to bring something to write with and the school can provide paper to write on. The families are allowed to work with each other and they are also allowed to trade answers.

After about one hour, you then go through all the answers so that the families leave the evening with knowledge. If you create fun worksheets then many of the questions will lead to fits of laughter. At the end of the evening you can present prizes to a few people – not for getting everything correct but rather for having fun or smiling the most. The prizes do not have to be expensive. We have found that small candies and chocolates are well received. Now the format of this evening can be varied! You can move towards a digital option as well. Making use of free website like Kahoot. com allows you to create a fun quiz and the families then use their devices (tablets, phones or laptops) to answer the questions. The advantage of using Kahoot is that it lists the top five teams after each round. It has the exciting quiz music you need to add tension to the excitement. You can also load videos or picture questions and the students adore this method.

Of course if all the audience members do not have access to the internet then you can adapt the game like we do in South Africa and the teams have four coloured sheets with their team name on it. When the question is loaded on the big screen, the teams send a runner up to the front with their answer. Points are awarded for a correct answer. Kahoot has several million quizzes all available free of charge. You can of course create your own too. I love offering two problems to think about each edition. These are examples of questions we have asked at a family maths evening.

Junior level:

This is an unusual paragraph. I’m curious how quickly you can find out what is so unusual about it? It looks so plain you would think nothing was wrong with it! In fact, nothing is wrong with it! It is unusual though. Study it, and think about it, but you still may not find anything odd. But if you work at it a bit, you might find out! Try to do so without any coaching!

Senior level:

Captain Frank and some of the boys were exchanging old war stories. Art Bragg offered one about how his grandfather led a battalion against a German division during World War I. Through brilliant manoeuvres he defeated them and captured valuable territory. A week after the battle he was presented with a sword bearing the inscription “To Captain Bragg for Bravery, Daring and leadership, World War I, From the Men of Battalion 8.” Captain Frank looked at Art and said, “You really don’t expect anyone to believe that yarn, do you?”

What’s wrong with the story? Solutions: Junior: There is no letter e! Senior: They could never write World War 1 on the sword because they did not know there was going to be a World War 2!