Tag Archives: maths

But HOW do I make iPads about learning, not games?


At the start of my career, I was a self-confessed worksheet girl. I photocopied every morning and every afternoon, had folders for each day with all the worksheets I would need, complete with binders of resources that I’d collected from multiple teaching placements. I probably killed a few million trees…sorry trees.

Since I was introduced to iPads in the classroom, or for that matter any digital technology, my printing and photocopying has decreased.



But how do I teach maths now? What do I get my students to do instead of worksheets? If we don’t glue a worksheet in their book, or upload it onto a digital portfolio, how will parents know they’ve learned anything and how will we as teachers, assess them?

It’s simple:

  • teach them how to use the technology using simple instructions.
  • focus on creation apps, rather than consumption apps – make the students think!
  • give them time to explore (not ‘play’, explore) what the app can do.

To get you started, I’ve created 4 different task cards which can be used for whole class or small group work in maths. They are based around students creating and applying their knowledge, with a focus on sharing their work with their class and teacher, through taking screenshots, sharing on the big screen, or adding to a collaborative Google Slide. You can download them for free here.

Friends of Ten!


Tonight with my Year 1 tutoring student, we worked on our Tens Facts. Again. It feels like we are ALWAYS working on our Tens Facts…because they don’t seem to sink in!

We’ve played:

Ten Pairs – deal out a 4×5 array of playing cards, keep dealing until all cards are gone. Players take turns to pick up 2 cards that add to ten.

Concentration – similar to Ten Pairs, but cards are turned over to remember where cards are.

Roll to Ten (colour) – roll a die, colour in that many squares on a tens frame using one colour…then count on to get to ten. Colour the squares that you ‘counted on’ using a different colour, then write the equation.

10s frame

Roll to Ten (build) – roll a die, build a tower using blocks that many blocks high of one colour…then count on to get to ten using a different colour block. Write the equation.

10 Frame Fill (app: free) – helpful for creating an interactive visual for ‘How many more to make 10’ and focusing on 10s facts.

While all of these ideas were good, there was no urgency to build on the accuracy and fluency of these skills, so she was dawdling her way through our activities.

So, today we drew a Tens Rainbow, to use in conjunction with a fabulous app I found, called ‘Make Ten‘. It asks students to choose the number you need to add to the number given to get to 10. My student propped this rainbow up in front of her to use with the app and by the 4th or 5th round, she was actually recalling the facts herself to try and beat her high score and going faster.


Technology isn’t always the answer, or the be-all-and-end-all, but if you’re aiming for speed/fluency – this really helped today!

I also found this Pinterest board for some more ideas – always looking for more!

I would love to hear your ideas for Friends of Ten!

Bridging to ten for times tables


Making 7

Are there any tricks to learning the 7 times tables? They were my most hated as a child and are the times tables that my two Year 5 tutoring students find the most difficult. There is no repeated number pattern in the ‘ones’ column, until you reach 7×11 (7, 14, 21, 28, 35, 42, 49, 56, 73, 70, 77) – making it such a difficult pattern to remember that it’s pointless.

It seems that the most difficult part of the seven times tables is crossing into the next decade, going from the numbers in the twenties, to the numbers in the thirties, all while repeatedly adding 7. The girls are confident at adding numbers 1-10 to a number ending in a zero, so I needed to help them extend this skill into their times tables.

So today, I asked the two girls “Give me two numbers that equal 7”.

They came up with the 3 combinations that you would find on two dice:

1+6, 2+5 & 3+4

And then we skip counted by 7, breaking up the 7 into two components if we needed.

Like so:

7 + (3+4) : First, add the 3 to bridge to ten. Then, simply add 10+4.

14 + (6+1): Choose the number that will bridge to the next ten; in this case, 6. Then, add 20+1.

21 + 7. The girls knew what 1+7 was, so this was easy as we didn’t need to bridge to ten.

28 + (2+5). I began to ask the girls, “How many to get to the ten? What do we have left to add?”

As I explained to the girls’ mother afterwards, bridging to ten is such an important part of basic addition, but sometimes we forget that it still applies for repeated addition, that being multiplication.

I’m planning on using the same strategy to help the girls work on their 6 and 8 times tables, as they’re the only tables we are yet to master. Unless there’s some other easy tricks for those tables?

Technology for relief teachers.


Today was my first day of relief teaching in the school that I’m not actually working part-time at this year. So, I was not connected to the school wifi, or have log in details or anything. For someone who loves integrating technology into lessons in any way possible, I was slightly ‘meh’ about my day in Year 6.

Regardless of this, I had packed my iPad in my handbag. What was I planning to do with it? No idea! But I was determined. I pulled out my folder of ‘Break’ apps, courtesy of @DaleSidebottom. I had ClassBreak, MathBreak, TeacherShake, QuizBreak, BrainBrea, ScienceBreak & LiteracyBreak. All of these can be purchased from the iTunes App Store, search: The Ultimate Teachers App Pack.

But which ones could be used without an internet connection?

  • LiteracyBreak – a great range of Introduction Games, Nursery Rhymes, Brainteasers, Debating Topics, Writing Games, Bus Activities (think: school camp and long excursions!), Group Games and a section for ideas on Organising Groups.
  • ScienceBreak – all sections except Science Videos (links to Youtube videos) will work offline. Great ideas for lesson starters, simple low-prep experiments, fun facts…and the list goes on!
  • ClassBreak – a plethora of activities and games: icebreakers, PE, team building and time filler! Subject games & classroom activities, riddles, jokes, quotes of the day, brain gym & a true and false guessing game.
  • MathBreak – this was my go-to app for the day and my favourite section was the riddles! Most of them were maths-related, but some were just good old fashioned logic thinking! This app also features a list of dice games and times table tricks.

Anything else? Well, I asked another teacher if there was a CRT log-in for the Interactive Whiteboard & classroom computer, and there was. (Always pays to ask!) Right – logged in and ready to go!

This was perfect, as I had 7 statements for the students to write out in their books and then decide if they agree or disagree with them…and then the good old discuss and compare, most popular responses etc. Perfect to do as a Kahoot survey! (You don’t have a free Kahoot account? Why not?!)

So, at the beginning of lunch, I whipped up a Kahoot survey (it took all of 4 minutes) and once the students had done the required work of writing the questions down, they decided on their answers – survey style. It was a great way of gaining a whole class snapshot of their beliefs & opinions and provided a healthy discussion board for us to chat about.

Aaaaand, just because I love inspiring students with clips from Youtube, this clip tied in really well with the topic of our afternoon lesson – serving others.

So never fear, relief teachers can use technology successfully! Anything else to add to my list?

4 Apps for creating…3 different ways!


Often iPad apps are seen as a quick fix to boredom – used to entertain, with minimal thinking involved. Here are 4 free apps to use in the classroom, for students to create, rather than to consume!

Number pieces – free

  • Using number lines as a basic counting tool in Numeracy, and annotate to show different numbers on the line.
  • Making numbers to 100 using the Base 10 blocks.
  • Forming a variety of numbers and annotating their extended notation. This could be photographed and added into Educreations, to include students voice to explain their thinking.

ChatterPix Kids – free

  • Counting to 10. Students can take a photo of themselves, add a mouth and record their verbal counting.
  • Role-playing. Students can record their thoughts on what to say in certain situations they may encounter in the classroom or in the playground.
  • Oral presentations. Students can record their thoughts on paper and then read them aloud while recording their own voice.

Make Beliefs Comix – free

  • Inserting characters to use as a basic storytelling tool.
  • Using the characters to add speech bubbles and create dialogue between 2 or more characters.
  • Create a comic which includes dialogue, and follow it up with a lesson on talking marks when writing.

PicCollage – free

  • Learning a specific sound/blend. Students take photos of objects around their classroom that begin with that sound/blend. They can add text, or a title of the letter they are working on.
  • Writing descriptions. Students can photograph an object, and add text to add adjectives around the photo.
  • Modelling behaviours during Literacy – how to Read to Self. Students can take photos of their partner reading and annotate with text to identify the correct behaviours to show during this time.

(These ideas were designed with F-2 classes in mind, but can easily be adapted for higher year levels.)

Recent ‘gems’ from the App Store


I thought I’d share with you a few of my most recent valuable iPad downloads from the App Store. Some of them I found through apps like AppOfTheDay and AppsGoneFree, whereas others were in the featured section of iTunes.

ABC Spy HD – free

A fantastic introduction to the alphabet for students which integrates with the world around them. Students are to scroll through the alphabet and take a photo of something beginning with each letter. They can choose a frame for their photo, add the word using text if they like and email and print the book when they are finished. Taking photos of classmates who have names starting with letters is a good way to start the letter-sound relationship and the fact that it can be made into a concrete material is fabulous!

Curious Ruler – free for a limited time

This app would be a fantastic resource for the maths classroom, especially when measuring using formal and informal units. By taking a photo of an object in the classroom, students can choose an informal unit to measure it with – compare the object’s length to the Australian $1 coin, a soccer ball, or a DVD. Changing the units means that you can view the results in centimetres or inches and encourage students to check that it’s correct using hands-on materials!

Dreamtime – free

This iBook-style app features a variety of Dreamtime stories written, illustrated and animated by students at Healesville High School. It offers an audio feature, so the story can be read aloud, or students can read it themselves. By touching individual words, they are read aloud for a full, authentic reading experience. For anybody who is teaching Indigenous culture and would like to focus on the history of story-telling, this app is a great find! 

K12 Timed Reading Practice Lite – free (Full version – $2.49)

If fluency and comprehension are a focus in your class, this app offers an easy assessment method. By entering a student’s name, you are able to ask students to read a passage as the app times how long it takes and calculates a words per minute score. At the end of each passage there are 3 comprehension questions for the reader to answer, highlighting correct and incorrect answers. While this version is free, it offers a range of passages to choose from without limiting you too much.

K12 Equivalence Tiles – free

Another app by K12 Inc., this app allows you to manipulate values in fraction, decimal and percentage format, to show the comparison between them and highlight the equivalence. With each different value colour-coded, it makes it easy to see the similarities and differences between the 3 types of figures. While there isn’t any option to export the chart, taking a screenshot of it and importing it into another app like Explain Everything or Educreations would allow students to explain and rationalise their mathematical thinking.


Although this is just a snapshot of what I’ve recently downloaded, I hope they’ve been helpful!


The curriculum isn’t crowded…it’s brimming with opportunity!

I’ve been concerned with the number of educators who are constantly reminding others of how ‘crowded’ the curriculum is. Many of them are voicing their concerns a little louder now that the National Curriculum has begun to be implemented, while others are relating it to the fact that there are only a certain number of hours in a school day.
It frustrates me to hear that many staff believe that the curriculum is “too full”. Rather than looking at the curriculum as “too full”, why are we not looking at it as “brimming with opportunities and variety”? We know that students all have different learning styles and interests. It would be narrow-minded of educators to believe that every single aspect of the curriculum is applicable and important for every single student.
My Year 4 History curriculum tells me that I should be covering world explorers such as Magellan, Columbus and Cook. Science tells me that I need to be teaching the life cycles of plants and animals. The new Geography syllabus instructs me to teach biomes of Africa and South America and the sustainability aspects of these. 
I didn’t freak out when I saw the requirements. I used my time wisely. I created a series of learning opportunities to try and cover all of the material in the most sensible manner, using a range of subject areas. Students worked in pairs to research (literacy & ICT focus) an African or South American country, including their biomes (geography) and the plants (science) that live in them. This led into life cycles and descriptions and information reports (literacy) on an African animal of their choice. They summarised information (literacy) about plant life cycles and presented their information as a slideshow (ICT). Students proved that there was more than one explorer in the world, which led to discussions on Columbus, Magellan, Marco Polo, Vikings, Matthew Flinders and Captain Cook. Some students focused on the vikings, others were interested in finding out who discovered their country of origin. We used these explorers to develop a timeline (maths) of important dates of world discovery. By communicating with our visual arts teacher, the Year 4’s created South American “God’s eye” art and African masks.
Many educators refer to these types of lessons as “Integrated Studies”. That’s fine, as long as it is not a scheduled timeslot to “do” Integrated Studies. If it’s truly integrated, it will be seeping through most of your lessons and immersing students in valuable learning opportunities. It’s not about choosing the most important aspects of the curriculum. It’s about providing students with the opportunity to learn about things that interest them, yet are important to understand.

iPads + Maths for lower primary


I was asked this week for some junior primary Maths games for the iPad. Games to help consolidate learning, rapid recall and mental strategies. I trawled though the multitude of apps I have on my iPad and this is what I found:

Tens Frame ($1.99) – perfect for small group work, with many uses (addition, subtraction, subitising).

Dragon Math (free version) – basic addition memory match with a dragon-egg theme. Multi-player options, difficulty levels and different mathematical operations are available to be unlocked/purchased, but the simple addition is a fantastic start!

Super 7 HD – join the numbers that add up to 7. Begins simple, gets harder the higher you progress.

Math Bingo ($0.99) – a basic bingo game which allows you to select the mathematical operation and number of players. Of course it features catchy music and sound effects. Get 5 numbers in a row to win the game! Focuses on rapid recall.

Number pieces – interactive MAB blocks. Perfect for making numbers when you don’t have the physical blocks, but with the added function of writing/drawing annotations on or around them. No substitute for real MAB blocks, but a decent effort.

Addimals – funky jungle animals who talk through simple addition problems. It features a number line and various strategies for the user to select such as ‘count all’, ‘count on’, ‘doubles’, ‘tens’ or ‘memory’.

By no means are these a substitute for a core maths lesson, but can often provide some time to consolidate basic maths concepts.

Feel free to share any great apps that you use with a maths focus!