Tuesday, 20 February 2018
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Autumn 2017

The countdown is on to the biggest maths festival in the world, Maths Week Ireland, which takes place from October 14-22.

The Maths Week team are working with schools, colleges,museums, universities and communities throughout Northern Ireland to help deliver an exciting programme of events. Thousands of students
from schools and colleges will enjoy mathematical activities designed to make maths fun.

Multi-talented maths educators and presenters will perform magic, card tricks, and amazing mathematical predictions to fascinate and educate young people about maths. The week seeks to promote a positive image of maths, highlighting its importance in everyday life.
There will be lots of events taking place across Northern Ireland. Maths Week 2017 partners include W5, Ulster University, Queen’s University, Stranmillis University College, North West Regional College and Armagh Planetarium. Parents, schools, teachers, children and everyone can get involved with Maths Week! Maths is important for everyone and you can get involved this year with these fun maths activities! For more information events and activities see mathsweek.ie.


Children need a positive attitude to maths if they are to succeed. Mathematical ability is not a gene, everybody can do it. As a parent you can do a lot to build your child’s confidence and help your child at maths.

1.Be positive about maths. Children need a positive attitude to maths if they are to succeed. Never say ‘I wasn’t any good at maths’ or ‘I can’t do maths’ – your child will believe then that’s it ok not to be good at maths and it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy! Like anything worthwhile you have to work at it.

2.Be encouraging but don’t stress them out – remember your child is on a journey. It takes time to complete the journey; they don’t have to finish the journey today or tomorrow. Encourage your child to think about how they might solve a problem. Once they have solved the problem, ask them to see if they can find another way to solve it. This encourages children to problem solve. It is always worthwhile to have puzzles and stimulating activities on hand for when your child gets bored.

3.Make sure you child knows that it is ok to make a mistake. We often learn more from making a mistake than from getting the answer correct first time. Research suggests that the brain actually grows when a mistake is made. Encourage your child to see where the mistake is made and correct it. Be patient and consistent.

4.It is important that your child understands what they are learning. There is no point in a child learning something by heart, if they don’t understand the concept. Making it visual can often help this – for example division can be shown by cutting a pizza, or addition can be shown by adding different pieces of fruit. It is also important that a child understands that 2 x 9 = 18, is the same as 9 x 2 = 18.

5. Involve your child in simple maths in daily life. It is important for children to see that maths isn’t just something you do in school, but that is all around us. For example how long does it take to get to school? How many roads do you cross? How long does it take to bake the cake?  If you are going on a journey, how far is the journey and how long will it take? If you child plays computer games for 10 minutes a day, how long will they play the computer game over the week?

6.It is important not to emphasise speed. It is important that your child gets the right answer and not how long it took them to get there. Completing a task under time pressure can cause anxiety in your child and may develop a negative attitude towards maths in them. 

7. Make maths fun play maths games with your children (see below for ideas). Playing games with children can help them develop problem solving and logical thinking skills. This will help them in their mathematical journey. There are also plenty of maths games on the internet, but it is important that you gauge the right level for your child  (some suggestions below).

8.Some topics may be taught differently now. If so make sure you don’t confuse your child with the “old” way.

9. If your child is having trouble with any aspect of maths speak to your child’s teacher.

10.Be familiar with your child’s curriculum. Your child’s teacher may also be able to explain the curriculum to you and also any new teaching methods.

Useful websites and resources for parents:

Travel Games:Card Number Plate Bingo

Bingo cards can be prepared before a journey and the caller can pick the last number on number plates of passing cars. For a simpler game without preparation the “caller” can decide what to look for: spot all the number plates ending with odd number/even numbers, spot silver cars with number plates that end in two odd numbers. There are endless possibilities.

Shopping Games:

A shopping trip is a great way to get your child interested in numbers. Before you go, get your child to make a shopping list. It is also a good idea to get children to estimate the price of each item before you leave home, again it encourages the child to think and to understand costs.

As you and your child(ren) go shopping depending on their age you can:
•encourage him/her to read the prices of different brands on the shelf and perhaps to write these prices on paper
•talk to your child about his/her estimate and the actual prices – this will open your child’s eyes to actual prices
•get your child to assess the best value for money when choosing an item looking at the discounts and offers available. This may involve multiplication or division. Sometimes children will discover that the offers are actually deceiving
•get him/her to calculate prices of a number of items together, for example, how much money is spent on vegetables/fruit/frozen food/meat/confectionary
•speak to your child about the trip and what you could do differently on the next trip to save money – perhaps you have to pay for parking or the bus.

Kitchen Games:

There are an endless number of maths games you can play in the kitchen.
Pizza Fractions is fun and allows children to eat something nice and yummy while discussing fractions.Have a pizza night. Take away or home made both work!

•Discuss how many slices a pizza is divided up into.
•What fraction is each slice?
•How many people are eating the pizza?
•How many slices will each person get? What fraction of the overall pizza will this be?
•Perhaps someone is very hungry and someone else is not so hungry – what fraction will you give each person if appetites vary?

Other fun kitchen games include:
•Adding: Calculating the price of ingredients to make an apple pie?
•Time: How long does it take to make a cake? Preparation time and cooking time?
•Measuring Capacity: How many teaspoons in a cup, how many cups in a jug and so on.

Card Games:SUM FUN with Cards

•Deal equal numbers of cards to all players (players can’t look at their cards)
•Players turn over the top two cards in their pile and add up the value of the two cards. (picture cards have the following values – J = 11, Q = 12, K= 13)
•The player with the highest sum wins the cards. In the event of a tie then the cards are split between tied players.
•When all the original cards are used then the player who has won most cards is the winner

Other fun family card games that improve mathematical thinking include: Crazy 8, Go Fish, Snap, Memory and Old Maid.

Did you know?

An adult’s heart beats at an average rate of 72 beats per minute. In one year this would add up to 37 million heartbeats. It’s a good idea to take good care of your heart since it works so hard.

There are 35g of sugar in one can of many brands of fizzy drinks. If you drank one can each day for a year you would consume over 12 kg of sugar from this. So drink water instead when you are thirsty!

The population of the Earth is estimated to be around 7.5 billion people

The distance around the Earth’s equator is approximately 40,000 kilometres

The distance from Earth to the Moon is around 384,400 kilometres

The distance from Earth to the Sun is almost 150 million kilometres

The new pound coin is 2.8mm thick and the maximum diameter is 23.43mm. If you stacked a million new pound coins on top of each other they would reach 2.8 kilometres (1.75 miles) into the air. If you had a billion pound coins they would make a stack 2,800 kilometres high. End to end a million new pound coins would stretch from Belfast to Bangor!

How do we write big numbers?

1 hundred 100
1 thousand 1,000
10 thousand 10,000
100 thousand 100,000
1 million 1,000,000 (6 zeros)
1 billion 1000,000,000 (9 zeros)
1 trillion 1000,000,000,000 (12 zeros)

For more see www.mathsweek.ie/activities

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