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Number board magic

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By John Dabellteacher, writer and Ofsted-trained inspector

Squeeze every last bit of learning out of simple number boards with these mathematics investigations for KS2 children

Crystal ball

Number boards are puzzles that are full of maths magic, if you know where to look and know what questions to ask.

Using number boards

Take a look at the number boards on the Activity sheet, ‘Number boards’ and think of ‘I spy’ questions you could ask children about them. Board 1 contains a top row of the numbers 1, 3, 5 and 7, and a bottom row with numbers 9, 11, 13, 15. Can you see any square numbers? (1 and 4) Or prime numbers less than 7? (3 and 5)

You could ask children to use the numbers differently and add all the numbers in the top row and subtract these from total of the numbers in the bottom row (48 – 16 = 32). Alternatively, ask children to combine all the numbers in the top row to make any one number in the bottom row using the four operations – for example, 5 × 3 = 15, 15 – 7 = 8, 8 + 1 = 9.

Another idea to try would be to make a target number using all the numbers in the board. Can you make 100 using all the numbers on the board? (15 × 5 = 75, 11 + 9 = 20, 75 + 20 = 95. 13 – 7 = 6, 6 –1 = 5. 95 + 5 = 100).

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