Bendy Straws


Very cheap resources that can be used when embedding mathematical ideas are bendy straws; you can see a few examples below.


Instead of using matchsticks you can cut the straws where they bend making a straight length, this makes the normal matchstick puzzles bigger, colourful and, if needed, you can incorporate colours and change the pieces to add further depth and strategies.


Make 2D and 3D shapes. The short bendy section can be folded along its length making it smaller so it can be inserted into the longest section of another straw, you can also ask questions such as; ‘ what shape can we make using  1,2,3,4 straws and so on?’


Follow the link to show how you can make these 3D shapes which can be made even more exciting when using them to make bubble shapes.


If you cut some straws at different lengths, you can see how many different types of triangles can be made, (a handy tip is to use 4 colours, each colour to be the same length for example all red to be the same. Then a record of the findings can be made and questions asked to establish if there is a pattern?


Get one straw (with bendy section cut off) and see without bending how many triangles can be made? Try with 2, 3,4,5 and so on don’t forget to record the data. Is there a pattern?


There are many other puzzles online. I’m going to be playing with one on the Enrich website


I welcome any thoughts and ideas so please comment on the blog.







No Money

Being a fan of Star Trek, I have always wondered how can
society function in a time where there is no currency?

The key to productivity is our ability to barter, from
livestock to money. Money gives a number of us the incentive to work, it also
stops unfair trade as it’s a uniform way of agreeing payment.

Without money who would live in the big country house? Would we all travel in the same make of car? The
world might move slower, but is that a bad thing?

Regardless to the above, money is very important in today’s
society and it’s important for children to learn the value. For instance; give a child £5 and ask
them what would they like to do with it? Give them £10 then see what they say?
Children and some adults find it a complex concept.

I have found the best way is to just play. We all make our
own discoveries but only if we are interested. I have listed some ideas below:

Have five piles with different amounts of money, the
challenge is to take the pile with the greatest value without counting!


Work out how much change you can get from £5 after buying
sweets, a toy, a laptop!

Give pocket money for doing chores and get them to put some
into the bank!


There are many online games involving money


Have fun!






Numeracy Workshops.

Numeracy workshops

Since Marvellous Magical Maths (M³) started with the
mathematical thinking show/ workshop for pre-school and primary, it’s been a great success and I have enjoyed visiting schools around the country.


The aim is to support the learning in schools, helping to
improve grades and give maths a fresh outlook. I hope to increase enthusiasm and change the culture of not liking this subject.


From September M³

will also offer a numeracy workshop for KS2.
As normal I will be at schools for the whole day running four one hour sessions.
Everyone in the groups will get to have fun with numbers and their operations.


Like the Mathematical thinking workshops, each learner will
use what I believe to be the three most important tools in maths: Conversation, Imagination and Patterns. Using
these they will be able to identify and use numbers more confidently creating
their own tools.


The Link below is a report from the BBC regarding changes to
the curriculum.


Maths will expect more at an earlier age. There will be a requirement
for pupils to learn their 12 times table by the age of nine. Basic fractions,
such as half or a quarter, will be taught to five year olds.


"The big challenge is equip all young people with the basic numeracy they need before the GCSE syllabus starts," CBI's Neil Carberry


You can find out more about the numeracy workshops on my web page.


Thank you for reading.






Zin Obelisk

Obelisk Bath
Obelisk Bath

Please find attached a link from the nrich website for an activity called Zin Obelisk.


Zin Obelisk was introduced to me by John Hibbs at an ATM conference.


Aim: Collaborative working


It is a communication puzzle, made up of 29 cards and each card has a piece of information that is required to complete the challenge. Once the cards are shared out players are not allowed to show the cards to each other but can tell the others what is written on them.


This is very strong as it is a group activity that relies upon everyone taking part. It also requires recording data and the use of maths. I would allow the group to work this out individually, just make sure that they don’t show each other the cards that they hold to the other players. The best way to host this is to set three pairs working on one challenge with the cards shared between them.


As an extension, once they get the idea how to play, they can start creating their own!


You can also buy a book filled with template cards to photocopy cut and play from the ATM






A simple game!

Snake and Ladders
Snake and Ladders

As part of a visit I do with schools I have a fifteen minute workshop with the parents at the end of the day. In one of these sessions a parent expressed concern that their child was finding working with numbers hard.

My answer was to play snakes and ladders once a week; if the child enjoys it and you have time twice. Based on an ancient Hindu game that aimed at teaching about the hurdles in life and fate, this game is also mathematical and exciting to play. This game has numbers 1 to 100 and, as children build confidence playing you can change the rules, some examples are below.


Both players have a dice each, the one who rolls the highest/lowest moves!


Roll both dice, you can only move if they add up to an odd/even number.


If you land on a prime, square, cube, odd, even, starting with 1/2/3 and so on, you can move forward 7 places.


Start at 100 and work backwards.


It is hard for anyone to learn when asked to recite numbers, the best way is just to play with them and before you know they start to see a pattern! Patience is important here as sometimes it takes a while and by rushing they will feel pressure.

Always ask questions, for example if they have never seen this game ask “how do you think we play this?” or if they have played it ask “what would you change?” “How long will the game take?” for a more advanced question “What is the least amount of throws you would need to finish” “what if you could only move 5 squares at a time?”

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. Please share any other ideas you have to play this game, or thoughts about this blog.

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English and maths 'to be taught up to 18


This is great that the government are doing something to improve English and Maths, but I think it should be tackled when children are younger!

The compulsory age for education will rise to 18 in 2015, which is great due to the fact we are living longer. I believe, this extra time should be used to get young adults ready for the real world, teaching them independent skills if they are not going on to A levels or an apprenticeship. Students that have difficulties with the foundation skills should in my option be helped sooner,even if this means taken them out of other subjects or staying back for after school lessons, funded with the money that the government would use for the above subject. But then it’s for me to easy, I’m not a teacher so don’t see the everyday, I work alongside teachers showing them resources they can use and breaking down the barriers, making Maths Marvellous!

I welcome your point of view, even if it is just devil’s advocate!






First School as a M³ man

Set up!
Set up!

What an amazing day! Yesterday was full on rehearsing, checking stock and equipment and creating a feedback form.

I arrived at the school at 8am on the 27th June to a warm welcome.  I then I set up for the day  (picture above).

The day was incredable, starting with a 15 minute assembly followed be year 3 and 4. I was told that the teachers were surprised at the answers some of the children gave.

Reception next and for the first time 'Count Vone Me' came out - everyone loved it! At one point I made a square from balloons and asked what to you see? I got some very funny interpretations! 

In the staff room for lunch, everyone made me welcome.

Next was years 1 and 2, so much fun and learning was had I over ran by almost 10 minutes.

Last group was years 5 and 6. All I can say they took what I had for them and ran with it, really impressed, the only thing I could have changed was to split the groups to enrich their mathamatical experiences.

As I was leaving I passed a projecter showing pictures on a white board of the wonderful day, so I asked if I could get some images that I could use for this web site,  kindly they said yes so I will post then as soon as I get them.






Brand and Costume!

Sam has sent me the first draft copy for cards and banners and it's looking amazing. The costume is the biggest sticking point. I bought some green dye and a white shirt mixed them together and was very pleased with the results.

I also have some purple fabric I need to get made into a waist coat and jacket.

Tomorrow I need to work out size of banner and cover for my spider frame, the show, which I have been working on mostly, is really starting to take form.







Marvellous Magical Maths is Born

Wow what a week so far! I have left Bubblz Maths to start my own company, making maths fun!

I haven't started from scratch as I have been a Bubblz Maths Clown for the last 2 years and learnt so much thanks to Caroline and her team.

Having said that I do need to start a business again, which is great fun.

I love seeing the discovery moment in children's and adult's faces alike and success for me is being part of that process.

So what have I done so far? I have designed my logo and brand, worked out some of the new ideas I'm going to do in the show/workshops, and started a web site. Still working on a colourful outfit, Louise has come up with a great idea with meter sticks. Let the mathamatical journey begin................




Birthday Maths!

It’s the anniversary of the day that I was conceived, and to celebrate my sell by date I have chosen to write a maths blog once a month.

Today I’m older than I was yesterday, in fact the more I try and avoid saying my age, the more I look at different ways to say it and in doing so I have come up with some great maths ideas!

So today I’m a multiple of 21, factor would sound so much better! Could I use factor?

How many leap years have I seen? What if I could, instead of dates, measure my age in using something else and then convert it.

Let’s start with centimetres; I could convert them into inches as I get older! I could start using millimetres, what would the difference be from kilometres to miles? Would it be different if I used weight, temperature or maybe I could count how many leap years, prime numbers, odds and evens I have had?

In fact when I go to schools, a child’s age is the most important number. It’s only when they reach this digit, that they are showered with gifts, cards and badges displaying a big numerical symbol. Family and friends celebrate and he/she becomes centre of attention, people sing and they get a big cake with candles. In fact age is so important that some children, when I ask them to find the tallest and shortest they get confused with how old they are!

Happy Birthday to Henri Poincaré who shares my birthday, born in 1854 he is 117 years older than me! He was a French mathematician, theoretical physicist, engineer, and a philosopher of science. (photo above)

Thank you for reading my Blog, the aim is to put one out every 29th of the month.

Birthday Maths!

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