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Blog: Maths Trumps - What Can I Do With Them?

Blog: Maths Trumps - What Can I Do With Them?

Tarquin's new games, the 6 packs of Maths Trumps, are launched this month. Using games well in education is never easy. But revision and reinforcement are often dull and verging on rote and repetitious. Maths Trumps can be part of the armoury for teachers and parents wanting to get children going with mathematical facts and thinking about the mathematics they learn...without feeling they are.

So in this piece we look at how different user groups can employ Maths Trumps to reach the parts that other games just cannot reach.

1. Children and students of any age

Obviously, for children of 8 and over, playing a game is a natural process. Maths Trumps use the well known principle of trumps card games - competing players in effect "bid" facts to collect cards from other players until they have the whole pack. Paul Hunt's games have brilliantly converted mathematical facts into biddable form, themed around particular types of activitiy. Playing the games will feel natural to children - but also to adult learners, and any adults that play the games with children. 

We think that some of the "disguised" mathematical games in the Darts, Snooker and Connections packs will also be great for learners who are resistant to learning more formally.

2. Parents

Building on the above, parents can pick a topic or topics and get them playing the games to reinforce topics that they are not comfortable with. So Positive and Negative numbers is a topic that is difficult to practice with a child with a mental block on the topic without hitting a brick wall. They don't want to do lots more calculations on a page to practice. Get them playing! 2D Shape and 3D Shape are likewise great focused ways to learn and reinforce key facts. 

But if a parent just wants to get children using their mathematics quickly and with confidence then any of the games would be excellent.

3. Solitaire Version

It could be really useful to get children playing on their own to learn, revise or for fun. Instructions how to play alone are downloadable here.

4. Mathematics Clubs

For older primary and younger secondary students, Maths Trumps packs will be a great addition to the repetoire in a club - fun and easy to play, but as stated above, perfect for developing mathematical fluency and confidence. Bonus questions in each pack are designed to stretch able students and give those keen enough to stretch themselves a faster way to win.

5. In Class - Maths Trumps for Teachers

At first sight, it might be difficult to see how one could use a card game in a class. Here are some thoughts, based on real experience using just one pack of the Positive and Negative card game. 

"1. This was a class of 32 pupils so I organised them into 8 groups of 4 pupils each. (Group A to Group H)
2. Each pupil was given a mini whiteboard and I made it clear that everyone in each group was to take an active part in the game (i.e. they must all attempt the questions). Paper could be used instead of course.
3. I distributed the cards (4 per group) and then asked which group had card number 32 (the highest numbered card in the pack). That group was then asked to choose the first category.
Note: I noticed that pupils were all rather keen to take ownership of their own card, so at this point I had to tell most groups to put their cards back in a pile with just the one card facing at the top.
4. When the first category was chosen, all groups (and importantly, every member of each group) was given around 30 seconds to a minute to do the question from their top card (for that category).
5. I gave a 'Time's Up' announcement after I've allowed the allotted time, and then asked the groups to quickly decide on their final answer.
Note: I also made it clear that any answers that were deemed incorrect in each group should be discussed and corrected. I said that thst this was very much a learning activity and not just a game.
6. I then went through each group, asking for their card number and their answers. I played the role of answer card keeper and checker. Any incorrect answers were briefly discussed. Correct answers were celebrated and then compared to ascertain whose was highest.
7. Once a winner was established, I collected the card in play from each group and handed them to the winning group.
8. We then continued for a second round and then a third.
Note: There was a reluctance in most cases to make use of the bonus question, as pupils didn not want to risk losing the cards that they had just won. In future games (at least with this class) I may include the bonus question as a compulsory aspect of the game, but without the possibility of losing cards already won.
Pupils enjoyed the game very much and I was greeted at the start of the following lesson with 'Can we play Maths Trumps'? I'm now very keen to buy more sets so we have separate mini-games going in the classroom."
Classroom sets can be bought to increase the number of participants - the Tarquin website has savings built into it for multiple purchases of the same packs. 
We know from research and from users that Maths Trumps is a great tool - and great fun if just played for the sake of the game. Get using - you will know you are onto a winner when children greet you with "Can We Play Maths Trumps?" after just one game.
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