Age Range: 7 - 11
By: Mr Harvey McCarthey

This activity is based on the popular Countdown T.V. programme.

1. Ask children to give 4 numbers between 1 - 10

2. Ask for a multiple of 10 between 10 -100

3. Ask for a multiple of 25 between 25 - 100

4. Give the children a random(ish) number that they must use the other numbers and the four number operations to find

5. Differentiate by asking low ability to be within 100, mid within 50 and high within 10, of the target number

6. Differentiate by giving each ability group a different number to find (making the lower ability easier).

Chris Siouville has contributed another explanation for this game...

I play 'countdown' style games for Maths mental starters. This can also be done as whole class or group work.

First write a 'total' number & conceal it (or write it once the other numbers are selected). Just like the TV programme, children select numbers from a pile of 'large' or 'small' numbers (a mix of big and small works best). The numbers to put in each pile can be selected according to ability, as can the number of cards chosen each round (suggested 6 max).

The selected numbers are displayed and the children are then given a time limit in which to try to use the selected numbers to reach the total selected by you. They can add the numbers together, multiply etc. They do not have to use every number but cannot use each displayed number more than once. Individuals or teams get (for example) 3 points if they get the exact answer (saying how they worked it out), 2 if they are within 3 of the total etc. I also do a literacy version where children have to make the longest word from letters and anagrams.


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Emma Smith

This worked it also helped the children with their times tables.