Category Archives: Mathematics

Practise Times Tables – no paper needed!

When we think of practising  times tables, we often think of chanting in unison or working through endless pages of multiplication problems. But is this the best way to teach the times tables?
Fun Games and Activities for Teaching Times Tables - Brilliant Publications

Fun Games and Activities for Teaching Times Tables

In fact, drilling children in their times tables doesn’t necessarily help them to understand the mathematical concepts that underpin multiplication. Children need to be able to conceptualise the maths involved if they are to develop fluency in the times tables, able to recall and apply them rapidly and accurately.

This is why we decided to publish Fun Games and Activities for Teaching Times Tables. This book takes an active approach to learning times tables, providing stimulating and imaginative games to make the process of learning the times tables both effective and fun.
The first half of the book contains games specifically aimed at teaching the 2, 5 and 10 times tables.The second half contains games appropriate for any of the times tables. These games are subdivided into three groups:

  • Games for learning each table in sequence
  • Games to test pupils’ memories and thinking skills as they try to identify the table they are working on
  • Games to teach children the different factors that can make up each answer.

The games require minimal preparation and ensure that all children gain a firm understanding of their times tables and will be able to recall them quickly and easily.

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Filed under Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2, Mathematics

New maths catalogue

Our new maths catalogue is now available! Click here to download a copy!

We are especially proud of our new Mighty Fun Activities for Practising Times Tables, featuring Mighty Hypersonic Heather, Twirling Tornado Tony and many other superheroes!

These superheroes all share one mission – to make practising times tables fun!

Brilliant Publications maths catalogue 2017





Unfortunately, our mighty superheroes have a problem! Super villain Dennis the Demon Digit Demolisher has an evil plan to rid the world of numbers … .  Can your pupils solve the problems in time to stop him sabotaging the Trans-galaxy Superhero Games?

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What makes Brilliant Publications’ books … ‘brilliant’?

Well, we could give you some synonyms (many of which are in our online reviews): exceptionally clever or talented, inventive, creative, outstanding, impressive, remarkable, exceptional, glorious, superb, excellent, first-rate …

But we thought it might be more helpful if we gave you four reasons:

We provide support

All our authors have teaching backgrounds. In fact, the majority are still full-time teachers. This means that they know what works in the classroom. All the ideas have been tried and tested, so you know that they will be relevant and will help children to learn.

9781783170913 Teach French with Luc et Sophie Brilliant Publications

Teach French with Luc et Sophie

Take, for example, Teach French with Luc et Sophie, our story book approach to teaching French. The teacher’s guides contain everything you need: lesson plans, vocabulary lists, English translations, worksheets, grammar points, supplementary worksheets, play scripts and more. The accompanying CD-Rom contains songs, audio versions of the stories, e-book versions of the stories, so that they can be displayed on an Interactive Whiteboard, along with Smartboard games.

We encourage creativity

9781783170739 Brilliant Activities for Reading Comprehension Year 5 Brilliant Publications

Brilliant Activities for Reading Comprehension, Year 5

We want children to be engaged and enjoy what they are doing – as that will help them to stay on task. This is why we particularly like our Brilliant Activities for Reading Comprehension series. We decided that if we are asking children to read, understand and answer questions from a passage, that passage should at least engage their attention, and indeed their teacher’s attention as well. We’ve even provided cross-curricular activities to go with each passage, enabling children to respond to the passages in a variety of creative ways.

We embrace challenge

9781903853740 Maths Problem Solving, Year 1 Brilliant Publications

Maths Problem Solving, Year 1

Important as it is that activities are attention grabbing, this isn’t enough. Children must be challenged to do their best.  This is why our books contain activities to challenge children of all abilities. In the Maths Problem Solving series, for example, there are three versions of each activity, so you can give the children the right sheet for their ability. The level of complexity of the sums vary but the line of questioning remains the same, so all children are developing the same concepts, while at the same time being stretched.

We offer convenience

Our books will save you hours of preparation and planning time. Most are available as both printed books and e-pdfs, so you can buy the format that suits you. We even offer a special discount if you want to buy both together. We also have many e-resources, some costing as little at 99p, so you only need to buy the resources you need.

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Filed under Brilliant Publications, English, French, Mathematics

Finger tracing helps to solve maths problems

According to a research project published in the Journal of Applied Cognitive Psychology,  tracing over mathmatical problems with one’s finger helps develop mathematical understanding.

Tracing can help when learning not only spatial topics such as shapes and angle relationships, but also for non-spatial tasks such as learning the order of tasks in arithmetic problems.

For instance, pupils who traced over the addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and brackets symbols in problems such as 7 x (31 – 20) + 56 ÷ (5 – 3) = ? solved more problems correctly on a subsequent test.

The study also found that pupils who traced over key elements of maths problems were able to solve other questions that extended the initial maths problem further, showing that the tracing was helping them develop a deeper, more flexible understanding of the problem-solving methods.


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Who developed the grid method of multiplication?

Few people disagree on the importance of being able to multiply large numbers together. However, there is much debate on the best way to do so.

Some might argue that, now that calculators are so readily available, children don’t need to learn to do this on paper (or mentally).

On the other hand, the 2014 National Curriculum advocates a move back to ‘formal written methods’.

What people might not realise, however, is that the grid method, much maligned by some as a modern trendy method that ought to be stamped out, actually has its routes in the 13th century.  The lattice method of multiplication was introduced by Fibonacci. His 1202 treatise Liber Abacii (Book of the Abacus) was the most sophisticated work on arithmetic and number theory written in medieval Europe.

His lattice method of multiplication is incredibly simple.  Here’s how to multiply 534 x 42.

First write the numbers on your grid:


Then multiply each pair of digits. Put the tens number on top of the diagonal line and the ones number below it:


Then total the diagonals (adding in carried over numbers if necessary):


The answer to 534 x 42 = 22,428

Another great way resource for teaching children mathematics is a simple deck of cards. Deck Ahoy! contains over 100 activities and games to teach primary maths skills with a deck of cards. Topics covered are not only the main operations – addition, subtraction, multiplication and division – but also fractions, statistics, time, ratios, squares and cubes and graphs.

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Online multiplication tests for 11 year olds

Nicky Morgan has announced that 11 year olds will be given an online test to check that they know their multiplication tables.

While I think it is essential that children know their times tables, I worry that this will result in more rote learning and testing rather than in a true understanding of mathematics.

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Filed under Assesssment, Key Stage 2, Mathematics, News

How useful are times tables tests?

In the drive to raise standards, the National Curriculum in England has now said that children need to know their times tables to x12 by the end of Year 4 (two years earlier than in the previous National Curriculum). This, not surprisingly, has led to more testing to ensure that children can tell you that 7×8=56 and 6×9=54.

Professor Boaler from Stanford University recently caused a stir by saying that children found times table tests streesful and that they should be banned. This immediately caused a furore of people accusing her being against raising standards in education.

But this is misunderstanding what Prof Boaler’s research has shown (see attached article). She does not say that children shouldn’t learn their times tables. She isn’t saying that they aren’t important and fundamental building block for future study of mathematics.

What Prof Boaler is arguing against are the tests themselves. By over-emphasising times tables tests, we develop in children the wrong attitude towards maths with a “narrow and impoverished” focus on getting the right answers fast.

Prof Boaler continues: “We need to free our young people from the crippling idea that they must not fail, that they cannot mess up, that only some students can be good at maths and that success should be easy and not involve effort.”

Maths is so much more than that, and an essential life skill. Yes, we need to know if children have learned their times tables. But before we start grilling children on their times tables, we need to ensure that they’ve grasped the concept of multiplication (and its relationship to addition and division). They need to be shown concrete and abstract examples of multiplication in a variety of interesting ways. They need to be given opportunities to apply multiplication to real life situations.

That is what I love about The Mighty Multiples Times Table Challenge. It provides a fresh approach to learning times tables and will help all children to feel that they can do maths and – most importantly – that maths is fun.

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Filed under Assesssment, Mathematics