Monthly Archives: June 2013

113. Did the Little Thinkers get you thinking?

Did my Little Thinkers give you ideas for a lesson?

I hope so!

These are my little crisp people and they’ve been helping pupils learn for over a decade.

I first thought up this task when an interactive whiteboard and digital projector came in the form of an overhead projector. Using the brand new concept of colour printing onto inkjet OHP transparencies, we could move these little people around the board and investigate different problems. Each number represents the number of bags of crisps eaten in a week. Each colour represents a flavour (Blue = salt & vinegar, red = ready salted, green = cheese & onion, pink = prawn cocktail).

You can sort by number of bags eaten:


You can create a flavour pictogram:


In fact you can use this resource with KS2 & KS3 to investigate lots of topics:
Sorting by category (number/colour)
Ordering numbers
Venn diagrams
Carroll diagrams

And anything else you can think of.

I’ve created an editable template of figures, in three different sizes. You print them out and use them individually, in group work or on the wall. There is also a teacher guide on how to use the crisp people.


Download your little people below:

Editable template  crisp-people-template-blank

Teacher guide and presentation crisp_people_guide

111. Gadget of the day 4

If you are one of the many teachers who can’t stay late at school to do your marking, then this is for you. No more soggy books on a rainy day, split bags spilling books everywhere, collapsible crates that collapse half way across the car park or welts on your hands from carrying heavy bags with narrow straps.


This is the Hi Gear folding picnic basket. It has a double ended zip that goes around three sides of the top forming a showerproof lid, padded metal handles and it folds down flat. I can fit a class set of books in half of it, leaving space for more books or essentials such as your lunch, raincoat, excess paperwork and a big cake. It is just the right size to fit in the boot of a car (mine is tiny and it fits).

It costs between £7.99 & £15, depending where you get it from. There are also several colour versions.

Go Outdoors

109. Bright vs Gifted

Is that girl bright? Is that boy gifted?


How can you tell? What is the difference?

This is one of those tricky areas that gets lumped together under the title ‘Gifted & Talented’. But what do we mean and how can we offer the best educational experience for them?

If you type ‘Bright Child vs Gifted Learner’ into Google you will find many websites listing the same characteristics. The bright children are easy to spot, the gifted learners can hid their talent behind disruptive behaviour and social awkwardness.

I don’t believe there is a ‘one size fits all’ definition of bright or gifted, but I do think it is worthwhile discussing their characteristics. I have made a discussion resource based on the varied resources available.

You could just print out the lists and discuss. You could ask people to pick out characteristics of a particular pupil and see if they consider them bright or gifted. You could do a simple card sort. However you do this, the process of thinking, reviewing and discussing is always useful.

Click here to download the resource.

108. Sumlock

This has got to be my geekiest purchase from an antiques and collectors fayre:


It is a working decimal comptometer from the 1960s. To be specific it is a Sumlock model 912/s sterling currency comptometer. It measures 330mm by 315mm by 135mm and was made by the Bell Punch Company. The maximum total it can display is £1,500/17s/11d. This is pre-decimal British currency.


I’m fascinated by old maths and science tools and books. I have an old maths instruction pamphlet from the 19th century with a chapter entitled ‘Mathematics for idiots and women’! So this comptometer is just my kind of thing. When my mother-in-law saw it, she told me about their use in offices. She worked with a comptometer operator in the pay office. Comptometer operators had to be specially trained and earned more than your average ‘office girl’.

I’ve been doing some research and found a rather marvellous website: The Vintage Calculator web museum.

The Sumlock Mechanical Calculator page explains all about this machine. It includes pictures of the internal gear mechanism.

There is also a section on ‘Operating a comptometer’. The processes and algorithms that an operator had to learn were quite complicated and they still had to use mental arithmetic – nothing like modern calculators.

I’m sure there is an arithmetic lesson here somewhere…

107. The Validator returns

Back in Post 72 I looked at the idea of a student validator, which had been developed by Mr Reddy (@MrReddyMaths).

View the original post here.

Well, I discussed it with my colleagues and a couple of us tried it out. It worked like a dream. Pupils of all abilities and ages took responsibility for checking work and giving advice. In fact it was so successful we have adopted it as Department. My HoD had seen ‘Peer Assessed’ stampers and ordered those as well as lanyards for everyone:


I’d like to thank Mr Reddy for sharing his idea on his blog.

If you want to introduce this concept to your pupils/staff check out my videoscribe introduction on YouTube. I’m still new to videoscribe, so it’s a bit jumpy, but the summary gets the message across.