Turn pupils into mathemagicians with these creative ideas for maths clubs
Getting kids hooked on maths can sometimes be a bit of a task, but with these excellent ideas you'll always have an ace up your sleeve…
- by Jo Morgan
Brrr, it’s cold outside. When the weather is terrible, it’s heartwarming to see a group of children huddled inside a classroom enthusiastically playing board games or getting stuck into maths problems while they eat their lunch. It’s safe, it’s social and it’s enriching.
The extracurricular offering of most primary and secondary schools typically includes music, languages, art and PE. But some children would like nothing more than to attend a maths club. To quote Count On Us, an initiative that provides free maths-club resources to primary schools:
‘A good Maths Club gives pupils the opportunity to experience maths outside the normal classroom environment, and should make maths engaging and enjoyable. The club should raise the profile of maths in school and support your pupils to: improve their subject knowledge, improve their attitudes to maths and increase self-confidence’.
In this article I will share some of the wonderful maths clubs that schools are running all over the world, and ask that you leave a comment to tell us about the clubs that you run too.
Puzzles and games
Maths teachers often run clubs where students play games involving logic and strategy.
Card games and chess are popular choices. Rubik’s Cubes also go down well, as do board games such as Ticket to Ride, Yahtzee, Rush Hour, Labyrinth and Citadels. Schools might benefit from asking parents for board game donations.
Kids love magic too! If a member of your team is a budding mathemagician, there’s no doubt that a magic club would be well received by students.
Clarissa Grandi’s website artfulmaths.com provides advice, ideas and resources to support teachers setting up an origami club.
If you don’t have a talent for paper folding then there are plenty of other creative mathematical activities to explore. I’m a big fan of hexaflexagons!
Stretch and challenge
Maths clubs are often aimed at the most talented mathematicians, preparing them for competitions such as the UKMT Individual and Team Challenges and Olympiads.
The intensity of preparation for these competitions varies hugely by school, and is often reflected in results.
A good example of these clubs is at grammar school Tiffin – the details of their Zeta Club and Riemann Zeta Club are available on Dr Frost’s website. Dr Frost very helpfully shares resources to help secondary schools set up similar clubs.
Mr Briggs (@mrbriggsmaths) told me about his ‘Fermat Club’ for Years 7s and 8s who are preparing for the UKMT Junior Maths Challenge. They recently enjoyed exploring the brilliant Josephus Problem.
Numberphile videos are great for maths enrichment.
Many students enjoy Times Tables Rock Stars so much that they are keen to do more after school with friends.
All you need is an IT Room and rock music! A bit of friendly competition between students and teachers always goes down well.
Codebreaking has wide appeal. There are plenty of resources available for club organisers, as well as national competitions for students to get involved in.
STEM clubs are great for budding engineers who love maths, science and technology. NRICH helpfully provides an abundance of STEM club material. Some STEM clubs focus on preparing entries to competitions such as the F1 in Schools Challenge.
Less about enrichment, but equally important – most schools run homework clubs or maths clinics to provide support to struggling students. If your school has a Sixth Form then is a good opportunity to enlist A-Level students as volunteers.
The extracurricular clubs that your school runs will be largely be dictated by the interests and talents of your teachers.
To run a successful club all you need is good advertising, good resources, prizes or stickers, and enthusiastic staff and students. Biscuits go down well too!
Do you run a maths club? Are you feeling inspired to set up a maths club? I’d love to hear about your experiences.
Jo Morgan is a maths teacher, blogger, resource sharer & mum. She’s also on the TES Maths Panel and the AQA Expert Panel, and is an FMSP Associate and SCITT Maths Lead. You can find her at resourceaholic.com or on Twitter at @mathsjem.