Guest post: Number Rumbler

The following blog post has been written by the Maths Charity, “Maths on Toast” about their lovely Number Rumbler campaign. I hope you can support it.



Let’s make times tables family fun!

“Times tables” – “times tables!” “Please, something for times tables!”

Maths on Toast is a charity that makes maths family fun – and we always ask our participants what sort of maths would like us to focus on. One answer has come up consistently, from teachers, parents and children, for over a year: time tables.

We knew that making times tables family fun would be a challenge, in part because when we spoke to parents and children we found a divide: some loved a fast-paced test, while others shuddered at the prospect and felt traumatised by the speed. (Research by Jo Boaler backs this impression up and suggests many are put off maths by speed testing).

In a project in Camden, London, funded by John Lyon’s Charity, we tried out a whole range of activities. We had children making ‘times tables scrolls’ reminiscent of the earliest known set of times tables, which is around 2300 years old. And we also devised some games. One of these, a card game, was surprisingly popular.

The game, now called Number Rumbler, is a deck of cards designed to improve players’ times tables with its fast-and-furious version of snap, or chin-rubbing version of pairs. The game focuses particularly on number sense, rather than number facts. Good number sense is the ability to see beyond a squiggle on a page to the very essence of the number itself. For example, in the game, ten is represented as10, as 2×5, as 2+2+2+2+2, and in several other ways. Number Rumbler has now received endorsements from Professor Dame Athene Donald, incoming president of the British Science Association and Margaret Haseler, Lead Primary Consultant at National Numeracy, as well as positive reviews from children and adults alike. In fact, the first time we played the game in public parents asked us where they could buy it.

And that is how our next challenge came about! Because we are a tiny charity, we didn’t have enough money for a commercial print run. To get the cost of the cards down to an affordable price we need to print at least 3000 copies. That’s how we came to launch a crowdfunding campaign. Crowdfunding is a new way of fundraising – after watching a video on the website, people can pledge either to buy a copy of the game or to make a donation. Amazingly, over the last month we have raised £5,692 for Number Rumbler– with contributions from 203 people. We need to raise £7,000 by October 2nd so as to reach our target. You can see the campaign link here:

As Margaret Haseler, Primary Lead Consultant at National Numeracy, said:

“This is a fun game for all the family which can be used in a number of

different ways – either as a matching game for young children, a memory game

similar to the classic Pelmanism or a quick response game similar to Snap. The

cards show quantities as calculations as well as dot arrays and this helps

children to see relationships between the different representations and thus

improve their number sense. A very simple but effective idea!”

We’re really proud of Number Rumbler and very excited by the support it’s got so far. We’re particularly pleased because that support echoes those initial requests. If we reach our funding target, we’ll be able to print enough copies of the game to keep on selling it – and potentially bring thousands of families – or more – a fun game that supports times tables.

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