Get practising times tables

Are your children going to be tested under the new Multiplication Tables Check (MTC) assessment? Make sure you take advantage of Topmarks’ Hit the Button game to help get them ready!

The government’s new MTC test has been introduced to ensure Year 4 primary school children in England can fluently recall multiplication tables up to and including 12 × 12. Whilst it’s available this year as a voluntary test, it will be mandatory from June 2020, so now’s the time to ensure pupils will be up to speed. (Especially Year 3 children who will be progressing!)

Hit the Button online mental maths gameTopmarks’ Hit the Button web game is designed for mental maths learning, including times tables, so it is a must-have tool for classroom and after-school practice. The Times Tables mode includes levels for all tables up to ×12, either as individual tables or a mixed table mode. Hit the Answer and Hit the Question options are available for all.

However, the Topmarks Hit the Button App version has additional features that will be even more useful. Further levels are included to practise mixed tables, especially one for ×2-5, ×8 and ×10 tables – ideal for Year 3 learners who will be at this stage. This will be perfect for teachers to use now, making sure their pupils are on target for next year’s MTC.

Hit the Button mental maths app, mixed times tables

For Year 4 children who are participating as a dummy run this year, use the Hit the Button App for extra help with their ×6 and ×7 times tables, which are playable as separate modes, again as Hit the Answer and Hit the Question.

Hit the Button mental maths app game

No ads, no in-app purchases, no internet connection needed – play either with or without the minute countdown against the clock, enjoy trophy high scores, and full player tracking as you can add up to 30 pupil user IDs!

Look out for the Hit The Button App on all platforms, just £2.99:
> here in the iOS App Store
 > here at the Google Play store
 > here for Kindle Fire via Amazon

Mission X: Train Like an Astronaut with STEM ideas

Have you seen the challenge programme, Mission X: Train Like and Astronaut 2019? Focusing on fitness and nutrition, it’s a great plan full of STEM activities to encourage pupils with training missions to improve strength, balance, coordination and more.

Mission X, designed in conjunction with international partners NASA, esa (European Space Agency) and the UK Space Agency, is created for children aged 8 to 12. The site is full of resources for teachers, as well as educators who run science clubs and after-school groups, to help teach principles of health and exercise with a space context.

Mission X: Train Like an Astronaut 2019

Many of the lessons and activities are linked to the science curriculum, and are based on real-life physical requirements of humans travelling in space.

Mission X: Train Like an Astronaut 2019

Pupils practice scientific reasoning and teamwork through STEM education and physical activities, whilst targeting strength, endurance, coordination and spatial awareness. Participating teams earn points which can be submitted through the Mission X website. All points earned will help the Mission X mascot, Astro Charlie, walk to the Moon.

Mission X: Train Like an Astronaut 2019

Find the Mission Journal Logbooks for children’s use and free teachers’ notes, plus posters, badges and lots of ideas and videos to spark interest, on the Mission X website, from ESERO-UK (European Space Education Resource Office – UK).

Sign up today and help inspire a new generation of space explorers!

Change4Life – ways to cut down on sugar

Topmarks has been exploring a new set of teaching resources, Sugar Smart World, from Change4Life, set to inspire teachers, parents and children to eat less sugar. Healthy living is easy with simple swaps!

New year, new beginnings… this launch is ideally timed when we’re all increasingly conscious of healthier lifestyles and how to make the right choices for our diets.
Public Health England (PHE) exists to help support the nation’s health and wellbeing, and reduce health inequalities. Survey research by PHE shows that children are consuming 2,800 excess sugar cubes each year, that’s around eight extra cubes per day. Enough to wrap around the world more than three and a half times!
With the fun new classroom resources from the Change4Life team, developing healthier habits will be simple.

Change4Life SugarSmartWorld, healthy eating

These dedicated English, Maths and Science resources are perfect for encouraging kids to learn about sugar content of different foods and drinks, then to make the right choices for healthier lifestyles.

Change4Life SugarSmartWorld, healthy eating

The average 10 year old has already consumed at least 138 kilos of sugar; if children were to keep their consumption within the maximum recommended sugar intake after the age of 2, it would take them until they are at least 18 years old to reach this figure.

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE, said: “Educating children on the importance of a healthy balanced diet in their early years can help them avoid serious illness in future.
“By making simple swaps each day, children can have healthier versions of everyday foods and drinks, while significantly reducing their sugar intake.”

Change4Life SugarSmartWorld, healthy eating

Cllr Sabia Hussain and teacher Rebecca Glanville show pupils from Penn Wood Primary School in Slough how to make healthier choices using Change4Life’s new Be Food Smart app from PHE

The resources are flexible to use and tailored for Reception, Key Stage 1 and upper and lower Key Stage 2 pupils. They’re developed with teachers, complementing the national campaign encouraging parents to “make a swap when you next shop”.

  • The new English lesson plans introduce pupils to the characters of ‘Sugar Smart World’ through fun, interactive PowerPoints, pupil-led activities, recipe ideas and a new video.
  • Change4Life Maths lesson plans will reinforce healthier swaps, while including important problem solving skills using addition, subtraction, division and multiplication.

Change4Life SugarSmartWorld, healthy eating
Change4Life SugarSmartWorld, healthy eating

Visit now to see what’s available, use the social media hashtag #makeaswap and look out for the Sugar Smart World take-home packs (great for beyond-the-classroom working!) arriving in schools from mid-late January. Sign up to the Change4Life School Zone newsletter too, to keep up-to-date with more resources that are constantly being added.

RSPB Big Schools’ Birdwatch is coming!

Are you joining in with the Big Schools’ Birdwatch project, early in the new year? It’s a fabulous conservation science scheme by the RSPB that’s perfect for inspiring youngsters, all over the UK!

Every year the Big Schools’ Birdwatch does great work in helping to track bird population numbers across the country.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds is a charity whose scientific work is vital for looking after our feathered friends. The Big Schools’ Birdwatch is just one such initiative, and can be run with any age group of children.

All you have to do is spend one hour counting the most birds seen together, of each species that comes to your school. No special birdwatching knowledge is required! Registration for the event is open now, and final survey counts have to be submitted to the RSPB, online, by 22 February 2019.

RSPB Big Schools' Birdwatch 2019

Watch this handy video from the RSPB to what is like to take part in the Big Schools’ Birdwatch!

There are direct links with National Curriculum learning objectives, and lots of free resources are supplied by the RSPB to support the Birdwatch programme. Send off for your registration pack now, which includes a FREE bird identification poster.

RSPB Big Schools' Birdwatch 2019Plus, on the RSPB site, you can download easy-to-use counting sheets for pupils to record their bird count findings (find several versions, tailored for different age groups!), and why not try craft activities, bird-themed games to play, recipes for bird treats and more?! Click now to
make the most of all the downloads here.

And don’t forget too to watch out for the results of the Birdwatch later in the spring – if you’re registered to receive the newsletter, you’ll be notified of the results to follow up in class.
Be sure to plan now for this event in your lessons for the new term, and join the fun!