Category Archives: Maths

Number Fun Darlington

Maths Workshop Darlington Area

Problem solving

Problem solving

Primary schools in the Darlington  looking for ideas for their maths week or who want to get their children excited about maths can book our Number Fun or Magic Maths Workshop.

We are within easy reach of schools in Darlington, Richmond ( Yorks ), Northallerton, Ripon, Barnard Castle, Bedale, Leyburn, Stockton, Newton Aycliffe, Catterick, Bishop Auckland and surrounding areas.

We bring magic into the classroom by teaching the children tricks that are based on maths to achieve their magical effect.

The workshop activities include problem solving, team work, communication skills, mental maths, drama, logic, listening, concentrating, following instructions, confidence building, calculating on paper and with calculators, number bonds and patterns, areas and shapes and more.

The Magic Maths Workshop is aimed at KS2 but younger children can also take part. Some schools mix the year groups so that the older children can help the younger ones.

To find out more please use the enquiry form on our main web site.


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Maths Investigation

Card Trick Puzzler

A magic maths workshop is a great way to enthuse your children and get them excited about maths.

The following trick is perfect for a maths investigation for your school maths week or as a maths problem solving activity. The trick is easy to demonstrate and is self working. All you require is a pack of ordinary playing cards.

Maths Workshop

Maths Workshop

Here is what you do:

  1. Have a volunteer shuffle the cards using any method they prefer.
  2. Explain that you want them to turn the deck of cards over and look at the value of the bottom card. Place this card face down on the table and then turn the pack over so that it is also face down and deal off cards from the top of the pack  up to the value of twelve and place them one at a time on top of the original card face down card forming a pile. For example, if the value of the first card on the bottom of the deck was six it would be placed face down on the table. The pack is turned over and cards are dealt from the top of the pack, the next card counting as seven, then eight, nine etc up to twelve. ( All picture cards are given a value of ten ).
  3. Demonstrate the above to be sure that your volunteer understands your instructions.
  4. Have them reshuffle the cards then turn away leaving them to make a pile of cards as described.
  5. Now ask them to continue repeating the process until all of the cards are used up.
  6. When they come to the last pile, if the last cards will not count to twelve they are put to one side as a remainder.
  7. When they have finished you turn round and announce that you will state exactly the total obtained by adding up the value of the bottom card of every pile even though you are unable to see any of the cards because all of the plies of cards are face down.
  8. You then glance down at the piles of cards and after a few moments thought declare a number.
  9. The volunteer turns over all of the piles of cards and adds up the value of each one. The grand total is the same as the number you declared.
  10. You bow modestly.

How to work out the answer:

When you turn round count how many piles of cards there are and subtract four. Whatever you are left with multiply by thirteen and then add to this the number of cards left over. This will be the total.


There are nine piles of cards.

9 – 4 = 5

5 x 13 = 65

Lets say there were three left over cards.

65 + 3 = 68

The sum of the values of the bottom card on every pile will be 68.


Problem solving

For a school problem solving activity or as a maths investigation have your pupils work in pairs or small groups. Give each group a pack of fifty two playing cards and ask them to try out trick for themselves. Once they are confident in the execution of the trick ask them to explain why it works.

Book a Magic Maths Workshop for your school.

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Number Tricks For Maths Fun

Playing with numbers can be fun!

Magic Maths

Magic Maths

With a little imagination it’s easy to add some excitement to a maths lesson. Children love learning tricks and so showing them a trick that they can easily learn which requires some simple maths is a great way to get them practicing their numeracy skills and having fun at the same time.

In this trick the performer successfully predicts the answer to a sum using a set of numbers freely chosen by a spectator.


The performer invites a spectator to assist him.

The performer writes down a number on a slip of paper, folds it up and has another person look after it but gives instructions that the number must not be revealed until asked.

The performer hands the spectator a sheet of paper and a pen and asks him to think of any three consecutive numbers and write them down. He then asks them to reverse the same three numbers and do a subtraction sum taking the smallest from the largest.

When the spectator has worked out the answer the person holding the other slip of paper is asked to unfold it and reveal the number written down by the performer.

Both numbers are the same. Performer bows.

Round of applause!

How it works

If you write down any three consecutive numbers, reverse the same three numbers and do a subtraction the answer will always be 198. ( or -198 if they have taken the largest from the smallest ).

You can do the same trick with any four consecutive numbers and the answer will always be 3087.

Explain to your children how the trick works and then have them practice taking turns to be the performer. Use both three and four number versions.

Book a Maths Workshop for your school.


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Understanding Counting Systems

Counting in different bases

As we humans have ten fingers we learn to count in tens ( base 10 ).  If we had three fingers on each hand we would count using base 6. The table below shows how counting in base 10 compares to counting in other bases.

The column down the left hand side are the decimal numbers 1 to 10. The numbers in the table are how they would be written in the different bases from base 2 to base 9.


[table id=2 /]


English: Counting Hand 3

We use base ten ( decimal ) because we have ten fingers.

In Base 5, twenty is written as 40 because we are counting in groups of five. There are no units, so the right hand digit is zero, but there are four lots of five so the left hand digit is four. So the notation for twenty in Base 5 is 40.

In Base 3, seventeen is written as 122 because we are counting in groups of three. There are two units, so the right hand unit is two, there are two lots of three so the next digit is two and there is one group of nine so the left hand digit is one. So the notation for seventeen in Base 3 is 122.



The table below shows the number sequence for counting in base 2 to base 5.  When writing the numbers down the units are on the right, numbers groups increasing to the left.

In the decimal system this notation would be:

Thousands       Hundreds     Tens    Units


[table id=3 /]


If we look at base 5 above. The first digit on the right is units. The next digit represents groups of five ( 1 x 5 ), then groups of twenty five ( 5 x 5 ), then groups of one hundred and twenty fives ( 5 x 25 ) and finally groups of six hundred and twenty fives ( 5 x 125 ) and so on.



If we want to convert 493 to base 5 we could do it this way:

493 / 125 = 3 remainder 118

118 / 25 = 4 remainder 18

18 / 5 = 3 remainder 3

3 units.

Therefore the answer is 3433.

Check the working out.

3 x 125 = 375

4 x 25 = 100

3 x 5 = 15


375 + 100 + 15 + 3 = 493


Book a Magic Maths Workshop for your school.

Related articles

  • How to convert Decimal to Octal (Base 10 to Base 8)
  • Complex Bases
  • How to Convert Decimal to Hexadecimal (Base 8 to Base 16)
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Classroom Number Tricks

Magic Maths

Maths Workshop

Maths Workshop

Here is an exercise you could incorporate into a maths lesson to add interest and fire up the children’s imaginations. Tell your class you are going to teach them a magic trick using numbers.

Number trick : using the number 8

You will need calculators and a white board. This is the number sequence we will be using:

1 x 8 + 1 = 9

12 x 8 + 2 = 98

123 x 8 + 3 = 987

1234 x 8 + 4 = 9876

12345 x 8 + 5 = 98765

123456 x 8 + 6 = 987654

1234567 x 8 + 7 = 9876543

12345678 x 8 + 8 = 98765432

123456789 x 8 + 9 = 987654321


To explore how the trick works start by writing down the first two calculations:

1 x 8 + 1 =

12 x 8 + 2 =

but don’t show the answers yet.

Let the children work out the number sequence and have them tell you what the next row will be.


Keep going until you have this:

1 x 8 + 1 =

12 x 8 + 2 =

123 x 8 + 3 =

1234 x 8 + 4 =

12345 x 8 + 5 =

123456 x 8 + 6 =

1234567 x 8 + 7 =

12345678 x 8 + 8 =

123456789 x 8 + 9 =


Now let the children use their calculators to find the answer to the last two sums. When they have done so, write them down and be sure to keep the digits vertically aligned.

1 x 8 + 1 =

12 x 8 + 2 =

123 x 8 + 3 =

1234 x 8 + 4 =

12345 x 8 + 5 =

123456 x 8 + 6 =

1234567 x 8 + 7 =

12345678 x 8 + 8 = 98765432

123456789 x 8 + 9 = 987654321

Ask if they can see a pattern.

Ask how many numbers are in each answer.

Now have them write down what they think the remaining answers will be and then check them on their calculators.


Using their newly acquired knowledge the children are now ready to become classroom magicians. Here is how you can turn the trick into your own amazing maths magic show.



Choose a child to be the magician.

The magician declares that he / she has amazing maths skills and can predict the answers of difficult sums using his / her extraordinary powers.

The magician picks a member of the audience and gives them a calculator. Next she asks them to pick a number sequence beginning with 123. It can be any sequence up to the number nine ie 123456789. Then the spectator is asked to multiply by 8 and finally add x ( where x is the last number in the sequence ).

Example: If the spectator chose 1234 the the magician tells them to multiply be eight and add four ( x  =  4 )

The magician then declares the answer to the amazement of all. ( He / she simply counts down from nine ie if x was six the answer would be 987654 ) and takes a bow.

Big round of applause!


Book a Magic Maths Workshop for your school. Find out more by going to Maths Workshop Day.


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Magic Maths

Make Maths Exciting!calculations

Maths Workshop Day is all about having fun with numbers.  Each child becomes a Mathemagician learning how to do fab magic tricks and stunts which apparently require incredible mathematical ability, telepathy, super fast reflexes or special powers. Maths lessons will never be the same again!

Action centred learning

The Magic Maths workshop includes plenty of hands on, have a go activity. Playing cards, dice, string, match sticks, coins, paper, card and other everyday objects are used as props for counting and measuring. The children are therefore using their hands as well as their heads thus learning by doing.

Improving concentration

As with any new knowledge or skill, learning and performing number magic requires concentration. Although most of the tricks are  fairly straightforward it is essential to concentrate in order to avoid mistakes. Practicing the tricks helps to improve concentration.

Problem solving

Encouraging children to apply their intelligence and think is an essential part of the learning process. Magic is fascinating and most children are keen to try and work out how a magical effect is achieved. In the Magic Maths Workshop the children have a go at “problem solving” before the mystery is explained.

Mental maths

A Mathemagician has to be able to do quick calculations in his / her head. Pulling out a pocket calculator in the middle of a demonstration of maths genius is not an option! The workshop therefore encourages kids to practice their mental maths as part of a fun activity.

Building confidence

Once a trick has been mastered it must be performed. A performance can be one to one or in front of a group. Encouraging children to perform the tricks can help to build their self confidence.

Learning from mistakes

Helping children to understand that failing is part of the learning process is a valuable lesson in school and in life generally. In Magic Maths if the trick will not work it is because a mistake has been made. The workshop teaches the children to think through the process, identify the mistake and then to take care and try again.

Cross curricular

There is also scope to link the workshop to other subjects such as creative writing, history or science. Notes are provided for teachers with ideas on how this can be achieved.

Book a Magic Maths Workshop

For more information about Maths Workshop Day visit the Jolly Good Workshops for Schools web site.

Square Puzzle

Problem Solving Match Puzzle

Problem solving is an important skill. Set children simple tasks and puzzles to encourage them to exercise their brains. Setting practical tasks can compliment written work and computer sessions.

You will need twelve match sticks for this puzzle.


Can you create two squares by removing two matches?





By taking removing two matches you are left with a smaller square inside the big square.

More Tricks to try

Try out the The Magic Square and find your lucky number.

Try out the Nine Card Trick.

Book a Maths Workshop for your school.

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