Girl surrounded by educational symbols illustrating NRICH maths

Thursday 18th August 2022

Looking for ways to support younger family members to improve their mathematical skills? NRICH, one of the world’s largest maths outreach projects which is based at the University of Cambridge, is celebrating 25 years of offering free support for families. During the peak of the pandemic, NRICH launched Maths at Home and the team reported over a million weekly page views of its online resources. Don’t miss out, keep reading to find out how your family can make the most of NRICH.

Noah example of mathematical problem

Why not try exploring this typically engaging NRICH activity with younger family members?

Why does ‘thinking mathematically’ matter for my child?

NRICH activities are designed to support your younger family members to think mathematically; to be curious, willing to tackle unfamiliar problems and have the resilience to keep working hard even when they seem to be stuck, and the skills to work with others to find a solution. Being able to problem-solve and work collaboratively will help them to adapt and thrive in their ever-changing world.

Got it mathematical problem

Got It: A deceptively simple game for two players (interactive version available).

What does NRICH offer?

NRICH’s free online support is designed to meet the needs of youngsters from Early Years through to university entrance. To get the best out of its resources, it’s important to understand how they work. NRICH creates rich resources which means that while they are usually easy to understand, there’s plenty of depth in them for a young mind to explore. Don’t expect to find repetitive exercises on mathematical techniques, the team want your child to understand and to begin to think about problems in the way a mathematician solves problems.

Shape Times Shape mathematical problem

Shape Times Tables: A fun way to encourage strategic thinking skills while embedding key times tables facts

Sometimes you’ll want to discuss and think about a problem together. Sometimes it makes sense to be silent and let your child discover for themselves. Sometimes you’ll be a student yourself – learning as you go. You’ll find that the menus on NRICH are organised either for teachers or for students, but don’t feel left out. As a parent or carer sometimes you’ll be one, sometimes the other. Feel free to explore both.

Which problems should I choose?

A good starting point is the age of your child. NRICH problems are grouped into Early Years (3-5), primary (5-11), secondary (11-16) and post-16.

Marbles in a box mathematical problem

Screenshot of Marbles in a Box: A fascinating two-star challenge for secondary ages (11-16 year-olds)

What do the stars mean?

All NRICH problems are designed to get you and your child thinking and offer lots of opportunities to extend that thinking. They tend to start with a basic task and then having lots of opportunities to extend thinking; this approach can be described as Low Threshold High Ceiling (find out more about it).

The stars on each NRICH problem tell you how easy the team think that basic task is from accessible (one star) to very challenging (three stars). The screenshot shows ‘Marbles in a Box’, a typical NRICH two-star challenge for secondary students 11-16 year-olds.

Solutions

As you explore NRICH site you’ll notice that something very special about the project, its problems have solutions sent in by students from all around the world! Do encourage your youngster to have a look to see how their solution compares with others, particularly in terms of explanation and method.

Noah solution for mathematical problem

Here’s an example of a solution for ‘Noah’ which was shared by Amelia and Olivia: they found a number of ways of counting 2,3 and 6 animals, although they realised they couldn’t have a rabbit and a fly as this wouldn’t be enough legs!

Get published! Send NRICH a solution to a newly-published problem

At any time during the school year that you visit NRICH it will have several current features – groups of problems and games, perhaps with one or two articles, around a common theme – and a small number of problems from each of those will be Open for Solutions. NRICH doesn’t include solutions to problems when they are first published but they do encourage students to send them their solutions. Then they edit and publish extracts from a selection of them. The closing date for these will be advertised and they will collate the entries and publish them shortly after the closing date. Find out more about what happens after submitting a solution.

Don’t miss NRICH’s games!

Games are enjoyable to play and offer a great way of developing logical thought and strategic thinking. NRICH has games that can be played against the computer, such as Got it!, and some that are two-player games to play with a partner such as Nim-7. Can your youngster become a champion Nim-7 player? It can be a stimulating challenge to try and find a winning strategy for a game and see if you can become a champion.

To find out more, you may like to look at this Strategy Games Feature and  read this Going for Games article  to discover why games support children’s mathematical learning.

Three more ideas…

Take a look at this collection of posters with intriguing challenges on them that you may like to explore with your child.

If you are looking for resources under a particular topic then try exploring this collections of tasks, or take a look at the curriculum mapping documents  at all stages.

STOP PRESS: Throughout the summer holidays, NRICH also posts daily problems for primary and secondary ages.

Keen to find out more?

If you have any queries or questions about NRICH, please email the team at [email protected].

You can follow NRICH on Twitter, and you can sing up for their regular student and family newsletters.

 

Top image by Oberholster Venita from Pixabay

 

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