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What Makes a Good Resource: Number properties - matching and catching game

This page has been archived. The content was correct at the time of original publication, but is no longer updated.
Created on 19 August 2010 by ncetm_administrator
Updated on 03 September 2010 by ncetm_administrator

What Makes a Good Resource

Number Properties

Resource description:

1 2
3 4
5 6
7 8
9 0

A set of number cards (0-9), enough for one set per pair.

Teacher Comment

When teaching properties of numbers, I found it hard to make the activities I used fun and interesting. I really wanted something interactive and engaging in order to enhance my Year 6 class’ learning of basic facts. One of the best ways to get children engaged in learning is to create competition, so I developed the use of a ball game and these cards and used them throughout the teaching of number properties.

What I did:

As with every lesson, I began by asking a question and letting the children discuss what they already knew about the topic. The focus of this particular lesson was prime numbers, so I asked ‘What do you already know about prime numbers?’ This gave the children an opportunity to discuss what they had learnt in previous years, rather than hitting a class with a question that they may not know the answer to. As previously mentioned, this resource was used throughout the week for teaching prime numbers, square numbers, factors and multiples.

Is this what I regularly do at the beginning of a new topic? Should I?

Here is what I did for prime numbers:

Prime numbers

Once the children had shared what they knew about prime numbers with a partner, we had a time of feedback, discussing what they are and I showed the children a power point presentation to clarify understanding and aid the visual learners. As soon as I felt the children had grasped the concept, I asked them to write down, with their partners, the prime numbers up to 30.

After we shared their thinking as a class, we played this ball game: I stood in the middle throwing the ball to the children in an anti- clockwise circle, counting the numbers 0-30.If they caught the ball when it was a prime number, they had to sit down. The last person standing at the end was the winner. As you can imagine, they loved the idea of a competition.

What other resource could I use to the same effect instead of a ball?

Next, the children played a 2nd game with their partner. The instructions were as follows:

  • Each pair places a set of number cards between 0 and 9 face down on the table.
  • They divide a whiteboard into 2, with each player’s initials at the top of one section to keep the score and record their numbers.
  • Each child, in turn, picks two number cards, makes a 2-digit number and records it in their section of the whiteboard. If this number is a prime number, they get a point.
  • The person with the most points is the winner.
  • The numbers are laminated so they can be used in a variety of games and tasks.

Can they choose which order to place the digit cards? Would this become a game of strategy?

I followed the same format in subsequent lessons which focussed on square numbers, factors and multiples adapting as necessary.

Square numbers

Once we had discussed square numbers, I showed them a power point presentation, to help the visual learners understand exactly what square numbers are. The powerpoint presentation demonstrated what square numbers are by showing them in a square. This helped the visual learners as it showed them as a square


How do I introduce square numbers? Would this idea be better?

After, they played the ball game previously described, sitting down if they called out a square number. The card game was adapted so that they made a two-digit number and, if it was a square number, they got a point e.g. if they made 36 ,they would get a point. This could be easily extended by asking the children to make a three-digit number.


At the beginning of the lesson, I began by asking the question ‘What do you already know about Factors?’ and let the children pair share. Some of the responses were ‘They are numbers that go into other numbers.’ Once they understood, and I could see they understood from the responses on their w/b, we went on to the game. During the ball game for factors, again I stood in the middle, throwing the ball in an anti- clockwise circle to each child asking them questions e.g. ‘can you…. give me a factor of 12… two factors of 36... a factor pair to make 40?’ If they were wrong they would have to sit down. This task would be differentiated through questioning.

What other questions could I ask?

The card game was adapted so that they made a two-digit number and then picked a third card. If that card was a factor of their number they scored a point. To extend this, some of the children made three-digit numbers.


Like the others, at the beginning of the lesson, I began by asking the question ‘What do you already know about Multiples?’ and let the children pair share. After we fed back as a class and many children said that they were the same as timestables, I threw a ball to each child asking them questions about Multiples, e.g. Give me 5 multiples of 6. If a child gets it wrong or they say a factor instead of a multiple, they may have to sit down. This task would be differentiated through questioning.

To make this game more challenging I either gave them a time limit or made them clap once before they catch the ball. As soon as all the children had a go, I did some quick- fire questions on the w/b so I could see which children would need to be assisted in the next task.

I adapted the game so that the children, in their pairs, took it in turns to use the cards to make a two-digit number and then pick a third card. If the third card was a multiple of the number made, they scored a point. Again, as an extension, some children were expected to make three-digit numbers.


This fun, easily accessible and adaptable way of teaching properties of numbers has proved to be a great resource.

Practising through the ball and card games has been a far more successful way to help the children grasp and remember the taught concepts. This was evident In later lessons and the answers that they gave at the end of their lesson on their w/b. They provided the children with an interactive and engaging opportunity which the worksheets I used to use didn’t. In the past they tended to forget the different properties of numbers, but now they remember them! There was very little class-room management needed to keep the children on task as they were playing a game and were in competition with each other. If they did win the game, they would get a reward such as a star and of course the glory of winning.

How can I do this with my lower attaining learners?


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