Maths in SLD Classroom

My class are a wonderful group of individuals, all with their own gifts and challenges. They range in ability from p5/6 to p8. The area of study for this lesson… The vocabulary of shape.

We have, in previous lessons, experienced using 2d and 3d shapes and the children were to work both digitally and non digitally.

As a lesson opener I made a presentation reminding the children what they knew already, explaining the learning objective for the lesson and linking it to the eclipse we had all just witnessed. A rich tea biscuit and giant chocolate button helped here!

imageThe children working at p5/6 we’re learning to match shapes and put shapes in a shape sorter. In readiness for the lesson I used the iPad’s camera to take screen shots then used Pic Collage  to create a visual learning objective and reminder of the app they were to be using.
They had 2 activities to complete. The first involving the app Sorting 3 by Tiny Hands.

image        image   The game they were to play involved matching shapes to holes in a virtual shape sorter. The game creates errorless learning as it bounces incorrect shapes back. The adult working with the group talked through each selection using the relevant vocabulary.. Is it big or small? What shape? Is it a circle? Etc. the extension to this task was then to use a traditional wooden shape sorter to try to fit the shapes in. This too was carefully chosen.. A plain wooden shape sorter with 3 shapes per side. In previous weeks we had used a brightly coloured shape sorter. Some children were able to complete this well, but it was not clear if they were matching the colours or truly the shapes. One ingenious child put her shapes in the large hole in the side! The plain wooden shape sorter proved much more challenging and as these children range from year 4 to year 6, more age appropriate.

Their efforts were photographed on their own iPimageads and they were then able to put their photographs into their Maths journal, using Book Creator, annotated by the adult and saved to iBooks.

They were able to complete much of this independently.

The pupils working within p6 were learning to match and draw shapes.

Somimagee of these children have very poor motor skills. The first app I chose to use with them was Tiggly Safari, using Tiggly Shapes.
imageThis is a fantastic aimagepp which allows the use of shapes that the children can manipulate to complete the pictures on the screen. Again, the adult working with each child noted down the language the children could use and understand.

The second task for this group was to trace shapes.. Circle, square and rectangle. Given the needs regarding fine motor skills of the group the best app for this was Writing Wizard.

imageAs well as letters, numbers and words, this app has a section for practising shapes and patterns. A starting point is indicated and the child has to keep constant pressure, in the correct direction around the shape to complete it. Again the adult guides the child to the correct starting point and checks the vocabulary each child can use and understand.


imageThe final group of children working at p8 had a greater challenge. They were learning to identify shapes within objects and patterns. This was a test of their understanding of vocabulary describing shapes and their use of this vocabulary. The first app I used with this group was Shape Quest.


Their first task was to play Hide and Seek. The children being directed to find particular shapes within the picture on screen. When the correct shapes are touched creature appear… highly  motivating for our children.

As a reward they were then allowed to play Patch the Path.

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This uses augmented reality and a gameboard that you print off. For our children it is pure magic! Those with fine motor difficulties do not notice that their fingers are being strengthened and they are learning to use their hands and thumbs independently. They use their iPad to catch escaped puppies and manipulate the correct shapes to mend the path allowing the truck to move on. This game proved to be such a good motivator I had children asking to come to do their work. Keen to be independent some refused help, preferring to work it out for themselves… And as for that “awe and wonder” we had it in spades.

The other task this group were given used Osmo.    image

We used Tangram. This utilises the front camera on the iPad and gives pupils a picture, made using shapes from the Tangram set.

imageThe child has to match the picture. Exactly. The camera detects the shape and “bings” when each portion is correct.

Colour, shape and orientation are all vital. Again, the adult talks through the activity, checking the use and understanding of vocabulary.

All of the children were highly independent, motivated and engaged. The use of each app was carefully matched to each child’s learning objective. Adults play a key role in assessing the children and extending their use and understanding of mathematical vocabulary.

The only down side of the lesson…it went too quickly!

Creating multimedia instructional work on iPads.

As part of a topic we are currently doing on The Mayans and The Rainforest, we have been looking at drawing different Rainforest animals (Toucan, Gorilla, frogs etc). We have some great worksheets that show a step by step guide to creating these animals, even an artistically challenged individual, such as myself, can mange to create good animals!

We started by using these sheets to create the animals using our favourite drawing app on the iPad, Drawing Pad. At each stage the children took a screen shot of their drawing and soon had amassed a great selection of images to use in their instructional video.

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To make this content exciting and engaging for the students we decided to create an instructional video, explaining the steps to draw their animal. The children were keen to use iMovie to create their video, as they have used this a lot, to great effect. But, the ‘Ken Burns’ effect that iMovie places on the images would have made the overall impact poor (this is removable, but is very fiddly for the children to master).


So we chose to use Shadow Puppet, one of those core apps that is always a great go to classroom resource! We added our photos, made sure the order was correct, added a title and then began to record our instructions, flicking between the images as we went. Once happy we exported this to the camera roll!


The next stage of our work, was to write instructions for drawing our animal. We dropped our excellent videos into Book Creator, photographed the learning objective for the lesson and began to write our instructions. Here is an example of one child’s instructions to draw a frog, with the Shadow Puppet video embedded inside the page.


The children found having the video as a prompt for them a great help, it also made them focus on the precise details they were adding into their instructions.

Once marked we exported, as with all our work, into the fantastic SeeSaw learning journal, more about that here and (its use in another workflow with Book Creator) here.

From a simple cross curricular drawing and writing activity, we added in film making, speaking and listening skills and lots of fun! A great fun afternoon with great outcomes!




Marbotic Numbers – Number Games With Objects

One Sunday morning I was carrying out my normal Twitter feed check when I noticed some excitement around New York Toy Fair (, an event I have never heard of (but would love to visit!!). I had seen a number of educational iPad toys spoken about that I was aware of Tiggly, Osmo and Sphero. There was also Marbotic, a company I had never heard of, although their product looked exciting to use with the children in our SEN classrooms. The lovely people at Marbotic, a company based in Bordeaux France, sent me a set to trial with my class.

Their product is grounded in the Montessori educational method, one which uses practical, play activities to encourage independent learning. They have created 10 wooden number toys, that have a very classic feel to them, on the base of these numbers, are three spongy rubber feet that allow interaction with the two iPad apps they have developed.


10 Fingers + –

In the 10 Fingers + app there are three modes:

Mode 1 – features recognition of the numbers and their names, alongside images of objects, it has a level adjust that allows object counting and matching to the correct number toy.

Mode 2 – the opposite of mode 1, a number given and match the number of objects to this. The level adjust in this mode allows to place the displayed number of fingers onto the screen.

Mode 3 – adding of numbers to 10, firstly allowing the children to place two toys on the screen and seeing the number sentence displayed, and then asked a question for them to calculate the answer to and offer the correct toy to complete the sentence.

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Up to 100 –

Mode 1 – within this mode there are three seperate options. Chick option – place two toys on the screen in the tens and units columns to display the number in digits, words and spoken form. Chicken option – displays a number line and covers one of the numbers, the correct toys need to be selected to create this number on screen, again displaying  the number in digits, words and spoken form. Hen option – displays the number in words (with the option of an audio clue), the children then need to select the correct digits to make this number on screen.

Mode 2 – This mode is very similar to a hundred square and Cuisenaire rods of ten and units. Again three options are present within this mode. Chick option – this allows the child to place numbers in the tens and units ‘boxes’ and the app automatically places the correct number of ten rods and units onto the hundred square. Chicken option –  number is displayed, the child now drags the correct number of tens onto the share and also the number of units. Hen option – a number of ten rods and units are displayed, the children now has to select the correct toy and place into the correct tens and units column.




The apps are available for free if you purchase the toys, but are available to purchase seperatly to use without toys.

I have used the Up to 100 app with my class and they really enjoyed using it, finding it extremely easy  to use and interact with the iPad. They wanted to continue to ‘play’ with the game during their break time (a testiment to any app!) and have asked a few times if they can use it again! I have also leant it to the SLD class next door, they used the 10 finger + app, and had a similarly positive outcome. When using these games the children are learning so much through play, Marbotic have nailed the Montessori educational method!

All in all, Marbotic numbers are incredibly easy and fun to use. They are great for early numeracy skills, basic addition and working to understand place value, something that children in my SEN classroom often struggle with, so any resource like this is highly valuable. I feel this would be an excellent resource for an EYFS and KS1 classroom too. I’m pretty sure when my new budget is available I shall be placing an order for some more for other classes! Well done Marbotic on mixing the old with the new to great effect!!