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!

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!!

Tiggly Numbers

I recently purchased and posted about Tiggly Shapes, here.

I took this set to school and showed the EYFS team and the teams in the SLD classes, they were as excited as me. It was decided to raid the coffers and purchase some sets, one for each of the four classes. We also looked at Tiggly Numbers on the Tiggly website. We decided to get four sets of these too. Thursday saw them all arrive.

A set of the Tiggly Numbers stayed with me, so that I could have a look, think and play! The Numbers are built in a similar way to the Shapes. With the addition of a magnetic system at the end of each piece, allowing them to join together and stayed joined. The pieces teach children addition facts to 5 as a stand alone activity, owing to the fact that placing  the 2 and 3 pieces together makes them the exact same size as the 5, for example.


Like Tiggly Shapes, Tiggly Numbers has three Apps available on the AppStore. These three free Apps, allow the Tiggly Number pieces to interact with the games.

Tiggly Cardtoons – this game introduces the children to the numbers to five by story telling, counting and moving as well as using the pieces, reinforcing the numbers name and value.


Tiggly Chef – this game introduces adding two numbers. You do this by helping the slightly wacky chef (with an ace moustache!) to add the ingredients to create the bizarre recepies of his dishes. As you place the pieces on the screen an number sentence is constructed on the screen. This is a really fun way to start addition!


Tiggly Addventure – a step on from the Chef game. Addventure gives the children the opportunity to add numbers to build bridges and ladders to help the characters continue on their journey. This extends to counting in twos.


Tiggly Numbers, just like Shapes, will be a great teaching aid in our setting. I can highly recommend this to anyone looking for a fun way to work with numbers, and I for one can’t wait to see the children using them in class. I also hope that Tiggly make some more high quality toys and Apps that I can take into the classroom.

Protecting your school iPads in an SEN classroom…


During the last week I have dealt with the first damage to an iPad in the school, and also witnessed a child hit an iPad on a table from quite a height. This led me to reflect on the lack of damage to our iPad’s in our 1:1 iPad scheme so far and the reasons behind this.

Firstly the damage to the first iPad (bizarre green screen flash, then nothing) wasn’t from an obvious reason, no damage to the case, screen etc This may have been down to a faulty component internally or possibly someone had hit the screen or stood on it! Lucky our Apple Solution Partner, Academia, have been great at helping fix this issue, with a very small cost to the school!

The second incident that caused reflection, was witnessing a child hit the iPad (screen side up) onto a table, I feared the worse, expecting another iPad needing to be boxed for repair. To my surprise though no damage was caused!

I thought about how the second iPad wasn’t damaged, with the force used and also how as a school, how low the damage count to the 150+ iPad’s we have in use at school.

We use a combination of Griffin products for all the school iPad’s, both student and staff. We have been using the Griffin AirStrap for the teacher iPads,  these are light and user friendly and come highly recommended by us (although they seem not to be manufacturing them for iPad Air 2, a real shame!).

The student iPad’s are all protected by Griffin Survivor cases, these come at quite a cost per unit (around £40), but have proved great value, due to the low breakage level thus far, and also the protection from those outbursts I witnessed earlier this week.


These Griffin cases have been a great insurance policy for us to protect the schools iPad investment. I would guess that if it were not for these cases the breakage level would have been much higher than this.

I have also used the Vibe SlickGrip  and have been really impressed with them, especially their ability to ‘amplify’ the sound from the iPad speaker. Vibe’s product is very easy and comfortable to hold and much lighter than the Survivor.  Although, I would have probably witnessed some damage to the iPad bounced off a table (!) if we had used the SlickGrip throughout the school.

Just a few of my thoughts, obviously it depends on the children in the classes and budgets, as the SlickGrip retails at around half the price!

There are also, hundreds of other cases on the market, most of which I have not seen or tried in a school context!