Malleable Musings

December 10, 2011

Number Squares

Filed under: Excel, Life at home — Brendan @ 10:01 pm

My eldest (aged 7) had a sheet of number squares as his homework last week.  It was like pulling teeth trying to get him to fill it in.  He hasn’t really got the hang of his times tables yet.  He’s OK on 1x, 2x, 3x, 5x, 9x, 10x but the others currently leave him flummoxed.

I think number squares are great but for them to be useful I think you need to be able to complete them quickly, know immediately whether you are right and wrong, and then try again.

I wondered about printing out a whole load of copies of different number squares but as I was making them I started thinking if there was an easier way of getting him to engage with this type of activity.  So after a few minutes thought I threw together this quick Excel spreadsheet.

I decided it would be helpful to have something that he could complete on the machine as it has a couple of features that beat a dead wood version:

1) A in built timer.

2) Conditional formatting to provide immediate feedback so that he knows whether or not he has got the sum right or wrong.

I showed it him this evening and his first reaction was, “Oh no not a number square!” However something interesting then happened.  His younger cousin (age 5) asked me to write out some sums for him.  Then once he’d done his sums he came and sat down next to my eldest and encouraged him.  Then my youngest son (age 6) started to take an interest.  Suddenly they were collaborating and it had become a game with each taking turns to try and get the answer right.

I doubt it’s ever going to take over from Moshi Monsters or Club Penguin as his game of choice but it is nice to see it being used.

If it gets more use I probably ought to do another macro to reset the square, i.e. distribute new numbers in the first column and row.

However, it works OK for now.