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First Mental Arithmetic for the new curriculum

04 March 2016

First Mental Arithmetic for the new curriculum

Hot on the heels of revised Mental Arithmetic comes a new edition of First Mental Arithmetic, fully updated for the new Key Stage 1 maths curriculum.

The revised First Mental Arithmetic books have been carefully updated to meet the raised expectations of the Key Stage 1 programme of study. Together, they provide rich and varied practice to help develop children’s early maths skills and prepare them for all aspects of the new national tests.

Ofsted, in its ‘Good practice in primary mathematics: evidence from 20 successful schools’ report, highlights ‘the development of mental methods’, coupled with ‘plenty of opportunities for developing mathematical language’, as key factors in establishing the best mathematical start in Key Stage 1. The report also places a strong emphasis on the understanding of place value, fluency in mental methods, and good recall of number facts. First Mental Arithmetic combines all of these elements in an easy-to-use resource that not only equips children with the core skills needed for future maths success, but also builds confidence and independent learning skills.

Structured according to ability rather than age, Books 1 to 3 are aimed primarily at Year 1 pupils, while Books 4 to 6 are intended for pupils in Year 2. The format of First Mental Arithmetic differs from other more traditional mental maths resources in that the children read the questions themselves and write down their answers – as they will be required to do in the new Key Stage 1 maths tests. 

Those already familiar with First Mental Arithmetic will be aware of the distinctive three-part structure that is a key feature of the books. Each section has a slightly different emphasis designed to encourage children to think mathematically and make connections between different question types. The three sections are as follows:

  • Part A: questions using pictures or simplified language
  • Part B: questions using relevant mathematical vocabulary and symbols
  • Part C: word problems or questions that test understanding of mathematical concepts. 

Additional assessment materials such as Achievement Charts and Check-up Tests are provided to help you measure progress and identify gaps in understanding, while Just Facts questions help to secure children's knowledge of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts. Each book also begins with a Language of Maths page, serving as a helpful prompt whilst simultaneously developing the child’s understanding of number vocabulary.

Changes have also been made to the First Mental Arithmetic Teacher’s Guide, in the form of updated guidance on using the series as part of a whole-school approach to arithmetic, and two new Entry Tests to help teachers, parents and tutors select the most appropriate book for each child. Copies of the two new Entry Tests are also available as free downloads from the Schofield & Sims website, along with a National Curriculum Chart, Maths Facts copymasters and editable Achievement Award certificates.

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