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Mad Math for Primary Students Book 1

Stimulating problem solving activities for students aged 6-8 years old.

Mad Math for Primary Students Book 1 by Greg Mitchell
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Mad Math is a problem solving based set of blackline master math activities for primary students. The basic aim of the series is to cloak the cognitive processes involved in problem solving in an attractive, enjoyable exterior.

The activities are often fun ... mad even, but the basic underlying principles are sound.

Ordering these activities according to difficulty is extremely hard to do because student readiness for problem solving relies greatly upon their previous experiences and how the material is presented in the classroom. Similarly, it is hard to classify these books according to year level. Basically, Book 1 is framed for primary (Grades 1 - 3), Book 2 for Intermediate (Grades 3 - 5) and Book 3 for Grades 6 - 7 students. These levels are not prescriptive, thus materials should be selected to suit the student, group or class.

The aim of Mad Math is to develop problem solving skills rather than other, more mechanical number skills. Any aid which assists in getting the problem solved is to be encouraged as the process is much more worthwhile than the answer in this case. Calculators, blocks, counters, squared paper, pieces of paper to draw on and indeed anything that helps the process of problem solving should be encouraged and made available.

To get the best out of Mad Math

Each Mad Math activity page has three parts to it:

1. The Problem Read through the problem with the student, group or class you are using it with. Whilst reading for meaning is a very important skill, major emphasis here is problem solving skills,
not reading. So, ensure that all students understand and are fully aware of the problem presented. Discuss the problem before progressing to the questions, perhaps developing your own questions
before moving on.

2. The Questions Ensure that all the students understand the question and its context before they tackle the
answer. The benefits flow from the process not the answer. In fact many students will have
difficulty in framing a form of attacking the problem. Discussing the questions helps overcome this.

Independence will develop with experience.

3. Madness ... The Extension The final task adds a further fun dimension to those on the page. These activities may not be
totally math orientated but they lend an enjoyable end to a math session. The ‘Madness’ boxes are intended to be optional.

Assessment In assessing these activities it is essential to consider more than just the answers. "Did the student understand the problem?" is probably the most important question to be asked and evaluated. Questions about computational accuracy are of secondary importance ... but important nevertheless.

Do not forget to evaluate your own presentation of the material ... using materials such as this as ‘busy work’ may indeed cause more work than was intended.

Ready-Ed Publications; June 2001
48 pages; ISBN 9781875268825
Read online, or download in secure PDF format
Title: Mad Math for Primary Students Book 1
Author: Greg Mitchell; Terry Allen

Worksheet 5

Al, Pal and Smal came to school in their spacecraft.

Al, the biggest of them, wanted to be in grade six. Smal, the smallest one, wanted to be in grade two and Pal was in the class half way between the two of them. They wanted to be in the school football team too, but no one could find a pair of football boots to fit them, or a football jumper that would suit them.

So they went home.


1. What grade was Al going to go into?

2. What grade was Pal going to go into?

3. Who was the smallest one?

4. How many eyes does each alien have?

How many eyes did the three have altogether?

5. Why couldn’t anyone find a football jumper to fit them?


+ Answer Yes or No to these statements:

6. Two aliens would have six feet.

7. I would have an alien in my class.

8. I am an alien.