Back in November, I wrote about the maths lessons I ran when we had no power. I spoke about them at the MathsConf8 speed dating too, and found there was lots of interest in the idea.

Here are two more recipes from the same source. One works well as a revision exercise, and the other is designed to get students thinking about the bigger picture as well as the finer detail of a topic. No technology is needed for either.

If you have any ideas for lessons that you would like to share, please tweet me @bettermaths and I can add them to subsequent editions.

Revision on a plate

Revision on a plate is a good way to revise and review a topic


A few (clean) plates from the school kitchen, different sizes

A3 paper and pens

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Serves: 30+

Eating time: 1 lesson

This is a simple end of topic bake, designed to help students review and revise a topic.

First, draw a set of concentric circles on a sheet of A3 using the plates (or a compass).

The biggest circle represents the topic – I’ve used representing data as an example – then you draw in slices of different sizes to represent sub-topics, such as pie charts, box plots or frequency polygons.

To each slice, the students add keywords relating to that sub-topic and one example. So to the pie charts slice for box plots, they might add a sketch showing the median, quartile, inter quartile range and so on.Screen Shot 2017-01-17 at 20.38.44.png

I used to suggest that the size of the slices represented how much material there is in the sub-topic. More recently though, I’ve asked the students to draw smaller slices for topics in which they are confident in their understanding and larger slices for areas where they still feel uncertain.

This helps me gauge their knowledge of a topic and how comfortable they are with it.

To extend the activity, students can add in the links to previous topics, in a similar way the spiderweb activity from the previous blog.

FullSizeRender.jpgA completed revision on a plate exercise

The ‘look, remember, walk, talk’ game

This is a terrible name for a simple – but effective – memory game.


A mini whiteboard for you and one for each group (I suggest 4-6 students per group depending on how complex the whiteboard is)


Preparation time: 5 minutes

Serves: 30+

Eating time: 15 minutes

Introducing a new topic? Revising an old one? This game is a simple way to get your students looking at both the big picture and the fine details.

Divide your students into groups and draw a mindmap representing a topic on your whiteboard.

I tend to go for a mindmap with four branches, and no more than three levels to start off with. You can make the diagrams more complicated once the students become more comfortable with the game, or run it with larger groups.

Don’t show the students your whiteboard at this point.

Each group sends up one student to whiteboard. They get 30 seconds to look at the mindmap, then they go back and tell their group what they saw.

The group then has a few minutes to try to recreate the mindmap on their own whiteboard, based on what the first student has told them. The student who saw the original mindmap is not allowed to write or draw on the board!

The groups then get the chance to send another student up to see the mindmap and report back on what they see, until every student has had a turn. Encourage the groups to come up with a strategy for conveying as much information from the mindmap as possible.

At the end, compare the groups’ mindmaps to see who has captured the most information.

You don’t have draw a mindmap on the whiteboard. I’ve run this game with Venn diagrams, graphs, multi-stage questions and even cryptic crossword clues.

mind map
The ‘look, remember, walk, talk’ starts with a mindmap