March Mathematics

It seems appropriate to start this post with these brilliant March Calendars from Wayne Chadburn.

For a little bit of Maths each day students can use one of these March Calendars.
There are calendars available for Foundation, Foundation+ and Higher. All the calendars can be downloaded from the above link. All are designed to be non-calculator calendars. You can check your answers with the solutions provided.

National Careers Week runs from 1st-6th March. amsp are offering two free online enrichment events for Year 10 students to coincide with National Careers Week and British Science Week, both events will look at some of the varied careers which use maths. Further details are here: Which Career? – Meet people working in different roles and Which Career? – How maths is used in different roles. As amsp point out …

Attending the events will help both teachers and students link maths curriculum learning to careers, thus fulfilling Gatsby Benchmark 4.

4. Linking curriculum learning to careersAll teachers should link curriculum learning with careers. For example, STEM subject teachers should highlight the relevance of STEM subjects for a wide range of future career paths.

Check the BBC Bitesize Careers page to see what Bitesize is providing this week and note the information available here including Where could your favourite subject take you? Check out the Jobs that use Maths.

For more on linking curriculum learning to Careers see this post.

World Book Day is on 4th March.

AQA – Read All About It

March 14th is the International Day of Mathematics. The theme for 2021 is Mathematics for a Better World. Also celebrated in many countries as Pi Day because that date is written as 3/14 in some countries.

Looking at the suggestions to decorate an International Day of Mathematics event note this Mathematical Origami from the amazing Mathigon site.


World Book Day 2021

It is World Book Day on Thursday, March 4th.

There are a wealth of resources on the World Book Day site for children of all ages, including I noticed, good perhaps for reluctant readers, these free podcasts.

For a list of recommended books for young people interested in Mathematics, try this list from Nrich which is grouped into three different categories: History of Mathematics, Recreational and Thinking Mathematically. From Cambridge University this list of interesting mathematics books and internet sites is mainly intended for sixth-formers planning to take a degree in mathematics. The list includes some items which are suitable for less experienced readers so may well appeal to a wider audience. The list was last updated in September 2020. I see it includes Kevin Houston’s “How to Think Like a Mathematician, see also from Kevin Houston his page on the book which includes some solutions to problems in the book, also available are sample chapters on writing mathematics.

See also:

Here’s some very nice World Book Day Maths Problems from Laura Rees-Hughes.

World Bok Day Problems
World Book Day Problems – Laura Rees-Hughes

I think that’s 71 pages.

For younger students, this revision resource of problems was created for Year 6 (age 10-11) to use on World Book Day.

We could bring books and Mathematics together with some Statistics. UK readers who remember Statistics coursework may remember AQA’s coursework task ‘Read All About It’ where students considered various newspapers and magazines for readability. Similarly, we have Edexcel’s Newspaper Comparisons. A search for these old coursework tasks returned this Edexel document which has numerous investigations with mark schemes; Newspaper comparisons is on page 171. The document is a very useful source of problems and data handling activities.

AQA - Read All About It
AQA – Read All About It

We could consider the reading age of a text; consider these readability formulae; if you paste some text to this site, Readability Formulas you can easily check statistics for your chosen text and generate a reading age according to the various tests.

WolframAlpha can be used for Words and Linguistics, note the various examples given, including number names and document length.

Alternatively, try Analyze My Writing. Simply paste in some text for a comprehensive analysis including basic statistics, word and sentence length and readability. It is also possible to create Cloze tests. You can read more about this resource on Richard Byrne’s always impressive “Free Technology for Teachers”.

It seems appropriate to check some world records on books! Did you know that the first collection of crossword puzzles was published in the USA in 1924?

On the subject of books see free books information.

Colin Foster - Instant Maths Ideas
Colin Foster – Instant Maths Ideas

Note in particular Colin Foster’s KS3 Instant Maths Ideas (3 books) – a wealth of ideas you can try in the classroom and now freely available online. Colin Foster is a Reader in  Mathematics Education in the Mathematics Education Centre at Loughborough University.

I tried the text of this post for readability – college level!

Negative Numbers

GCSE Mathematics Subject Content
KS3 Mathematics Subject Content

Students need to be confident in applying the four operations to positive and negative numbers; the image above shows the subject content included in GCSE (age 14-16) Maths specifications. KS3 (age 11-14) students too are required to be fluent with negative numbers.

A look at some resources to develop understanding of operations with positive and negative integers and exercises for practice …

To use the number line as a model for ordering real numbers and also to illustrate operations with negative numbers we can use the excellent PhET simulations, Number Line: Distance, Number Line: Integers, and Number Line: Operations. All are excellent for students to explore.

Create a free teacher account to access further help and information on any PhET resource including a very comprehensive guide to using the resource and suggested lesson activities. See Number Line: Integers and Number Line: Operations.


I’ll mention the ‘sign rules’ here as they cause much confusion and many misconceptions, we need to word these so carefully. In fact, we need some more examples to stress we are talking about adjacent like signs.
Look at -4−-3 and -4−-6 for example.     

MathsBot – Directed Number – MCQ Generator

From Jonathan Hall, on MathsBot, generate all the addition and subtraction multiple-choice questions you want with his brilliant Directed Number MCQ Generator. I really like the option to have questions using counters of varying relative sizes.

MathsBot – Directed Number – MCQ Generator

On Chris McGrane’s Starting Points Maths, check the Negative Numbers category. Several tasks are available.

Starting Points Maths

Graspable Math

We can use Graspable Math to check calculations.


We have numerous activities from Nrich.

Don Steward

From Don Steward we have many wonderful resources, see

Check this excellent post of his suggestions.

Diagnostic Questions

On Craig Barton’s Variation theory, you will find several negative number examples. Also from Craig Barton, try these two Maths Venns and of course Diagnostic Questions where we could search in several ways, but have a look for example at the collections including The Eedi Ultimate Scheme of Work.

N9 Standards Unit – Always true, sometimes true or never true?

From the brilliant Standards Unit, N8, Using directed numbers in context and N9, Evaluating directed number statements.

Colin Foster – KS3 Instant Maths Ideas

Colin Foster’s KS3 Instant Maths Ideas (3 books) are freely available online; these contain a wealth of ideas to try in the classroom. 1.13 in Number and Algebra is on Negative Numbers.

Transum Mathematics
Transum Mathematics

Transum has several activities including basic practice in the four operations.

CIMT Interactive Tutorials

Try the interactive tutorials on CIMT for these quizzes where students can check answers, Addition and Subtraction and Multiplication and Division.

Corbett Maths

Corbett Maths provides us, as always, with videos and many practice examples. Scroll down the list to Negatives for a set of resources.

On Dr Frost Maths, see the KS3 Negative Number resources, note that the downloadable resource (slides which cover the four operations) and the video can be accessed without signing in.

On Mathisfun you will find information on number lines including questions to try, examples and definitions for adding and subtracting positive and negative numbers and examples for multiplying and dividing negative numbers.


I’ll mention the ‘sign rules’ here as they cause much confusion and many misconceptions, we need to word these so carefully. In fact, we need some more examples to stress we are talking about adjacent like signs.
Look at -4−-3 and -4−-6 for example.     

I like the wording here, students are often confused with sign rules when adding and subtracting positive and negative numbers.


A little puzzle and more, TM MathsIcons

I couldn’t agree more with Siân, it’s always a pleasure listening to Simon Singh as it was listening to all the other great presentations at the February TM Maths Icons Conference. An amazing day – thank you so much @TMMathsIcons.

A reminder of Simon Singh’s Parallel and Top-Top Set Maths Project:

Parallel Maths Project – Simon Singh

Not a conventional competition, but to challenge your able mathematicians, try Parallel from Simon Singh. All materials and resources are completely free and teachers will have access to all the student scores from the Parallelograms which are automatically marked.

Students earn points depending on their percentage score on each Parallelogram, which in turn earns mathematical badges. Even before you create an account Even without an account, you can get a taste of what we offer by just clicking on the Parallelograms on the left. Have a look at this parallelogram on Pie Charts and Speed Reading for example.

The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets

The references to Simon’s book The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets was a reminder of all the brilliant Maths hidden in The Simpsons. Information for teachers on the book is available, including a PowerPoint presentation for teachers Simon Singh has created, notes are given with the slides.

It was also a reminder that back in 2014 I was honoured to feature a post featuring answers by Simon Singh to my questions.

I enjoyed all the sessions, including Robert Southern on Graphical Transformations.

My own presentation was on the use of Colour in Mathematics and all the slides and some further links referenced in the slides are available on a dedicated page.

The puzzle at the beginning of the post which apparently Bart got before the rather more nerdy Lisa featured in the episode Lisa the Simpson.

For Valentine’s Day

An annual update, ideas and resources for Valentine’s Day …

From Perton Maths Department, try their Valentine puzzles.

…and Challenge 3.

Desmos – math-o-grams

From Desmos, send one of their great math-o-grams to your mathematical friends!

NASA Valentines
For an alternative source of Valentine’s cards, we can turn to NASA! Take your pick from this recent post, this post or these fabulous NASA images. (And don’t forget that NASA provides us with many Mathematics resources.)

From @OCR_Maths, we could try this puzzle.
OCR Valentine Puzzle
OCR often share some great maths puzzles, look out for them.

Transum Valentine Puzzle
Here’s a Valentine logic starter from Transum.

The excellent Maths Careers site is managed and maintained by the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications. If your students wonder where Mathematics is used they will find plenty of answers here. See for example Who employs mathematicians?  


For Valentine’s day we have an appropriate article from Maths Careers, did you know that 6 is a kissing number?! And for your Further Mathematicians, What is the equation for a heart?


Also from Maths Careers, see this post with instructions on how to make this wonderful pair of linked Möbius hearts.


If you wish to get creative and try this I advise watching the Numberphile video carefully; following the instructions worked as you can see from my creation here! I can verify that unless you follow the instruction to make sure the twist in each strip is in a different direction you will end up with a mess! Quite an interesting mess but certainly not two hearts!….
Note the Desmos graphs on my strips. I created a file in Word valentine-mobius-hearts (or pdf: valentine-mobius-hearts) with Desmos images in a table. Adding dotted borders to the table gives guidelines for cutting. I began each cut by using the end of a paperclip to pierce the paper.

To create my strips I printed the document and then printed again on the reverse. I then cut out and trimmed the strips so there was no white space at the end – the picture here has been made using strips 10 cells long.

Think Maths Parametric Heart

From the MEI Archives, the February 2015 edition of the MEI Monthly Maths Magazine includes some connections between maths and Valentine’s Day. On page 7 note the article “A Happy Ending” which includes references to some Numberphile videos, Professor Ron Graham discusses the Happy Ending Problem and from Dr Emily Riehl, The Stable Marriage Problem. We also have a great Parametric Heart spreadsheet from Think Maths.

This edition of the magazine includes some lovely activities which link paper folding and proof.

This Valentine Relay from Chris Smith is excellent as are all the other relays in this excellent set of resources. You can find more excellent resources from Chris on TES and follow him on Twitter here.valentine-relay

Valentine's Treasure Hunt

From Maths4Everyone, try this Valentine’s Day Maths Treasure Hunt. Students have to work out the costs of gifts, meals and other outings for Valentine’s Day.

You can find a whole collection of Treasure Hunts from Maths4Everyone here.

Also on TES resources, from a favourite TES author of mine, Andy Lutwyche, you will find this Valentine’s card Area and Perimeter problem.


Remaining with the loving theme you can express your feelings for WolframAlpha!

I Love YOU

and from the WolframAlpha archives, Computing Valentine’s Day.

Sending Valentine good wishes to mathematicians everywhere!