Hi friends! I’m back with another book review for R.I.C. Publications. You may remember earlier in the year when I reviewed a few Australian Curriculum-linked resources for them (you can check out that post here). R.I.C. do send these books to me free of charge to review, but all opinions are my own, based on my own classroom experience and the needs of students I’ve taught.
First up I want to talk about the Maths Handbook for Teachers and Parents. This is a new release title from R.I.C. Publications (it was released towards the end of October this year) and retails for $24.95 from their website.
This book is designed to explain (in detail) the content of the Australian Mathematics Curriculum for the Middle, Upper and early High School years of school – from Grades 3-9.
The purpose is to provide teachers (or parents) with the simplest explanation for a content topic, and provide suggestions for ways of tackling maths problems. They include lots of detailed examples including explanations and working out, which is incredibly helpful.
It’s also sorted by content areas – including Number, Geometry, Measurement and Probability.
If you’re someone like me – which translates to ‘okay with maths but not fantastically confident!’ – this is a fabulous resource. The explanations are easy to read, the examples are clear and the layout of the book is great. There’s a really detailed Contents page and Index section which makes it really easy to find what you’re looking for. It’s always really useful to have a book that you can pick up, flip through and find exactly what you need!
Now – you might be thinking, “Hey Stef, you teach Foundation/1, not Grade 3+” and you’re absolutely right! First up, I may not always teach in the early years, but another great feature at the start of this resource book is a little section on Useful Approaches to teaching Mathematics from Foundation to Grade 3. It’s a small section (a double page) but it has some really fantastic, practical, hands-on ideas for teaching maths concepts in a fun and engaging way for students.
This is such a reasonable price for a helpful handbook that you can keep on your classroom shelf and pull out when you need to double check a concept, or find a suggestion for teaching a concept to students who might be really struggling to understand!
The second product I was sent to review is more closely related to the content I teach on a daily basis. Maths Games for the Australian Curriculum is a three-book series for Years 1-4. I was send Book 1 which is meant for students in Years 1 and 2.
These books cover Number concepts, including Operations and Algebraic Thinking, Number and Operations in Base Ten and Number and Operations (Fractions).
Each book has 12 games, plus warm-up activities and differentiation suggestions, along with BLMs to go along with all their games. (Which is a bonus – anything I can copy, laminate and store for easy use in advance makes life so much easier in the long run!)
As with all of their resource books, Maths Games for the Australian Curriculum includes sections on teacher resources (including a bibliography for additional information), curriculum links for all the games and detailed sections for each game that is included.
To give you a feel for the book, the following photos will give you an idea of the layout of this book.
Each game has 4 pages of information that you need for the games. Page one includes the mathematical understanding and skills under practise, the prerequisite skills students need to be able to play the game, the vocabulary used and the materials required (including reference the BLMs at the back of the book or any additional resources you might need) for the warm-ups or the game.
Page two features Warm Ups which can be used in advance of the game to prepare students for the content of the main game.
I love this feature, because at my school we have a school-wide planner and maths lesson protocol where we begin every lesson with a number fluency task or game. These warm-ups are fabulous for that – they’re short, easy to implement and there are multiple options giving you a huge range to choose from. All the directions are very clear and concise.
Page three features the explanation of the game, the object (which is great for those of us who need to include learning intentions) and the details for how to play the Main Game – which in the photo example is Fast Facts. If there are any variations that you can run, they’re also featured here.
Page three for this particular game includes differentiated tasks, including options for students who require more support and those who need extension or a challenge.
Finally, they also have conversation starters/questions aimed at helping students articulate their understanding as well as links to the mathematical capabilities students are showing through their explanations.
All of the materials required are included at the back of the book and can be copied for your classroom needs. There’s no need to run around and find things in the classroom which makes this very practical to use. All of the BLMs are very clear and uncluttered (which is great for students who just need to focus on the task, not the intricate design details of teaching resources).
This resource book is $37.95 on the R.I.C. website and if you’re looking for a collection of great maths games for centres or to reinforce a number concept, definitely check out this book.
The last few items I was sent to look at were review copies/samples of some of their other mathematics resources.
The first one is Starting Point Mathematics which is a test assessment booklet (similar to the English Skills Practise assessment booklets I reviewed last time). These are very brightly coloured, don’t look like traditional tests, but give a really good overview of a student’s understanding on various mathematical topics. They’re designed to be quick (administered in short 10-20minute bursts) making them easy to mark and record. They also have a great area for student self reflection at the start – it’s a great way to get some insight into how students feel about the work they’re doing.
These would make great pre- or post-tests for topics you’re covering in your classroom.
There are booklets for Years 2 to 6, and are $16.25 for a pack of 5, or $32.50 for a pack of 10 booklets and will be released later this term!
Lastly, I was sent some trail booklets for New Wave Mental Maths to coincide with the recent release of Book A (appropriate for 5-6 year olds) in the series. The new release is bright and colourful and would definitely engage younger learners moving from an informal activity structure to a more formal one as the year progresses. As the books go up in difficulty (Book B onwards) they look more like the English Skills Practise assessment booklets.
These are daily assessment tasks that could be completed at the beginning or end of a lesson (and would make a good warm up task), with between 4-20 questions based on the difficulty level of the booklet. There’s a neat tracking calendar for results in the student booklets and would be a nice way to quickly see how students are handling different mathematical topics.
Alternatively these would be ideal for morning work or early finishers.
If you’re interested in New Wave Mental Maths, you can download a free two week sample of each booklet from their website. Each book is worth $11.95 and includes activities for each day/week of the year.
I hope this has given you a bit of an idea of what’s out there for maths resources. I know I can never have too many to call on when teaching and it’s great for students to have a range of activities to complete on any given topic. For more information on other resources by R.I.C. Publications, check out their website, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts!