Two gifts from me to you, lovely people who read my blog!

Hello everyone!  I am feeling slightly manic this week, as I have started my MA in Educational Assessment at UCL on top of earning enough money through teaching to stay alive.  It's all very exciting.

Image result for busy busy
My calendar right now.

Anyway, we are all life-long learners here and we are all time-poor so I thought I would share a couple of game ideas that you can use at home, in the classroom, in your cosy space with the gentle wallpaper (it's NOT a padded room)...  One for maths and one for English.

Let's begin with the English, shall we?

This is a twist on an old meme, really.  My wife and I were WhatsApp-ing the other day (we are a professional couple; this is how we communicate - don't judge!) and she mentioned that Cinderella, played backwards is the tragic story of a princess who loses everything after making a deal with a cruel fairy.

So this got me thinking, instead of re-writing traditional tales as newspaper articles or diary entries, why not flip them around and write them backwards?  There are some excellent examples on Reddit here.  I think it's a really fun idea and I bet there is at least a week of solid writing, discussion and drama; maybe even two.

If you try this and end up with some great examples, I'd love to read them!  Please send them to me (!  It'll be great to curate a selection online to inspire other classes.

So that's English, now for maths (I'm very excited about this)...

I have invented a game!  It's a fun card game that uses arithmetic to attack and destroy your opponent's defences.  It can be played with 2-4 players (you could play with more if you have multiple decks of cards) and is good for any age because players differentiate based on their ability.  It can even be played in teams, encouraging discussion and explanation of arithmetical ideas.

Battle Maths!

This is a competitive maths game for two people to test their skills at manipulating numbers by using basic arithmetic to outsmart their opponent and destroy their castle!

You will need:

1 x deck of playing cards
1 x piece of paper or whiteboard for each player

The aim of the game is to battle through your opponent’s defences and destroy their shields by creating number sentences using the cards in your hand.

How to play

The set up:
  • First, sort the deck into black and red cards.  Each player takes one colour set. If playing with four players, sort into suits.
  • Each player is dealt three ‘shield’ cards.  These are placed face-down in front of the player.
  • Each player is then dealt five cards which they can look at.  These form the player's hand.
  • The remaining cards are placed face-down on the draw pile.
  • Make sure you have enough space for a discard pile.
  • In this game, An Ace is  1, and a Jack is 0 (very important place-holder!)
  • Queens and Kings are operator cards and can be used as +, x, - or ÷.
How to play:
  • The person who went to the bathroom most recently gets to go first.
  • Take the top two cards from your draw pile.
  • Using the cards in your hand, you have to create a number sentence.  Place the cards into the Active Area and explain your number sentence to your opponent (it is a good idea to write the number sentences down as well).
  • If you manage to create a valid number sentence, you get to turn over one of your opponents three shield cards, ‘breaking’ it and leaving their defences vulnerable to attack.
  • Place all used cards in the discard pile, your turn is now over.
  • If you use all of your cards, take the top card from the draw pile and place it as an extra shield.  Then draw a bonus three from the draw pile before your turn is over.
  • If you cannot make a valid number sentence, your turn is over.
  • When the draw pile is empty, shuffle the discard pile and use it as the draw pile.
Winning the game:
  • When all the shield cards have been ‘broken’ you can begin to remove them completely.  
  • To remove a shield card, you must use it in one of your number sentences.
  • The ‘broken’ shield card can make up any part of your number sentence, including part of a compound number.
  • You can only use one ‘broken’  shield card per round.
  • Once used in a number sentence, the shield card is placed in the discard pile with the other cards. 
  • When a player loses all three shield cards, they lose the game.

Restoring shields:
If a shield card has been broken, you can choose to ‘fix’ it by: 
  • During your turn, create a successful number sentence, using the shield card you wish to fix.
  • Turn the shield card used in the number sentence back over (instead of attacking your opponent).
  • This ends your turn.
  • You can fix a broken shield at any point in the game. 
You can only fix a broken shield.  You cannot replace a lost one.


My hand:






I begin my go by drawing 2 extra cards:

From this hand, I can make the following number sentence:

9 + 3 = 5 + 7  [ 9 K 3 = 5 Q 7 - remember, the King and Queen are operators]

This is a valid number sentence so I can break one of my opponent’s shield cards by turning it over.

I then discard the cards I used and am left with:


It is now my opponent’s go.

Remember to draw two extra cards at the beginning of your turn!

Removing a broken shield:

My hand (after drawing two to begin the turn):


Opponent’s Shield Cards


I can make the following number sentence:

8 ÷ 8 = 1  [8 Q 8 = A]

These cards are discarded and turn ends looking like this:
My hand (after drawing two to begin the turn):


Opponent’s Shield Cards

This shield is now destroyed and can never be fixed!

I've trialled this game with children aged from 6 all the way up to 15 (and some of them have gone on to teach their parents), so it definitely works for all ages.  It's really fun.  It's a great way to reinforce arithmetic.  Please use it and let me know what you think.  I'm looking into having it manufactured and made all pretty, but that's a while away and I wanted to share it now.

Thank-you so much for reading these posts.  I have no idea who any of you are (feel free to tell me in the comments below!) but I really appreciate it.  Have a great week and keep smiling - you never know who needs to see it!

Carl Headley-Morris