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This newish 35-page children's magazine is based on the BBC programme of the same name. It aims to make maths fun and help parents to help their children with the essential elements of the National Numeracy Strategy. It is targeted at the 5-7-age range, in other words Key Stage One. My 4 year old can attempt most of the activities with help, on the other hand my 7 year old can tackle a lot of the activities with little or no guidance. A two-page guide for parents is included at the back of the magazine. These notes are grouped into four sections, Mission Bernie, Everyday Maths, Tips and Tricks, and Let's Do It. Each activity in the magazine comes under one of these headings. The guide is very comprehensive, it tells you what your child will gain from the activity as well as how to help your child with it. I can't help but feel that these guidelines would serve their purpose better if they were on the same page as the activity. It is a pain to have to refer to the back page when your child is trying to look at a different page; it creates tension and therefore lessens the enjoyment. Some of the activities included in the February issue are: * El Nombre's Super Short Cut * An entertaining way to learn the 2x tables. El Nombre (a little Mexican Chipmunk type animal) shows how once you know how to double numbers you can do other sums. E.g. 9+10=2x10-1. The instructions are easy to follow; guidance will probably be needed to explain the concept. * What Makes 10? * Fill in the spaces in the sums so that the answers equal ten, then make up some sums of your own. Again this is easy to understand, older children will need little or no help, younger children will manage this with assistance. You can even win a prize if you send in your sums. It doesn't say what the prize is exactly but I presume it is two board games. * Busy Day * This is a game; to play you
will need a dice and a counter for each player. As you go round the 'board' there are questions that you need to answer to proceed. E.g. Stop at the market. Buy 2 bananas at 3p each. How much change do you get from 10p? We all played this game but I asked Kyle (4) easier questions and let him have 10 buttons to help him work out the answers. They did enjoy playing it and wanted to play again. * Mission Bernie * It's Bills birthday and Bernie needs to collect six golden candles. When all six are collected you will be able to solve the secret code word. To collect the candles you will need to work out the answers to six puzzles. In this issue all of the puzzles relate to weights and measures. As a example, one of the puzzles has four shopping lists with ingredients on, you need to find the list whose ingredients add up to 350g. That list's number is then put in the space provided. When all 6 numbers have been found you can use the decoder to reveal the secret word. If you send this secret word in on a postcard you could win a set of 6 educational books. Most children will need help with these activities; Matthew found it quite confusing and needed me to tell him what was expected of him. Each month the magazine has a freebie attached to it. February's is a chunky pen. On the inside cover is an activity to 'do with your free pen'. The only complaint that I have is that there is only one pen, so my boy's had a fight over it. I suppose I had better resign myself to buying two magazines next month. At £1.75 a copy I don't think we will go bankrupt - not yet anyway! Children like familiarity so the fact that the characters in this magazine can be seen on the TV is an added bonus. The programmes are on as follows: El Nombre on CBBC Wednesday 3.45 - 3.50pm Numbertime on BBC2 Monday 11.05 - 11.20am Tuesday 11.15 - 11.30am (repeated on Thursd
ay) Wednesday 11.05 - 11.20 Thursday 11.15 - 11.30am Friday 11.05 - 11.20am Like the Literacy based Magazine 'The Magic Key' this is visually stimulating and it certainly fulfils it's aim of making maths fun.