Wednesday, 14 May 2014

KenKen - Mental Maths Brilliance!

Although it may look like just another Sodoku spin-off, don't be fooled! Kenken is a serious mental maths workout. Ok, so the example given above is it little simple, but you need to start simple to learn. 

The rules:
  1. The numbers you can use in a puzzle depend on the size of the grid. If it’s a 3 x 3 grid, you’ll use the numbers 1–3. In a 4 x 4 grid, use numbers 1–4. In a 5 x 5 grid… well, you can probably figure it out from there.
  2. The heavily-outlined groups of squares in each grid are called “cages.” In the upper-left corner of each cage, there is a “target number” and a math operation (+, –, x, ÷).
  3. Fill in each square of a cage with a number. The numbers in a cage must combine—in any order, using only that cage’s math operation—to form that cage’s target number.
    Example: Your target number is 5, your operation is addition, you’re using the numbers 1–4, and the cage is made up of two squares. You could fill in 2 and 3 (because 2 + 3 = 5) or 1 and 4 (1 + 4 = 5). But which number goes in which square? Read the next instruction!
  4. Important: You may not repeat a number in any row or column. You can repeat a number within a cage, as long as those repeated numbers are not in the same row or column.

This is fantastic to use as a mental maths starter. You can get as many different difficulties as you like from the KenKen site. Try getting year 6 to work up to solving something like this...

...and in the process enjoy the benefits of having a games-rich classroom.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Garage Band (iPad)

GarageBand is incredible. For a few of your finest pound sterling you get a fully fledged recording suite with a whole host of instruments and a bank of preset sounds. And the children love it. What are you waiting for?

Some songs sound like they were made on an iPad using Garage Band. Others can be mimicked incredibly easy. I'm always on the look out for these types of songs as they are great fun to use with children in school. The children get a (at times instant) feeling of accomplishment as the iPad does the hard part for you. This makes it a great tool to practice the art of performance and, as you get more skilled, composition.

I've uploaded some slides I made for you to have a look at. You can get theme here through google drive or here through the TES resources site (if you use TES you'll get the tracks embedded to play along with). 

They cover the songs 'Don't Stop Believing', 'I'm a Believer' and 'Smoke On The Water'. All you need to know is that for 'Don't Stop Believing' you need the smart keyboard, on Grand Piano, autoplay #1 at 100bpm. 

Apart from that, listen to the tracks, work out the drum beats (or a simplified version), master the guitar and bass riffs and have a great time with the children performing some anthems!

Other songs that work well but that I haven't created resources for:
And If you're feeling really bold try these (I haven't yet):
As you can probably tell, my method for finding songs that 'work' in GarageBand is to get on youtube and have a good look around.

Combine lessons spent on these songs with discussion and analysis of the musical elements we need to cover (pitch, dynamics, tempo, attack & decay, timbre, texture, silence, duration) and you'll end up with some great music lessons.

In my class, after we'd perfected a couple of songs I asked the children to experiment and make their own cover version by changing any musical elements along with instruments. We worked out pretty quickly that a nice soothing cover is possibly by using strings and acoustic guitar. How you record this process is up to you/your children but you can be very creative.

I also played around with class structure, moving from experimenting in groups to working pairs to introduce them to the basics of multi-track recording. You'll be surprised with what they come up with, I guarantee it.