Transum Maths Software

Mental Methods

There are 366 different Starters of The Day, many to choose from. You will find in the left column below some starters on the topic of Mental Methods. In the right column below are links to related online activities, videos and teacher resources.

A lesson starter does not have to be on the same topic as the main part of the lesson or the topic of the previous lesson. It is often very useful to revise or explore other concepts by using a starter based on a totally different area of Mathematics.

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Mental Methods Starters:

Abundant Buses: A game based around the concept of abundant numbers.

Add Quickulations: Calculations appear on the screen every 10 seconds. This mental arithmetic starter provides pace to the start of the Maths lesson.

Ancient Mysteries: This activity requires students to memorise fifteen numbers in a three by five grid.

Countdown: How close can you get to the target by making a calculation out of the five numbers given?

Division Quickulations: Random divisions calculations appear on screen every ten seconds.

Eleventh of the Eleventh: Practise multiplying and dividing by eleven in your head.

Family Buses: Fit families onto eleven seater buses without splitting up the families.

Flabbergasted: If each number in a sequence must be a factor or multiple of the previous number what is the longest sequence that can be made from the given numbers?

Four Factors: Find four single digit numbers that multiply together to give 120. How many different ways are there of answering this question?

Four to Seven: Which of the numbers from one to twenty can you make with the digits 4, 5, 6 and 7?

Fractions Decimals Percentages: Convert fractions to decimals, decimals to percentages and percentages to fractions.

Just In Time: Calculations appear on the screen every 10 seconds.

Know Your Place: Without a calculator perform some calculations requiring a knowledge of place value.

Mental Test 9: A traditional twenty question mental arithmetic test presented as a PowerPoint presentation.

Mult Sum Diff Div: For each pair of numbers multiply the sum by the difference then divide the answer by 5.

Multiply Quickulations: Random multiplications appear on screen every ten seconds.

Multiply, Add, Subtract and Divide: For each pair of numbers subtract the sum from the product then divide the result by 20 without a calculator.

No Partner: Find which numbers in a given list do not combine with other numbers on the list to make a given sum.

Outnumbered: Which group of four numbers, arranged in a square, has the largest total?

PercenTable: Complete the table by calculating common percentages without using a calculator.

Positions Please: Stand at the point between the classroom walls to represent a given number.

Quick: Develop a quick way of multiplying by 1001.

Six Discrimination: An activity involving a calculator which is missing the six button. Can you evaluate the given expressions without using the six?

Strange Tables: A challenge to learn an unfamiliar times table involving decimals.

Subtract Quickulations: Calculations appear on the screen every 10 seconds.

Suko: Interactive number-based logic puzzle similar to those featuring in The Times and Telegraph newspapers.

Table Legs: Learn an unusual times table from the strategic finger moving up and down the 'Table Leg'!

Table Spiders: Multiply the number on the spider's back by the numbers next to its legs.

Take Sides: Put up your right hand or left hand depending on the expressions that appears.

Team Age: Work out who is in which team from the information given.

Timed Tables: How fast can you answer 24 mixed times tables questions?

Triple Totals: Complete the sums using only the given numbers then check your calculations are correct.

Triplets: Find as many sets of three of the available numbers as possible which add up to the given total.

Tutu 5!: Which of the numbers from 1 to 20 can you make with the digits: 2, 3, 4 and 5?


Complete Index of Starters

Featured Activity

Dominoes Puzzle

Dominoes Puzzle

A wonderful puzzle involving all 28 pieces from a set of dominoes. Can they be arranged in seven squares such that the number of dots along the sides of the squares are equal to the given totals?



Comment recorded on the 1 February 'Starter of the Day' page by M Chant, Chase Lane School Harwich:

"My year five children look forward to their daily challenge and enjoy the problems as much as I do. A great resource - thanks a million."

Comment recorded on the 23 September 'Starter of the Day' page by Judy, Chatsmore CHS:

"This triangle starter is excellent. I have used it with all of my ks3 and ks4 classes and they are all totally focused when counting the triangles."

Comment recorded on the 2 May 'Starter of the Day' page by Angela Lowry, :

"I think these are great! So useful and handy, the children love them.
Could we have some on angles too please?"

Comment recorded on the 1 February 'Starter of the Day' page by Terry Shaw, Beaulieu Convent School:

"Really good site. Lots of good ideas for starters. Use it most of the time in KS3."

Comment recorded on the 12 July 'Starter of the Day' page by Miss J Key, Farlingaye High School, Suffolk:

"Thanks very much for this one. We developed it into a whole lesson and I borrowed some hats from the drama department to add to the fun!"

Comment recorded on the 6 May 'Starter of the Day' page by Natalie, London:

"I am thankful for providing such wonderful starters. They are of immence help and the students enjoy them very much. These starters have saved my time and have made my lessons enjoyable."

Comment recorded on the 3 October 'Starter of the Day' page by S Mirza, Park High School, Colne:

"Very good starters, help pupils settle very well in maths classroom."

Comment recorded on the 10 April 'Starter of the Day' page by Mike Sendrove, Salt Grammar School, UK.:

"A really useful set of resources - thanks. Is the collection available on CD? Are solutions available?"

Comment recorded on the 25 June 'Starter of the Day' page by Inger.kisby@herts and, :

"We all love your starters. It is so good to have such a collection. We use them for all age groups and abilities. Have particularly enjoyed KIM's game, as we have not used that for Mathematics before. Keep up the good work and thank you very much
Best wishes from Inger Kisby"

Comment recorded on the 26 March 'Starter of the Day' page by Julie Reakes, The English College, Dubai:

"It's great to have a starter that's timed and focuses the attention of everyone fully. I told them in advance I would do 10 then record their percentages."

Comment recorded on the 28 May 'Starter of the Day' page by L Smith, Colwyn Bay:

"An absolutely brilliant resource. Only recently been discovered but is used daily with all my classes. It is particularly useful when things can be saved for further use. Thank you!"

Comment recorded on the 21 October 'Starter of the Day' page by Mr Trainor And His P7 Class(All Girls), Mercy Primary School, Belfast:

"My Primary 7 class in Mercy Primary school, Belfast, look forward to your mental maths starters every morning. The variety of material is interesting and exciting and always engages the teacher and pupils. Keep them coming please."

Comment recorded on the 3 October 'Starter of the Day' page by Fiona Bray, Cams Hill School:

"This is an excellent website. We all often use the starters as the pupils come in the door and get settled as we take the register."

Comment recorded on the 9 October 'Starter of the Day' page by Mr Jones, Wales:

"I think that having a starter of the day helps improve maths in general. My pupils say they love them!!!"

Comment recorded on the 7 December 'Starter of the Day' page by Cathryn Aldridge, Pells Primary:

"I use Starter of the Day as a registration and warm-up activity for my Year 6 class. The range of questioning provided is excellent as are some of the images.
I rate this site as a 5!"

Comment recorded on the 10 April 'Starter of the Day' page by Transum, :

"Sorry Mike, because some of the starters link to live data on the Internet there is no CD version. Thanks for your comments."

Comment recorded on the 3 October 'Starter of the Day' page by Mrs Johnstone, 7Je:

"I think this is a brilliant website as all the students enjoy doing the puzzles and it is a brilliant way to start a lesson."


Though using pencil and paper are as useful as having up-to-date technology skills, there is no substitute for strategic mental methods for working out calculations and solving problems. The activities in this topic are designed to improve pupils' abilities to use their brains.

Calculating 'in your head' can be a difficult task. If you cannot remember what you have worked out or simply do not know how to solve a problem then it can be very challenging and frustrating. It is important to learn and practise mental arithmetic and using mathematical patterns, you can dramatically improve the speed and accuracy of your mental mathematics.

See also the Arithmetic topic and our Number Skills Inventory.

Mental Methods Teacher Resources:

Flash Tables: A never ending sequence of times tables questions to be projected on to a whiteboard or screen.

Just In Time: Every 10 seconds a new calculation appears on the screen: A dynamic visual aid.

Percentages: Practise calculating simple percentages in your head with this animated visual aid.

Pesto: Students classify numbers randomly appearing on the screen by holding up cards

Playing Card Maths: Imagine you are on a desert island with nothing but a pack of playing cards. Do you have to stop learning mathematics?

Quickulations: Can you do the calculations before the answers appear?

Mental Methods Activities:

Beat The Clock: It is a race against the clock to answer 30 mental arithmetic questions. There are nine levels to choose from.

Chain Challenge: How fast can you perform all of the given operations without using a calculator?

Digivide: Arrange the numbers from 1 to 6 in the spaces to make the calculation correct.

Divisibility Test: Practise using the quick ways to spot whether a number is divisible by the digits 2 to 9.

Dump-A-Dice Race: An online board game for two players involving prime and square numbers and making choices.

Eleven In Your Head: Multiply numbers by eleven in your head.

Estimation Golf: Play a round of golf using your estimation skills rather than golf clubs.

Fast Factors: How quickly can you arrange the cards to match the times tables?

Know Your Place: Without a calculator perform some calculations requiring a knowledge of place value.

Make 1000: Use the numbers on the strange calculator to make a total of 1000

Masad: For each pair of numbers subtract the sum from the product then divide the result by 20 without a calculator.

Mixpressions: Arrange the cards to create a valid mathematical statement.

Nine Nine Nine: Use the digits 1 to 9 to make three 3 digit numbers which add up to 999.

Number Crunch Saga: A lively numeracy game requiring you to align three numbers to create the given target sum or product.

Number Skills Inventory: A checklist of basic numeracy techniques that every pupil should know.

Numskull: Interactive, randomly-generated, number-based logic puzzle designed to develop numeracy skills.

Pairs 240: Find the pairs of numbers that multiply together to give a product of 240

Pairs Eleven: Find pairs of playing cards of the same suit which add up to eleven.

Pairs Twenty One: Find the pairs of numbers that add up to 21.

Quick: Can you multiply a number by 1001 in your head? This exercise provides practice in this and other similar challenges.

Stamp Sticking: Drag stamps onto the envelopes to make the exact postage as shown at the top left of each envelope.

Strategy Games: Strategy games that requires some mental arithmetic or some logic.

Sum Game: A game against the clock to find the numbers which add up to the target number.

TablesMaster: How fast can you answer times table questions? This activity provides feedback to help you improve.

Three Ways: Find three different ways of multiplying four different digits together to get the given target number. There are nine levels for this online challenge.

Mental Methods Videos:

Maths Fact Fluency: A four-step process for taking pupils on the path from acquisition to automaticity

Nine Times Fingers: Learn your 9 times table fast using your fingers!

Mental Methods External Links:

Links to other websites containing resources for Mental Methods are provided for teachers logged into 'Class Admin'. Subscribing to this service also opens up the opportunity for you to add your own links to this panel.


The activity you are looking for may have been classified in a different way from the way you were expecting. You can search the whole of Transum Maths by using the Google 'Custom Search' box below.






Is there anything you would have a regular use for that we don't feature here? Please let us know.


Scheduling Puzzle

Scheduling Puzzle

Make a schedule for the 24-hour Darts Marathon which will keep everyone happy!. So far this activity has been accessed 146 times and only 1 person has earned a Transum Trophy for completing it.



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