Transum Maths Software

Using A Calculator

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 Using A Calculator. 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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Using A Calculator Starters:

Big Order: Estimate or calculate then put the large numbers in order of size.

Breathe Easily: How many breaths have you taken in your lifetime?

Broken Calculator: Use only the 1, 5 and 0 keys on a calculator to make given totals.

Broken Calculator (3 and 4): Some keys are missing from this calculator. Just how useful is it?

Calc-A-Hundred: A game for two players requiring a calculator and thinking skills.

Calculator Nim: A game in which players take turns to add a single-digit number to what is already in the calculator. The winner is the player who makes the display show 30.

Digital Lights: Questions about the Small LEDs used to make up the digits on a calculator display.

Divided Age: How old is a person if when her age is divided by certain numbers, the calculator display ending are as shown.

Faulty Button: Find out which of the calculator keys is faulty from the given information. A mathematical puzzle requiring good problem solving strategies.

Four Gone: An activity involving a broken calculator which is missing the four button. Can you evaluate the given expressions without using the four?

Inbetweens: Find fractions between two given values.

Noodlewhack: Divide one whole number by another on your calculator. If the answer has one digit repeated but no other digits you have a Noodlewhack.

Only One Number: Find other numbers that can be changed to 1 on a calculator using only the 4 key and any operation.

Recurring Decimal: Use your calculator to find which whole number divided by another whole number gives the answer 1.36363636

Render Digitful: Find a calculation for the current year which uses all of the digits 1 to 9.

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

Six Keys: Use just six calculator keys to make a total of 20. In how many different ways can it be done?

Top Transfer: Beginning with 100 on your calculator, what is the largest and smallest totals you can end up with after travelling through each of the possible routes.


Small images of these Starters | | |  Complete Index of Starters

Featured Activity

Striped Sweets

Striped Sweets

Colour the sweet wrappers so that no two are the same. A multi-level activity designed to encourage a systematic strategy for finding all of the different permutations.



Comment recorded on the 16 March 'Starter of the Day' page by Mrs A Milton, Ysgol Ardudwy:

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"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 19 November 'Starter of the Day' page by Lesley Sewell, Ysgol Aberconwy, Wales:

"A Maths colleague introduced me to your web site and I love to use it. The questions are so varied I can use them with all of my classes, I even let year 13 have a go at some of them. I like being able to access the whole month so I can use favourites with classes I see at different times of the week. Thanks."

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

Comment recorded on the 17 November 'Starter of the Day' page by Amy Thay, Coventry:

"Thank you so much for your wonderful site. I have so much material to use in class and inspire me to try something a little different more often. I am going to show my maths department your website and encourage them to use it too. How lovely that you have compiled such a great resource to help teachers and pupils.
Thanks again"

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Keep it up and thank you!"

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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 17 June 'Starter of the Day' page by Mr Hall, Light Hall School, Solihull:

"Dear Transum,

I love you website I use it every maths lesson I have with every year group! I don't know were I would turn to with out you!"

Comment recorded on the 19 June 'Starter of the Day' page by Nikki Jordan, Braunton School, Devon:

"Excellent. Thank you very much for a fabulous set of starters. I use the 'weekenders' if the daily ones are not quite what I want. Brilliant and much appreciated."

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"3 NQTs in the department, I'm new subject leader in this new academy - Starters R Great!! Lovely resource for stimulating learning and getting eveyone off to a good start. Thank you!!"

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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 19 October 'Starter of the Day' page by E Pollard, Huddersfield:

"I used this with my bottom set in year 9. To engage them I used their name and favorite football team (or pop group) instead of the school name. For homework, I asked each student to find a definition for the key words they had been given (once they had fun trying to guess the answer) and they presented their findings to the rest of the class the following day. They felt really special because the key words came from their own personal information."


All pupils should learn to calculate accurately, selecting mental methods or calculating devices as appropriate. Pupils, through practice, should learn to use the most appropriate method to perform a calculation. It is appropriate for them to use a calculator when performing a calculation without a calculator will take an inappropriate amount of time.

In addition to simply finding answers, calculators provide a fascinating opportunity for pupils to investigate number patterns, properties and relationships. They can easily use a calculator to learn more about Mathematics through open ended explorations, games and puzzles.

On this website you can find activities which help pupils practise calculator skills and become more familiar with this essential tool whether it be basic, scientific or a graphic display calculator (GDC).

To specifically practise using a GDC there is nothing better than our Exam-Style Questions which include worked solutions, many of which contain screen shots of the TI-nSpire GDC.

Using A Calculator Teacher Resources:

Calculator Workout: An animated guide to using a scientific calculator for Secondary and High School students.

Compound Interest Calculator: A customised online calculator for quickly finding the solutions to compound interest problems.

Normal Distribution Calculator: A customised online calculator for quickly finding areas under the normal distribution curve.

Triangle Solver: Provide and three measurements for a triangle and this application will work out the remaining sides, angles and area.

Using A Calculator Activities:

BIDMAS: A self marking exercise testing the application of BIDMAS, an acronym describing the order of operations used when evaluating expressions.

Broken Calculator: Some of the buttons are missing from this calculator. Can you make the totals from 1 to 20?

Calculator Words: Turn your calculator upside down to make words out of the answers to these questions.

Calculator Workout: An animated guide to using a scientific calculator for Secondary and High School students.

Consecutive Numbers: Find the consective numbers that are added or multiplied to give the given totals

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

Make an expression: Use the digits given to form an expression equivalent to the given total.

Six Discrimination: The six button has dropped off! How could these calculations be done using this calculator?

Six Keys: Use just six keys on your calculator to make a given total. How many different ways can it be done?

Using A Calculator: Questions to test your ability to use a basic calculator, scientific calculator and a graphic display calculator.

Using A Calculator Videos:

TI-Nspire CX CAS overview: This is a PowerPoint introduction used to give teachers an overview of the TI-Nspire.

Time calculations on a calculator: Time Calculations using Casio Calculator using the Degrees, Minutes and Seconds button.

Using a Calculator: Want to know how to use your scientific calculator? We thought this might be useful - here's an easy to follow, step by step guide.

Using A Calculator Worksheets/Printables:

Calculator Workout Record: A printable sheet on which pupils can make notes and keep a record of the calculator skills they learn.

Using A Calculator External Links:

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