The North Pole Test

It is very cold at the North Pole, so cold that your brain could stop working.

Show that your brain is working well right now by writing out the 87 times table.

How far can you get in five minutes?


North Pole
87 miles   

Try this activity again when you are feeling cold. Can you get as far in five minutes?


A Chilling Mathematics Lesson Starter Of The Day


Topics: Starter | Tables | Xmas

You can find many more ChristMaths activities at:


  • Primary 6 & Mrs Thom, Netherlee PS
  • In five minutes, our primary 6 class managed to get the first 16 stations correct. We felt that it was tricky but a lot of fun. Some were frustrated that if they got one answer wrong then every other answer was also wrong.

    We really enjoyed today's challenge!
  • Matthew, 3D, Craigslea State School
  • I got up to the 29th station in 5 minutes.
    It was fun!
  • Katee Wheeler, ------
  • This starter has some potential and is very helpful and interesting for developing Mathematical skills.
  • Debbie, Guernsey
  • Very absorbing activity! One of my Y5s managed up to 49 x 44 in 5 minutes.

    [Transum: If are reading this comment and wondering why it refers to the 44 times table while you have been presented with another times table it is because a different number appears every time this page is loaded.]
  • Transum,
  • Yes, the cold can really affect your brain in a negative way. Perhaps a chilly day where you live won’t make a big difference but for really cold environments there have been studies which have found that mental changes (reflecting a cooling brain) are the first sign of hypothermia. The tell-tale signs include becoming withdrawn, slower movements, poor coordination, hallucinations, slurred speech, poor memory and eventually loss of consciousness.

How did you use this starter? Can you suggest how teachers could present or develop this resource? Do you have any comments? It is always useful to receive feedback and helps make this free resource even more useful for Maths teachers anywhere in the world.
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This starter has scored a mean of 3.0 out of 5 based on 167 votes.

Previous Day | This starter is for 17 December | Next Day



1 x 87 = 87
2 x 87 = 174
3 x 87 = 261
4 x 87 = 348
5 x 87 = 435
6 x 87 = 522
7 x 87 = 609
8 x 87 = 696
9 x 87 = 783
10 x 87 = 870
11 x 87 = 957
12 x 87 = 1044
13 x 87 = 1131
14 x 87 = 1218
15 x 87 = 1305
16 x 87 = 1392
17 x 87 = 1479
18 x 87 = 1566
19 x 87 = 1653
20 x 87 = 1740
21 x 87 = 1827
22 x 87 = 1914
23 x 87 = 2001
24 x 87 = 2088
25 x 87 = 2175
26 x 87 = 2262
27 x 87 = 2349
28 x 87 = 2436
29 x 87 = 2523
30 x 87 = 2610
31 x 87 = 2697
32 x 87 = 2784
33 x 87 = 2871
34 x 87 = 2958
35 x 87 = 3045
36 x 87 = 3132
37 x 87 = 3219
38 x 87 = 3306
39 x 87 = 3393
40 x 87 = 3480
41 x 87 = 3567
42 x 87 = 3654
43 x 87 = 3741
44 x 87 = 3828
45 x 87 = 3915
46 x 87 = 4002
47 x 87 = 4089
48 x 87 = 4176
49 x 87 = 4263
50 x 87 = 4350
51 x 87 = 4437
52 x 87 = 4524
53 x 87 = 4611
54 x 87 = 4698
55 x 87 = 4785
56 x 87 = 4872
57 x 87 = 4959
58 x 87 = 5046
59 x 87 = 5133
60 x 87 = 5220
61 x 87 = 5307
62 x 87 = 5394
63 x 87 = 5481
64 x 87 = 5568
65 x 87 = 5655
66 x 87 = 5742
67 x 87 = 5829
68 x 87 = 5916
69 x 87 = 6003
70 x 87 = 6090
71 x 87 = 6177
72 x 87 = 6264
73 x 87 = 6351
74 x 87 = 6438
75 x 87 = 6525
76 x 87 = 6612
77 x 87 = 6699
78 x 87 = 6786
79 x 87 = 6873
80 x 87 = 6960
81 x 87 = 7047
82 x 87 = 7134
83 x 87 = 7221
84 x 87 = 7308
85 x 87 = 7395
86 x 87 = 7482
87 x 87 = 7569
88 x 87 = 7656
89 x 87 = 7743
90 x 87 = 7830
91 x 87 = 7917
92 x 87 = 8004
93 x 87 = 8091
94 x 87 = 8178
95 x 87 = 8265
96 x 87 = 8352
97 x 87 = 8439
98 x 87 = 8526
99 x 87 = 8613
100 x 87 = 8700

Note to teacher: Doing this activity once with a class helps students develop strategies. It is only when they do this activity a second time that they will have the opportunity to practise those strategies. That is when the learning is consolidated. Click the button above to regenerate another version of this starter from random numbers.

There are a printable worksheets for the more common timestables.


Christmas Present Ideas

It is often very difficult choosing Christmas presents for family and friends but so here are some seasonal, mathematics-related gifts chosen and recommended by Transum Mathematics.

Equate board game

Here's a great board game that will give any family with school-aged kids hours of worthwhile fun. Christmas is a time for board games but this one will still be useful at any time of year. Games can be adapted to suit many levels of Mathematical ability.

For Maths tutors working with just one or small groups of pupils this game has proved to be an excellent activity for a tutorial. Deciding on the best moves can spark pertinent discussions about mathematical concepts.

Equate looks a bit like Scrabble--for aspiring mathematicians, that is. Designed by a real mathematician, it works like this: You put down tiles on a board and make points by correctly completing simple equations. Your nine tiles include both numbers and mathematical symbols; you can add on to previous plays both vertically and horizontally. more...

How Not To Be Wrong

The maths we learn in school can seem like an abstract set of rules, laid down by the ancients and not to be questioned. In fact, Jordan Ellenberg shows us, maths touches on everything we do, and a little mathematical knowledge reveals the hidden structures that lie beneath the world's messy and chaotic surface. In How Not to be Wrong, Ellenberg explores the mathematician's method of analyzing life, from the everyday to the cosmic, showing us which numbers to defend, which ones to ignore, and when to change the equation entirely. Along the way, he explains calculus in a single page, describes Gödel's theorem using only one-syllable words, and reveals how early you actually need to get to the airport.

What more could the inquisitive adult want for Christmas? This book makes a cosy, interesting read in front of the fire on those cold winter evenings. more...

Graphic Display Calculator

This handheld device and companion software are designed to generate opportunities for classroom exploration and to promote greater understanding of core concepts in the mathematics and science classroom. TI-Nspire technology has been developed through sound classroom research which shows that "linked multiple representation are crucial in development of conceptual understanding and it is feasible only through use of a technology such as TI-Nspire, which provides simultaneous, dynamically linked representations of graphs, equations, data, and verbal explanations, such that a change in one representation is immediately reflected in the others.

For the young people in your life it is a great investment. Bought as a Christmas present but useful for many years to come as the young person turns into an A-level candidate then works their way through university. more...

iPad Air

The analytics show that more and more people are accessing Transum Mathematics via an iPad as it is so portable and responsive. The iPad has so many other uses in addition to solving Transum's puzzles and challenges and it would make an excellent Christmas gift for anyone.

You have to hold iPad Air to believe it. It’s just 7.5 millimeters thin and weighs just one pound. The stunning Retina display sits inside thinner bezels, so all you see is your content. And an incredible amount of power lies inside the sleek enclosure. So you can do so much more. With so much less. more...

Before giving an iPad as a Christmas gift you could add a link to iPad Maths to the home screen.

Aristotle's Number Puzzle

It’s a bit of a tradition to give puzzles as Christmas Gifts to nieces and nephews. This puzzle is ideal for the keen puzzle solver who would like a challenge that will continue over the festive period (at least!).

This number puzzle involves nineteen numbers arranged into a hexagon. The goal of the puzzle is to rearrange the numbers so each of the fifteen rows add up to 38. It comes in a wooden style with an antique, aged look.

Keep the Maths in Christmaths with this reasonably priced stocking filler. more...

The Story Of Maths [DVD]

The films in this ambitious series offer clear, accessible explanations of important mathematical ideas but are also packed with engaging anecdotes, fascinating biographical details, and pivotal episodes in the lives of the great mathematicians. Engaging, enlightening and entertaining, the series gives viewers new and often surprising insights into the central importance of mathematics, establishing this discipline to be one of humanity s greatest cultural achievements. This DVD contains all four programmes from the BBC series.

Marcus du Sautoy's wonderful programmes make a perfect Christmas gift more...

Click the images above to see all the details of these gift ideas and to buy them online.

Your access to the majority of the Transum resources continues to be free but you can help support the continued growth of the website by doing your Amazon shopping using the links on this page. Below is an Amazon search box and some items chosen and recommended by Transum Mathematics to get you started.

Have you read Craig's book yet?

Craig Barton must surely be the voice of Mathematics teachers in the UK. His wonderful podcasts interviewing the industry experts have culminated in this wonderful book. As Craig says: "I genuinely believe I have never taught mathematics better, and my students have never learned more. I just wish I had known all of this twelve years ago..." more...

"How I wish I’d taught maths' is an extraordinary and important book. Part guide to research, part memoir, part survival handbook, it’s a wonderfully accessible guide to the latest research on teaching mathematics, presented in a disarmingly honest and readable way. I know of no other book that presents as much usable research evidence on the dos and don’ts of mathematics teaching in such a clear and practical way. No matter how long you have been doing it, if you teach mathematics—from primary school to university—this book is for you." Dylan Wiliam, Emeritus Professor of Educational Assessment, UCL.

The Craig Barton Book

Casio Classwiz Calculator

There is currently a lot of talk about this new calculator being the best in its price range for use in the Maths classroom. The new ClassWiz features a high-resolution display making it easier to view numerical formulas and symbols but it isn't a graphical calculator as such (it has the capacity to draw graphs on your smart phone or tablet, via a scannable QR code and an app).

As well as basic spreadsheet mode and an equation solving feature you also get the ability to solve quadratic, cubic or quartic polynomial inequalities and the answer is given just as it should be written down, using the correct inequality symbols!

This calculator has a high-performance processor and twice the memory of previous models ensuring speedy operation and superior computational power.more...

Online Maths Shop

Laptops In Lessons

Teacher, do your students have access to computers?
Do they have iPads or Laptops in Lessons?

Whether your students each have a TabletPC, a Surface or a Mac, this activity lends itself to eLearning (Engaged Learning).

Laptops In Lessons

Here a concise URL for a version of this page without the comments.

Here is the URL which will take them to a game that will help them practise the 87 times table.

Here is the URL which will take them to the most popular multiplication tables app.

Student Activity



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