Siam Symbols

A Maths Starter of The Day

Can you work out what each symbol represents in the following calculations?

See more calculations if you do not have enough information to work out the answer.


Topics: Starter | Logic | Place Value | Problem Solving

  • Mr Dave, BSK Kuwait
  • This was a challenging starter. Many of my students found it too hard but two (Tom and Atesha) persevered and solved it.
  • 7V3 Maths Group, King Alfred's College
  • We found this starter very interesting, because if you chose the wrong number it all falls to pieces. Although, in the end it was a very clever sum. We would recommend it to other children in Primary and Secondary.
  • Year 10, Chellaston Academy, Derbyshire
  • We enjoyed this starter as we have a student in our class who is Thai.
    Ping Ping was the teacher for the lesson!
    We also learned that children from Thailand are taught to use English numbers for their Maths.
  • Year 7 AB, St Andrews International School, Bangkok
  • Most of us found this really, really easy because we are Thai :).
  • D Bishop, Holden Lane High School
  • Used this with Year 10 and they found it a challenge! Really liked it though.
  • John Tranter,
  • Many years ago in Birmingham when the University of the First Age began we created an accelerated learning activity based on the Thai number symbols. The students created pictures on poster paper based around the symbol to help them remember the meaning of the symbols. I can still remember a picture drawn around the symbol for one showing a golf ball rolling around the spiral shape until it disappeared down the hole in the middle. The caption for the picture was ‘hole in one’ which provided the association between the symbol and the number 1. The two symbol looked like a shoe which rhymes with two and so on.
  • The Beacon School, The Mathedonians
  • We found two alternative solutions:
    1. 4 can be made to work in place of the 3.
    2. Slightly cheaty, but using 0 in place of the 3 also works. One creates a two-digit number starting with zero on the third line and must use -1 on the second so that 0 - (-1) = 1. But quite innovative!
  • Erin, 6J, Banstead Junior School
  • On the page that we looked at, some of my class got the answer provided but some of us got another answer which also worked. It was 6+5=11, 7-6=1,6x2=12 and 7 divided by 1= 7. This meant that 3 in Thai was 6, 8 was 5 and 4 was 7 so it didn't work on other pages, just the one that we looked at. I was the first to solve it in my maths class (my teacher, Mr Jenkins made me write this!)We all found the activity challenging and interesting and used it before looking at algebra.
    Erin, 6J BCJS.
  • 9ik3, 9ik3
  • We are from a school in Sheffield. We did it with no help and found a different solution. We had many tries but we didn't give up!

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 3.1 out of 5 based on 127 votes.

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Laptops In Lessons

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

Laptops In Lessons

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