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?

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.

Percentages Grid: Calculate the 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.

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

Online Logo

Online Logo

An opportunity for students to write a computer program. There is nothing to download, all of the interaction takes place in the browser. Great for understanding angles and the properties of shapes.



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."

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."

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

"I have used your starters for 3 years now and would not have a lesson without one! Fantastic way to engage the pupils at the start of a lesson."

Comment recorded on the 14 September 'Starter of the Day' page by Trish Bailey, Kingstone School:

"This is a great memory aid which could be used for formulae or key facts etc - in any subject area. The PICTURE is such an aid to remembering where each number or group of numbers is - my pupils love it!

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 1 May 'Starter of the Day' page by Phil Anthony, Head of Maths, Stourport High School:

"What a brilliant website. We have just started to use the 'starter-of-the-day' in our yr9 lessons to try them out before we change from a high school to a secondary school in September 2007. This is one of the best resources on-line we have found. The kids and staff love it. Well done an thank you very much for making my maths lessons more interesting and fun."

Comment recorded on the 10 September 'Starter of the Day' page by Carol, Sheffield PArk Academy:

"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!!"

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."

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 8 May 'Starter of the Day' page by Mr Smith, West Sussex, UK:

"I am an NQT and have only just discovered this website. I nearly wet my pants with joy.
To the creator of this website and all of those teachers who have contributed to it, I would like to say a big THANK YOU!!! :)."


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

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

Mental Methods Activities:

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.

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.

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

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.


Trick Or Treat

Trick Or Treat

A mathematical true false general knowledge activity for Halloween.. So far this activity has been accessed 164 times and 27 people have earned a Transum Trophy for completing it.



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