What are Maths Ninjas and why does the School use them?
Why? For both mental and written arithmetic to be accurate and fast, children need to have quick recall of addition and subtraction number bonds, and times tables. These facts need to be known so well that your child can give the answer without having to think hard, without using fingers, without counting on or back. The Maths Ninjas are step by step, timed tests with a built-in reward scheme to help and encourage your child to improve his/her recall of number facts.
What? There are 33 levels, starting at level 1 with the pairs of numbers that make 10 (eg. 2+8=10), and progressing up. Almost every child should be able to reach level 25 (quick recall of all number bonds and tables) before they leave at the end of Year 6. Some children will progress further, using their bond and table recall for quick mental calculation of fractions, decimals and percentages. Progress is not a race! Your child is only ever competing against himself/herself, trying to improve on his/her own previous week’s score.
When? Usually, children will be given a Maths Ninja at their own individual level in school on a Friday morning. They will have 1½ minutes to do it. The time is short (not long enough to use written methods, not long enough to work them out on fingers) because we are wanting children to commit these numerical facts to memory and have almost instant recall of them. The Maths Ninja sheets used in school will be very similar to the home practice sheets, but not identical. These school sheets will not be sent home, but your child will be told his/her score each week.
Remembering . . . After every 5 levels, there is a Revision level which covers all previous levels, to ensure that children continue to remember facts learned previously.
Rewards The reward scheme is linked to the Revision Levels, because these are the major milestones, showing that a child has learned and retained many number facts. Each child will have a Maths Ninja Record Card, like the one at the end of this Introduction. Each time your child moves up a Level (by achieving full marks or only one error for 2 consecutive weeks), he/she will place a ‘done’ sticker and the date on that level and will swap wrist band colour. eg. When your child has completed level 2, he/she will return a white wrist band and be given a yellow one. Each time your child completes a Revision Level, he/she will swap the blue wrist band of the previous level for the mottled band (or eventually brown or black band) at a special ceremony in Praise Assembly. The Revision Level bands may be kept (for a small charge of 40p).
* * * Read on for how to help your child to learn these facts * * *
What is the best way for you to help your child?
For the early levels (1 – 7) and a couple of the higher levels, there is an Explanation for Parents page that we strongly recommend you read. This page will explain the maths concepts and gives ideas for helping your child to learn the facts in an enjoyable way, including ideas for games. The facts are best learned in an orderly, gradual way through practical activities, oral repetition, games, drawing, etc. Once they are known in this way, then progress to using the practice sheets, timed for 1½ minutes. Initially, your child will not complete the sheet in the time, but with continued dice games, oral repetition (daily) and praise, he/she will improve. Little and very often works best! . . . and specific praise for every improvement (eg. “I’m really pleased that you remembered 3+4=7 today.”)
If you would like more practice copies . . .
The practice copies have been created using Microsoft Word, in a table format. The table grid is not visible in a printed copy. You can make the grid lines visible on screen from the table tools/design/borders/view gridlines. Then it is straight forward for you to edit the numbers on a sheet to create additional practice copies.
If you have other questions . . .
Please come and ask!