Make 'Em Think Maths

Welcome to Make 'Em Think Maths. On this website you will find ideas for teaching Mathematics with a focus on conceptual understanding. Time is precious, so I make short informative animations and stills for teachers.

I don't want this website to be just a bank of pdfs and powerpoint resources. I think the best resource we have is our own resourcefulness. I hope this site to give you ideas for you to run with!

Follow on Twitter: @mcguirea499

Subscribe on Youtube: Make'EmThinkMaths

Latest teaching ideas:

Fraction Sense - Ratio Table - Fractions of Amounts

Using the ratio table, double number line and bars to develop fraction sense. Fractions of amounts.

Making Links With Trigonometry

Template below

Teaching Trigonometry for Understanding - Part 1

SOH CAH TOA is a trick. A necessary trick for last minute teaching of Trigonometry. What does it look like if we try and teach it for understanding? Trigonometry needs to be visited in year 9. That should give us enough time to teach it properly, surely?

What is the same and what is different?


Making Links With Quadratics NEXT STEPS

Expanding Polynomials with tree diagrams

A tree diagram is a very useful tool. Make 'Em Link!

Slides here to download

A link to an excellent Geogebra file made by @boss_maths

Additive vs multiplicative relationships with exponents

With number first?


Equivalent Fractions Linking to Multiplication

Using the area model to explore equivalent fractions and how the same representation can be used to conceptualise the multiplication of fractions.

Expanding Brackets: exploring the distributive law

I have been planning how I would teach expanding brackets to students who haven't seen it before. Do teachers focus enough on the distributive law? I feel, most students have a sense of this in their mathematical 'tool bag' and from prior learning. Why not tap in to it? Make 'em LINK!

In this clip you will see how I have tried to embrace a connectionist mindset in my planning. Thanks to Chris McGrane's Mathematical Tasks book for making me reflect on this.

Powerpoint here

Thinking about Standard Form

Ideas for learning Standard Form.

I try to borrow knowledge of powers of 10 and also students work on indices - especially reciprocals.

Using the Gattegno chart to construct numbers and then multiplying/dividing by powers of 10 can really help pupils see what is going on.

Powerpoint file here

Substitution Memory Game

Low starting point- high ceiling task. An excellent way to practice algebraic notation whilst learning substitution.

The gives pupils a sense of agency. They have the opportunity to own the Mathematics with tasks like this.

PowerPoint file here

What equations can you make?

Low starting point- high ceiling task. Pupils can make it as complicated as they like. Practice for algebraic notation.#MakeEmthinkMaths

Can you see... y = 1 + 3

x + y = 5z

(5+1)/3 = z

The list is endless.

What equations can you make? Display students work and get others to try and find them.

Deeper understanding task: Build your own picture!


One of my favourite Malcolm Swan tasks. So simple. Pick a value for n and off you go.

What could the value of n be if you arranged in this order?

Put them in an impossible order.