Use your fridge to teach 11+ maths

by | Feb 15, 2022 | Exams, Front page posts, Maths, Parents, Teach, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Using your fridge is a gentle, stress-free way to help your child revise key maths facts. Maths isn’t all calculations and understanding new concepts. Some content is purely revision-based – and that’s where your trusty chiller comes in…

Challenges of the Kent and Medway 11+ exams

Every element of our local Kent and Medway Test 11+ papers is designed to be academically challenging. The key aim of every 11+ exam board is to select only the most confident/academically able pupils (who will be offered a coveted place at one of our excellent local grammar schools).

No content is more challenging than the maths. The GL exam board sets 25 tough questions to be answered in just 25 minutes. The CEM board exam has a 50 minute maths paper, including a whole section of fast-paced quick calculations.

For children to feel good about this paper on the day they need to be nimble with their single digit mental maths, to have practised their two and three digit calculations, and to have familiarised themselves – through revision – with all sorts of varied skills and topics.

Our 11+ tutor clubs

My job, as an 11+ tutor, is to come up with ways to streamline the revision process, so that it isn’t allowed to become overwhelming.

Yet the full curriculum content in the 11+ exam ranges from higher-level inference and deduction in the English comprehension, to three-dimensional reasoning in the spatial exercises. Few children will feel completely confident across the board.

A child who loves Minecraft and is comfortable manipulating 3D shapes, is not necessarily going to feel great about empathising with a character in a formal text extract. And a child who loves reading and has a wonderful imagination and vocabulary, may not feel that good about non-verbal coding.

We have 273 a week in our club programme, and 130 of these will be taking a version of the 11+ this Autumn (whether it is the Kent Test, the Medway Test or the ISEB Pretest). So it isn’t surprising that I speak with parents on a regular basis about their child’s lack of confidence in one subject or another.


And that’s where the fridge comes in.

Most fridges are placed in a high-traffic area of the family home. If yours is tucked away in a slick cupboard unit, then pick an alternative piece of (probably kitchen) furniture that is in your child’s line of sight throughout the day.

You will need a set of fridge magnet numbers. If you don’t have a set, just write numbers on a piece of paper in a bold pen.

Teaching via the fridge is considerably less stressful than trying to get your child to rote-learn a reasonably dull, but important, piece of information. For each new fridge lesson – allow a week or so of the content being stuck up there for your child to absorb. Although I must admit we had the first six cube numbers on our fridge for months. Go with whatever works for your child.

1. Prime numbers

Stick the first handful of prime numbers to the fridge. A prime number can only be divided by 1 and itself (but importantly the number 1 is not prime). Go with 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13 and then a higher one like 101 or 163. Leave them there for a few days and remind your child what they are. Ask them to add one or two of their own. Remind them of the quick tricks to check if a number divides by 2, 5, 10 or 3. Once they seem happy with them, swap them for…

2. Square numbers

Go from 1 to 169 and once they’ve seen the set-up, slide the even numbers up and the odd numbers down a bit. Separate numbers that would be too old for a person’s age. See if they can add a later one or two…

3. Factors

Put the number 24 on the fridge and then put all the pairs of factors in chronological order underneath: 1×24, 2×12, 3×8, 4×6. Later in the week separate the prime factors.

4. Multiples

Go with 24 again but this time put 48, 72, 96 and even 24000

I like the idea that you can fiddle about with the display to mess it up, or to put in a wrong number and ask them to spot it. Much more lively an activity than trying to get them to learn them with a pencil and paper.

Get in touch

Do email me if you need any support with your child’s 11+ preparation. We have strategies to tackle anything you might be struggling with, we’ve been doing it a very long time!