Year 6

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We can use a calculator to solve problems with more than one step

We can use jottings to support our calculations

Year 6 Unit 7

What we are learning:

To develop confidence in using a calculator your child needs lots of opportunities to use one. Most mobile phones have a calculator so there is usually always one to hand. For example, encourage your child to use their calculator to work out which is the best buy on supermarket offers.

Make sure that your child has experience of using a calculator for money questions. Discuss why £56.70 is shown as 56.7 on the calculator.

Add or subtract money on a calculator for example:
£84.58 – £38. 28 ~ the calculator will display the answer as 46.3 and your child needs to interpret this in terms of the context of the original question – in this case money (£46.30)
£67.23 + £28.57 ~ the calculator will display the answer as 95.8 ~
Ask How will you record this answer? (it should be £95.80)

Your child may still need to make jottings when using a calculator – encourage this.

Encourage your child to use rounding to estimate before using a calculator this will help your child has a sense of the size of the answer.


Activity sheet: Beat the calculator PDF

Activities you can do at home:

Play ‘Beat the calculator’
A game for 2 players. One with a calculator, one without. Take it in turns to use the calculator
1. Shuffle the questions (download sheet)
2. Turn over one question one at a time and calculate
3. The person with the calculator must calculate using the calculator even if they can calculate it mentally.
4. “Who calculated the answer first?” Discuss why you can beat the calculator or why the calculator won.

Good questions to ask:

Which calculation strategies did you use?
Why did mental calculation win?
Why did the calculator win?
How could you win more questions next time?
What jottings did you need to make?
Write some questions of your own that you can definitely win if you have the calculator.
Write some questions of your own that you can definitely win if you do not have the calculator.

If your child:

Tries to write down the whole sum formally instead of jottings
Explore together which parts of the calculation they can do in their head mentally, and which jottings might help them remember key parts of their thinking process.

Does not want to write down jottings because they are not a ‘proper sum’
Remind them that not all calculations have to be written down formally. Some can be completed mentally without jottings, but informal notes can be very helpful to remember numbers in complex calculations.

Can complete calculations mentally without jottings
Try more complex problems, especially with two or three steps and larger numbers or decimals

Extension Activity

Please use this activity when you think your child understands the unit of work. It will deepen and extend your child’s understanding of this unit.


Extension activity (PDF)

Extension activity answers (PDF)