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I am such a fan of these Magnetic Tiles for kids to play with – ours are ‘Magformers’ (Magformers magnetic construction toys UK shop), which are high quality and have lasted through three children (and still going!).

You can make all sorts of creations out of them, there are a variety of shapes – squares, triangles, hexagons, pentagons, semi-circles, rhombi, trapezia etc. -and they are great for getting kids to work out Maths concepts for themselves. This picture was taken when one of my kids had just turned 3. He was playing with the squares, experimenting with how they went together and what he could do with them, and then he came up with this – it turns out he’d worked out the 3x table! I didn’t even imagine him playing with them like this, but the experimenting he did with them really helped him ‘see’ Maths concepts and numbers. He used to pick a number of squares and see how many different ways he could make a rectangle e.g. he would take 16 squares and make a 4×4 square, and an 8×2 rectangle. He also discovered the concept of a prime number – numbers made of more than one square that can only make 1 rectangle (orientation doesn’t matter so 2×1 is the same as 1×2).

Every kid is different, but mine like being set challenges. If you’ve got these tiles, or something similar, you could challenge them to see if they can work out how many ways they can make a 36 rectangle (e.g. 6×6, 12×3 etc.), or if they can work out the 4 times table in squares/triangles or any other variation. Or else, you could just let them play with them and see what they come up with. I let my son lead this – I had just thought he would build castles or something similar – but once I saw how he was using them, I encouraged him and challenged him. He could spend hours playing with them. It won’t be for everyone, but give it a go!

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