Prim-Ed Publishing has some really fun, eye-catching resources. The Prim-Ed Maths Box is one of their lovely products so I’m doing a review to tell you all about it! The Maths Box is available as a 6 box set that covers years 1 through 6 and is aligned to the Maths National Curriculum for England. This article focuses solely on Box 5, which corresponds to Year 5. If you’d prefer to listen to me talk you through the box, I’ve also recorded a vlog.
Prim-Ed Maths Box
The first thing you’ll notice is that the box is really neat and compact. It has a small footprint, so it’s perfect for setting up a tidy Maths station in a corner of your classroom. You can even stash the teacher guidebook inside the box. This is already a major plus point, for me. I love how easy it is to tidy away at the end of the day!
On opening the box (the lid lifts straight off), the next thing you’ll notice is the brightly coloured cards. There are 150 question cards; 2 sets of 75. Cards neatly organise by colour and then the number. (Each colour corresponds to a particular Maths strand.) Children don’t need to work through the cards in a particular order; they can dip in and out, depending on which cards are available. The cards themselves are double-sided and have questions that gradually increase in difficulty.
At the back, there are 150 answer cards; again, 2 sets of 75. These half size cards match the question cards by colour and number, so they are just as easy to file back in the box. It’s a really intuitive filing system; you barely even need to explain it the first time and you certainly don’t need to repeat the explanation.
With 2 sets of each card, you can have 2 children or 2 groups working on the same card at the same time. Or, with 150 cards and no requirement to do them in a particular order, you can have all your kids working on different cards.
Recording & Tracking Sheets
You can either have your students work on a particular topic or give them free reign to choose any card. Once they’ve chosen a card, they’ll need one of the photocopiable Pupil Answer Recording Sheet worksheets. (Top tip: make one good copy and use it for subsequent photocopies. The book has an awkward spine and doesn’t really want to lie flat in the photocopier.) Next, the student will work through the questions and record their answers, before filing the card back in the box. Finally, they can select the matching answer card to self-mark their own work. Or, you can set your kids to mark each other’s work. Either way, it really frees up your own time as you don’t have a ton of worksheets to grade. (Of course, if you want extra grading duties, there are copies of the answer card in the teacher guide for convenience.)
To keep your children on track, there is a blackline master Pupil Tracking Sheet. The kids can check off each question card as they complete them. There are also Teacher Class Tracking Sheets, so you can see at a glance how much everyone has completed.
Maths Curriculum Reinforcement
The Prim-Ed Maths Box isn’t intended to be a standalone curriculum. It is designed to support the NC Maths objectives and provide you with a robust set of practice work. The teacher guide has a full breakdown of objectives met by each card. You can focus on particular objectives, for reinforcement, or you can have your kids pick any card at random.
If you have the full set of boxes, you could potentially use it for revision or remedial practice. Go down one level and let your kids independently revise concepts in which they are already secure. I’d be wary of going up a level, even for your most able students. The cards aren’t intended to teach Maths; the cards are for practising Maths. Kids working towards, rather than at, their grade level might need a fair bit of help. I’d consider dropping down a level and going back to their grade box later in the year unless you’re planning on small group work with the cards. A mixed ability group would find it quite fun, helping each other solve the problems.
That being said, each Maths Box is pretty much a full year’s worth of independent practice work. Your kids will be able to go through the cards by themselves. (Assuming you have the boxes that correspond to their level.) You don’t need to hover over them. Just check how they’re getting on, at regular intervals, and quickly spot any weak points in their work.
Prim-Ed Maths Box Bonus Resources
The key components are really the cards, container, and recording and tracking sheets. However, there are actually more blackline masters to photocopy than just dull admin worksheets. The teacher guide includes full-colour mini posters that you can colour copy and stick around your classroom. Better still, put the mini posters around your Maths station to make it more colourful and attractive. There are also photocopiable resource pages that include place value charts, number lines, factors and multiples grid, and various nets for 3D shapes.
Why You Need The Maths Box
The Prim-Ed Maths Box is ideally suited to many classrooms. Challenge more able students at the start of the year. It can be used as a regular Maths station throughout the year. Your pupils will love the self-marking aspect; it feels so grown-up and responsible! (I like to set aside special grading pens just for this.) You will love the time that it frees up, so you can target some 1:1 or small group attention while the rest of your kids are occupied.
Composite classes can be tricky. The Maths Box would be great for concurrent work across the different year groups. Just set out the boxes that apply to your class structure and you’re good to go – it’s such a simple no-prep strategy!
Freelance tutors and homeschool co-operatives could definitely get a lot of use from this product. Sturdy and built to last. (Thick cards with curved edges; will withstand lots of handling. You may need to reinforce the box itself with a little tape over the edges.) It’s a tad heavy to tote around so I’d suggest that tutors only carry a selection of cards that they know they’ll be using. Homeschool co-operatives will probably have a suitable storage area, or perhaps a rotating study station where they can deposit the boxes.
Homeschoolers who love structure and organisation will love this product. It’s a great no-prep Maths exercise that you can build into your weekly routine. If you use the workbox or crate system, this is a perfect tie-in; pick out the cards you want and add them to your file for that week. No extra dog-eared printouts, or carefully dissecting workbooks! These glossy cards will be reusable for younger siblings in due course.
When It Might Not Suit You
Individual home educators would need to consider whether there are younger siblings to whom resources will be handed down; it’s a large upfront investment if you have just one child. They’d also need to consider whether the Prim-Ed Maths Box is a good fit for their child’s preferred study mode and whether they’d be likely to use other supplementary curricula through the year. It’s a good fit if you’re only going to have one main Maths curriculum with this as a supplement. If your child loves playing teacher and doing written work, it’s definitely a good fit! (Throw in some special marking pens and reward stickers, and it’ll be super fun.) Kinaesthetic learners would not really take to this. Eclectic homeschoolers who are likely to switch up their curricula through the year would also not find this a good fit due to cost implications.
Prim-Ed Maths Box Vlog
Listen to me talk you through the Maths Box and some of my likes and dislikes about the box.
This Prim-Ed Maths Box was a complimentary sample from Prim-Ed but all opinions are my own. You can buy your own year group specific Maths Box direct from Prim-Ed at £175 GBP. Or, you can also buy a full set of 6 boxes at £750 GBP. (Prices correct at time of writing.)
I had a look on Amazon, as I’m an impatient fan of Prime! Only Box 3* is currently available via Amazon. However, you can buy all the boxes direct from the publisher via the Prim-Ed website.