Number Rumbler–a new fun maths game!

Maths on Toast is a charity that aims to challenge and change the public’s perception of mathematics…


Maths on Toast is a charity that aims to challenge and change the public’s perception of mathematics, collaborating with various institutions in order to achieve this. For example, over the last year, they asked UCL mathematicians what they find hard about maths – resulting in We’re Stuck! – a piece of family theatre directed by Sarah Punshon. Right now they’re collaborating with Luciano Rila about colouring patterns in maths (do contact Luciano for more information!). But meanwhile they’ve come up with a new maths game for families… Find out more below!

What’s Maths on Toast?

We’re a new charity that’s here to make maths fun for all the family. We do that through public events, and through developing activities that people can carry out at home.

And what’s this game then?numberrumbler

Number Rumbler is a card game designed to improve players’ times tables– but also to make them more mathematically meaningful through improving something called ‘number sense’. It’s a set of cards that you can use for a fast-and-furious version of snap, or a chin-rubbing version of pairs.

So how do you go about inventing and producing a maths game?

Number Rumbler was designed in consultation with local Camden children and families. We tried out initial ideas at The Winch, in Swiss Cottage, and then developed it further at Pancras Square Library. Some UCL volunteers were involved in that too! We had an initial idea and we played it with families until we knew they were enjoying it. (We learned along the way that adults also enjoy it, with games spotted taking place in the pub too!)

Our next step is to use crowdfunding. We need to raise enough money for a print run of the game – which will mean that we have enough to sell the game pretty cheaply. On our crowdfunding website, people can pre-order their copies or donate. As long as enough people pledge by the end of the month we’ll be ready to start producing thousands of packs! Fingers crossed…

And how does it actually help with maths?

In two ways. Firstly, negative attitudes to maths are a major block to achievement in this country, and those attitudes are often ingrained within families. Simply showing people it can be fun is really important.

Then, there’s that number sense business…

What’s number sense, exactly?

Number sense is the abiliNumberrumbler2ty to see beyond a squiggle on a page to the very essence of the number itself. So ten, is 10, is 2×5, is 2+2+2+2+2, etc. A sound grasp of what a number represents allows people to change a harder or more awkward sum (9+7 perhaps) into an easier one (for instance, 10+7 and then take away one). Like so many things, this understanding can be learnt, strengthened and enjoyed. How would you carry out the sum 12 +17? A conversation with a group of people will show you there are many different routes to the answer. Many people never realise this and find maths hard as a consequence. Number Rumbler counters this problem.

How can you get involved with Maths on Toast?

If you’d like to get involved with volunteering, Maths on Toast often advertises vacancies on the UCL Volunteering Service website. You can also help with Number Rumbler by pledging or telling people about the campaign here.  And if you have produced mathematical images during your research that you think would make good colouring patterns, contact Luciano Rila.

Alexandra Fitzsimmons is CEO of maths education charity Maths on Toast, set up in 2012 to make maths fun for all the family.

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