My top ten rotation group activities:

I find that having a bank of regularly-used, highly-motivating and quick rotation group activities saves me a lot of time and headaches when using rotation groups.  Here are my top ten activities.  If you are a member of the Back-to-Front Maths website then you can download most of the resources from here.  We have also made sets of cards for use in the first three activities below, they are beautiful to use and require no work on your part to make them!  Buy them here.

To find out how to use rotation groups without behaviour problems, check out this article.

  • Matching cards for two or three digit place value (or for single digit numbers).  These have different representations on them (e.g. words, digits, MAB) and can be used to play memory, go fish or snap.  You can download and print these cards are already made for both two and three digit numbers at the link above, or buy them from us directly.

Matching cards

  • Make-ten dominoes:  Play dominoes, but matching up pairs to make ten instead of just matching the same number.  E.g. if there is a nine then you would need to join on a one.  Ready-made dominoes can be downloaded at the link above or ready-made cards can be purchased directly from us.


  •  Partitioning tasks: skittles, beads, drawings, blocks and counters are all used in various ways for partioning tasks.  I also love using partitioning cards with numbers represented in tens frames.  For example, playing “go fish” where instead of matching pairs of numbers we match numbers that add or subtract to give a particular total.  The link above has a number of suggestions as well as resources to use.  Partitioning cards can be purchased from us directly.

Partitioning cards

  • Hundreds board jig saw puzzle:  Photocopy and laminate a hundreds board, then cut it up into different pieces.  Place the pieces into a zip lock bag as a simple jig saw puzzle.  For a more advanced puzzle, take a piece from each of 5 different hundreds boards and put it into one bag.  Kids have to make the board, complete with overlaps and gaps, and then write down all the missing numbers.  You can download a ready-made board at the link above.
  • Board games with two dice (e.g. snakes and ladders):  Kids can decide to go forwards by both numbers, backwards by both, or forwards by one and backwards by the other.  This adds an element of strategy to a game like snakes and ladders.  I tend to put the two dice into a clear plastic container so that they don’t get thrown or lost.  This also limits clean-up time.
  • Squares from a hundreds board:  On an A4 sheet, create a series of squares that are joined at the sides or corners in an interesting pattern.  These represent some of the squares from a hundreds chart.  Laminate the page.  For the activity, use a permanent pen to write a two digit number in one of the squares.  Kids use white board pens to fill in the other numbers based on the one that they are given.  They wipe off the page at the end of the activity so that it is ready for the next group to use, but your number is still there.  What number you choose and where you put it makes the task much easier or harder.
  • Clocks and calendars:  Check out this link for a great way to teach analogue time using spinners.  It will work for non-members as well.
  • Matching 3D representations with cards:  Using multilinks cubes to build different shapes and matching up a top/side view and a list of properties (e.g. number of cubes).  The link at the top has ready-made cards to use.
  • Dice games:  Put three dice into a clear plastic container (making sure that they don’t roll away, get thrown or lost).  Shake the dice to get three numbers.  Draw a card from 1-30 and try to use the numbers once only to make as close to the total as possible.  For a simpler version, just nominate a number of the day (e.g. 12).  Each time the dice are rolled, students need to use the numbers to make as close as possible to 12.  You can vary the rules here depending on the age and ability of your kids – use all four operations or just two, use the numbers once only or as many times as you like, use all three numbers or just two…
  • Patterning games:  Match the bead/shape/number pattern and then continue it on your own.  Describe how you did it (including using numbers).  Make a similar pattern.  This can be 2D or 3D depending on the kids.

And just because having more is always a bonus…

11. Making a number in as many ways as possible on mini magnetic white boards.  They can stick on magnets to make it, write the words (or stick on magnetic words), draw it… Then have one person in the group take a photo of them holding their board at the end.

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