What is Big Maths?

Big Maths is a teaching programme used at Abbey Primary School to help children to become numerate. Problem solving and word problems cannot be solved until children can manipulate and understand how numbers work. Children are introduced to child-friendly terms such as ‘Switchers’ and ‘Learn Its’, rather than ‘commutative law’ and ‘number bonds’ to help them manipulate numbers and make them more confident and successful.

CLIC Sessions
This stands for ‘Counting’, ‘Learn Its’, ‘It’s Nothing New’ and ‘Calculation’.
Maths lessons contain all or some of these elements.


COUNTING – Count Fourways
Children may be counting forwards, backwards, in steps of 3, 6 or 25 etc. If you wish to help your child to practise counting at home, please make sure that you count backwards and forwards. Also, avoid starting at 0 – try to start from a range of other numbers.

Learn Its are addition facts and times tables facts. There are 72 Learns Its in total-36 addition Learn Its and 36 multiplication Learn Its. These are facts that children need to learn off by heart, so when they are asked ‘what is 6+4?’ they are able to give the answer as quickly as they would be able to tell you their name! As soon as they know 3x5=15 they also know 5x3=15;this is known as a ‘Switcher’.

‘Learn Its’ by Year Group

•  Reception – Doubles of 1, 2,3,4,5, and 2+1 = 3 and 2+3 = 5
•  Year 1 – Doubles of 6,7,8,9, and numbers which make 10 (2+8, 7+3)
•  Year 2- Remainder of 1 digit + 1 digit facts (e.g. 9+7=16)
•  Year 3 – focus on x3 x4 x9 tables facts
•  Year 4 – the six remaining facts (6x6, 6x7, 6x8, 7x7, 7x8,8x8,) and 36                  Addition   Learn Its
•  Year 5 and 6 - all 72 Learn Its.

Please work at home to make sure children really do know their Learn Its and their ‘Switchers’ with INSTANT RECALL (no fingers!)

Addition Learn Its


Multiplication  Learn Its



Every week children take part in Big Maths CLIC and Learn It challenges, where their calculation skills are tested.
There are 20 different steps in the Big Maths CLIC challenges which children progress through incrementally. We use these to assess children's calculation skills and, in some cases, to inform our planning. The challenges also provide regular weekly practise of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division (as well as decimals, fractions and percentages in the later stages).
Each CLIC challenge contains ten questions which become progressively more difficult through the stages. When children have been able to answer all ten questions correctly for three weeks consecutively they will move up to the next CLIC level.

Examples of Big Maths Beat That CLIC challenges:



This is the most important aspect of CLIC – the way children become successful and properly numerate. Ideas such as ‘5 things’ and ‘3 things’ are always ‘8 things’. If we then change the ‘thing’ to tens for example: 5 tens + 3 tens = 8 tens. Children will count in bananas, aliens, cats etc. to lead into this. It becomes much easier to use amounts and measures such as ml, and m. Pim the Alien is used to reinforce this concept.
The idea is that the learning is ‘nothing new’ – children find being told this means that they feel more able to answer questions with real understanding. If a child knows double 4, they can use that to find double 40 with confidence.
Phrases such as ‘Jigsaw Numbers’, ‘Smile Multiplication’ and ‘Where’s Mully?’ are all part of this section of Big Maths.

Jigsaw numbers

These are a way of adding pairs of numbers to equal 100, decimals equal to 1.0


Smile Multiplication

This is used for multiplying multiples of 10 eg. 40 x 6




‘Where’s Mully?’ is a game that is played to help children master division. He hides behind numbers in a number square and the children have to find him; e.g. ‘He’s hiding behind the biggest multiple of 3 without going over 40 – he’s on 39. ‘


This aspect of CLIC is when the teacher will work on developing the class’ progress and understanding of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Big Maths clearly maps out which steps children should complete in order and helps teachers to identify where to go back to if a child is struggling.

Big Maths is a very useful tool to help children become numerate… but we still need your support at home.

How can you help?

ϖ    Help your child practice their Learn Its at home – a few minutes a day is all you need
ϖ    Insist that numbers are written the correct way round
ϖ    Play some maths games with your children to show them that MATHS IS FUN!
ϖ    Congratulate your child if their Big Maths score goes up.

If you have any questions or concerns please see your child’s class teacher in the first instance.
You can also find further support and games for Maths on our website.

Please click on the links below to see our written calculation policies

Abbey Primary School | Glastonbury Crescent | Mossley Estate | Bloxwich | WS3 2RP
Phone: 01922 710753 | Fax: 01922 404365 | Email: postbox@abbey.walsall.sch.uk
Headteacher: Mr Mark Gilbert