The Many Possibilities of Number Fans

Number Fans

The Many Possibilities of Number Fans

Number fans are back in fashion! After feedback from customers, PTS recently introduced number fans into our product catalogue. Read on to find out more about these great classroom tools, and some great ideas for how they can support your pupils with numeracy.

PTS Number Fans

PTS number fans have a double set of numbers, as well as a decimal place, so they are perfect for using with pupils through Key Stages 1 and 2. But rest assured, the large number of cards in each fan doesn’t make it difficult to hold or fiddly to use. The small size of the cards, as well as the sturdy fastener, makes them easy to handle for small hands.

PTS number fans are printed on high quality, matt laminated card, with a child-safe plastic split pin fastening. Each card is 47mm x 127mm, and fold out to a maximum diameter of 226mm. Find out more here.

Class Activities

Quick Quizzes

Pupils can use fan cards to answer questions posed verbally by the teacher. They work out the answer mentally, and then hold up their number fan. Advise each pupil to look at the answer they have created on the fan, as some students accidentally hold up the numbers in reverse order (for example: 18 instead of 81) if they do not do this. As well as using fan cards to revise number knowledge and practice number strategies, fans can be used diagnostically to identify which pupils have a certain understanding and which do not.

Number fans can be an everyday piece of classroom equipment for every child. They could be used to review number knowledge. Using number fans for this purpose, rather than a ‘quick ten’ or asking students to ‘raise their hands with the answer to a problem’ has a number of advantages:

  • All students have to participate. It is very easy to see those who would normally ‘zone out’ during such a ‘thinking’ activity. This is something that some pupils resent initially – but they get over it!
  • It is easy to see if students are having trouble with a problem – they respond slower or look around at what others have done.
  • It is low stakes, so your class can see what their peers have held up as an answer, and be redirected to check their work to see who is correct.
  • They do not get their lack of mathematical prowess reinforced at the start of every period; instead, they can be supported towards additional learning.
  • Pupils who have difficulty with handwriting and number formation (or a reluctance to write) may find this activity more enjoyable.
  • Reminders about strategies can be given while students are thinking through their answers or finding cards.
  • No marking is required! You can differentiate the task for various abilities as some questions can be set which pupils can work at their own level depending on their number dexterity.

Who Wants to be a Mathematician?

All the children sit at their tables and the teacher selects a child to play the game by having a ‘fastest brain first’ Maths question. The child who gives the correct answer by holding their number fan quickest comes to the front of the class to play.

When in the hot seat, the child has to answer three maths questions of increasing difficulty. These questions need to be answered as quickly as possible and only the first answer can be accepted. At the same time, the rest of the class are told to think of the answer as well as, if the contestant gets it wrong you will be picking another player who has the right answer to sit in the hot seat.

Whilst in the chair the contestant gets two ‘lifelines’ to help him/her. These are ‘ask the audience’ where the rest of the class use their number fans to display their answers, and ‘phone a friend’ where the contestant is allowed to ask one of his/her class friends to help them.


Away from mathematics, number fans can be used at the end of lessons for your pupils to self-assess their understanding of the knowledge shared during that period. Simply ask your pupils to rate their understanding on a scale of 0 to 10, and hold up their fans. This will give you a quick idea where further guidance, or a mindset boost is needed before marking classwork.

Individual Activities

Number fans are also great for working one-on-one with pupils, where a maths intervention is necessary, or for giving additional guidance during lessons. For EYFS and KS1, using a fan yourself and giving a fan to the pupil, ask simple questions based on your current classroom targets. These could range from simple questions like “How old are you?” and “How many people live in your house”, for number recognition, to basic addition and subtraction, using questions such as “what number is two higher than mine?” and “what number is one less than mine?”.

Moving onto KS2, number fans allow you to ask more advanced questions, such as displaying fractions as a percentage or decimal number, multiplication, division and place value.

To download this blog as a handy document to print and keep, click here. We’d love to know your ideas for using number fans in the classroom. Please let us know in the comments section below.

You can find out more about PTS number fans here.

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