Saturday, 15 October 2011


In 1976 I was 7 years old.  For my birthday, my parents gave me my very first calculator - a Detson E406.  It was as big as a Samsung Galaxy Tab, as thick as the Tesco Direct catalogue, and I thought it was magic.  You clicked it on with a proper on-off switch and on the display appeared bright numbers of blue light.  They were so bright that I often used the number 88888888 to illuminate my books under the bedclothes.

The other part of my present that year was a book.  A book of puzzles, games and exercises to help me find out how to use my calculator.  It was thanks to this book that I discovered the art of calculator spelling.  I think most people of my generation have experienced the sniggery delight of typing 5318008 into a calculator then turning it upside-down to read a certain naughty word.

For the last few days I have been finding out about Key Stage 2 Maths, as in 6 days time I will be delivering some training to secondary MFL teachers on Literacy and Numeracy.  While looking at a list of KS2 Maths vocabulary, I came across a list of calculator terms.  This made me think of calculator spelling, and I got very sidetracked.  I need to blog it to get it out of my system and make me concentrate again!

I wondered if calculator spelling existed in other languages, and I'm pleased to be able to report that it does.  In Spanish it even has a proper name - Calculogramas.  It struck me that these would make cool little target language exercises that would promote numeracy in the MFL classroom, as well as dictionary and other skills.

Have a go at these:


Aujourd'hui il fait du (220681 + 493024).
Ma meilleure copine s'appelle (277461 + 73612).
Je ne suis pas Français.  Je suis (9934.5 x 4).
J'ai une nouvelle robe en (621 x 5).


Me gusta jugar al (372902 x 19).
Tengo (5 x 1027) años.
A mi novio doy muchos (41436 + 9102).
Un vaso de limonada sin (12 - 11.2686) por favor.

There are more ideas for French here and Spanish here.  Apparently there are some German examples too, but, as I don't know any German, I'd recommend you use 379009.

UPDATE 31.10.11:  I have added a Calculogramas worksheet to my website - click here and scroll to the bottom of the page.

1 comment:

  1. Great idea Clare, I've put the link on the SALT FB page.