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Why I love Numicon

Early experiences of maths at home can have a huge impact on later achievement in maths.  Numicon is one way that you can help your child with their early maths skills. It is designed to help children visualise numbers.  It comes in different coloured shapes which represent the different numbers.  It can be used to help see what a number 1,2,3 etc. actually looks like.  As children progress they can use the pieces to see how to add, subtract, multiply and divide numbers.  It is in one word FANTASTIC and has helped a number of children who I have taught to actually understand what different numbers mean. Here I have put together a number of different activities which I have used to make children familiar with different numbers.  Photos for some of the activities can be found at the end of the blog.

  1. Printing with Numicon. Early experiences with Numicon are getting used to what the different shapes look and feel like.  Get the paint out and make some prints of the different pieces or press them into playdough to explore the different shapes made.  Create a pattern in the playdough and then ask “Which piece do you think made this?” or “How many bumps has this piece made? Which two pieces could we put together to cover the bumps?”
  2. Putting various objects in the different holes.  What object can you find to fit into the holes?  I have used glass nuggets, counters and playdough.  Cheerios work well too.  Get a small handful of them and see which piece uses them all.  Children can count as they go.  If you want to extend this to be a fine motor skills activity then use tweezers to put them in.
  3. Stacking.  Stacking up the Numicon pieces from 10 down to 1 lets chldren see how the numbers are decreasing.  You can also lay them out flat like a staircase.  Can they put them in the correct order from 1 to 10?  Remove one piece and see if they can work out which one is missing or place them in a different order and the children have to rearrange them.
  4. Matching up with numbers.  When children are familiar with the pieces and the number that they represent see if they can match them up with the correct physical number.  It can take children a while to recognise different numbers.  Their age is normally recognised first but they can get confused with numbers and letters.  Don’t worry if it takes them a while to recognise them.  What is more important is their understanding of what a number is.
  5. Playing with dice.  Throw a dice and see if they can find the correct Numicon piece.  Once they have the hang of this throw 2 die and see if they can work out how many altogether. The two Numicon pieces could be found and then the piece with the total number of holes.
  6. Odd and even.  The difference between odd and even numbers can be easily seen by sorting them into two different piles.  Children quickly recognise that an odd number has a hole by itself whereas even numbers form a rectangle or square.
  7. Adding and subtracting.  The pieces easily show how numbers change when they are added or subtracted.  Overlaying the pieces on top of each other helps children to physically see what happens when a number is added or subtracted.
  8. Number bonds to 10.  In the same way children can easily see what numbers make up the number 10 by putting different pieces on top of the 10 piece.
As chldren progress they can use the Numicon pieces to see the concept of place value, multiplication and to use for porblem solvng activities.  You wil need a couple of sets of the pieces though in order to do this.
A set of 1-10 Numicon pieces can be bought for only £8.99 including postage and packing at https://www.littleangelsonline.org/numicon.html

Have fun with these ideas and feel free to share any other activities that you may have done with Numicon.