Numicon activities

Numicon is widely recognised as a really useful classroom resource for building maths fluency using a visual and tactile practical base to develop conceptual understanding and fluent recall. Numicon also helps to support the 2014 national curriculum by developing conversation, reasoning and problem-solving.
Here we share a few fun and creative possibilities for using Numicon in the classroom and beyond for FS2 and KS1.

Numicon Baking

Children can use numicon to bake something tasty by using a basic biscuit or pastry recipe rolled out and cut into pieces then decorating with either sweets or savoury toppings (e.g. sliced cherry tomatoes) to represent the shapes. The different numicon numbers can then be used to divide up the shapes for children to eat and enjoy.

Numicon display

numicon display

With many thanks to Class 1, Farmborough Primary School for sharing this lovely idea for a Numicon display

Numicon Art

The shapes can be sued to create pictures and displays for the classroom by placing paper over the top and rubbing using crayons, using the shapes as stencils for pens, pencils, brushes or spray bottles. For a messy art and craft project numicon can also be used to print by dipping into a tray of paint.

Numicon modelling dough

The addition of Numicon to a modelling dough area will allow children to explore numbers whilst they play creating patterns with the shapes and dough and even having a go at making their own numicon numbers using modelling dough.

Reflective Symmetry

Creating reflective symmetry pictures is a great visual way for children to explore patterns. Mirrors can also be added to help children to work out the patterns.

Numicon lucky dip

Identifying numicon shapes in from a bag without looking is a fun activity and can be adapted to suit a range of different maths principles. For a simple game children can through a dice and find the matching number for a more challenging game they can find a number bond or the answer to a simple sum.

Numicon in the water or sand tray

Shapes hidden in the water or sand tray can be a great way for children to begin to explore numbers and can also be turned into a fun game e.g. can you put the shapes in order, find number 5?

Giant numicon

Creating number lines

Number lines can be created with on paper with word and numbers written on or using chalk on a playground to give children plenty of space to move around when ordering their numbers. The number lines can also be used for children to do simple calculations by moving up and down the line.

Numicon scavenger hunt

Placing shapes around a limited outdoor area will allow children to move about whilst solving a range of number problems or finding shapes that fit a certain pattern e.g less than 5, more than 7. Numicon giant foam shapes are ideal for spreading the activity over a slightly wider area and still remaining visible and noticeable.

The use of a solid apparatus can help to embed deep understanding, which is key to maths mastery. It gives an abstract concept a tangible object. Whilst it is often used for teaching and assessment for children in reception and key stage 1, it can also be useful for more advanced concepts in Key stage 2.


Do you use numicon? How do you use it to support learning and understanding for maths?

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