Ideas with Numicon and other manipulatives

Thanks to all those who attended the Numicon workshop today and also for Numicon for coming along to deliver it for us.  It was very well received and people seemed to be armed with ideas when they left.  (A few photos below with a brief description of some of the activities.)

Familiarising ourselves with the Numicon shapes by playing games to select specific pieces while learning and using a range of mathematical language.  Race to 30 got us adding, exchanging and subtraction.


Using the Cuisenaire rods to explore mathematical language and also think about what happens when you change the value of the piece… if the beige piece is now worth 5, what is the orange piece worth?


Using Cuisenaire rods to explore fractions including equivalent fractions, subtracting fractions with different denominators and what happens when you change the value of one of the pieces.


A few posts ago I shared some digital resources that represent many of these manipulatives, Cuisenaire rods weren’t included in that but there is a digital version available on Maths Playground if you’re looking for one.  I made the image below on it.

Screen Shot 2019-01-21 at 23.46.02.png

For those that weren’t able to attend hopefully you’ve got a tiny snapshot into the possibilities of the sorts of things you could do if you have Numicon (or other manipulatives in your school).  I’ve also included a video below with an idea for how you might teach addition of fractions using Numicon.

If you don’t have Numicon, some of the resources can be printed from the Oxford Owl website (it’s free to create a login).  When you are on the site, navigate to ‘Numicon’ and then click on the tab that says ‘Teaching and Assessment Resources’.  Here you’ll find a few free printable resources, activity ideas and videos that you can play to see Numicon in action.  Lots of schools have Cuisenaire rods that lie unused as people aren’t sure what to do with them so there are quite a few clips here which will give you some great ideas.

The adding fractions activity above could also be done replacing the Numicon shape with an easily made 2 by 2 four frame instead (for example) and using counters instead of the Numicon pegs.  You could also get creative with Lego and do a similar activity.

If anyone has some good examples of how they are using manipulatives in their school to support conceptual understanding, whether that’s Numicon or any other form of manipulative (tens frames, Cuisenaire rods, dienes equipment, straws and many more)

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