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Numicon guide for parents

Find out what Numicon is and discover activity sheets, videos, and kits to support your child as they learn maths with Numicon at home.

What is Numicon?Activity sheets | VideosMore maths help | Numicon kits

What is Numicon?

Numicon is an approach to teaching maths that helps your child to see connections between numbers. From Oxford University Press, it supports your child as they learn early maths skills in nursery and primary school. It is a multi-sensory way of learning, which means your child learns by seeing and feeling.

Physical resources like the colourful Numicon Shapes are an important part of Numicon. The holes in the Numicon Shapes represent the numbers 1 to 10. When they are arranged in order, as in the picture below, children can easily see connections between numbers, such as ‘one more’ or ‘one less’.

Later on, your child will be able to see more complex mathematical ideas, like how two fours make eight, three twos make six, and so on. This lays the foundation for their understanding of number all the way through school.

Numicon is often taught in primary schools as a whole-school programme, meaning it is their main way of teaching maths. Teachers use worksheets, physical shapes, online activities, and more to teach using Numicon. As well as mainstream maths teaching, Numicon is also sometimes used as an intervention programme to help children struggling with maths.

If your child’s school uses Numicon, they may hold workshops to tell you how it is used in the classroom, and you can always ask your child’s teacher if you have any questions.

How can I help at home?

There are lots of ways you can help your child learn with Numicon at home. Download our free Numicon activity sheets, watch our Numicon videos, or browse our selection of Numicon kits for parents to find inspiration.

Numicon activity sheets

Don’t have Numicon shapes at home? Print and cut out these free Numicon shapes.

Download and print out these free Numicon worksheets to practise maths skills with your child. You’ll find helpful tips on how to extend many of these activities on our Numicon activities: partner videos playlist.

Activities for ages 4–7 (Reception to Year 2)

Calculate: Outdoors 1

Age 4–7 | Reception–Year 2
Collect objects outside and practise calculating.

Patterns: Wrapping paper

Age 4–7 | Reception–Year 2
Create colourful patterns with the Numicon shapes.

Place value: Spot the number

Age 5–6 | Year 1
Build numbers from 20-100 and understand place value with tens and ones. Watch: Explore place value with Numicon.

Odd and even

Age 5–6 | Year 1
Recognise and understand odd and even numbers. Watch: Odd and even numbers.

Position, direction, and movement: Maps and direction

Age 5–6 | Year 1
Practise following directions and learn left from right. Watch: Position, direction and movement.

Flowers

Age 5–7 | Year 1 & 2
Cut out the flowers and try adding and sorting.

Spring animals 1

Age 5–7 | Year 1 & 2
Practise number skills and using comparison words.

Camping conundrum 1

Age 5–7 | Years 1 & 2
A fun activity to help develop problem-solving skills.

Getting familiar with Numicon Shapes: Star numbers

Age 6–7 | Year 2
Practise using Numicon shapes and recognise patterns in the shapes. Watch: Numicon shapes.

Equivalence: Train dominoes

Age 6–7 | Year 2
Understand that ‘equivalence’ means ‘equal value’. Watch: Explore equivalence with Numicon.

Measurement: Caterpillar lengths

Age 6–7 | Year 2
Compare the lengths of shapes and use ‘<' and '>‘ symbols. Watch: Explore measurement with Numicon.

Activities for ages 7–9 (Years 3 & 4)

Rounding: Running track

Age 7–8 | Year 3
Look for and recognise patterns in numbers. Watch: Explore rounding with Numicon.

Multiplication: Frog hop

Age 7–8 | Year 3
Recognise numbers that are multiples of 2 and multiples of 10. Watch: Multiplication with Numicon.

Grid references: Battleshapes

Age 7–8 | Year 3
Use grid references to describe positions and find shapes. Watch: Grid references with Numicon.

Symmetry: Outdoors 2

Age 7–9 | Years 3 & 4
Learn about symmetry and shapes using leaves.

Camping conundrum 2

Age 7–9 | Years 3 & 4
A fun activity to help develop problem-solving skills.

Spring animals 2

Age 7–9 | Years 3 & 4
Practise making 20 from 2s, 4s, and 6s.

Multiples: Multiple link

Age 8–9 | Year 4
Use your knowledge of sequences of multiples to find common multiples. Watch: Explore multiples with Numicon.

Introducing decimals: Milk round

Age 8–9 | Year 4
Practise writing and saying decimal fractions (decimal numbers). Watch: Decimals with Numicon.

Perimeter and area: Help the baker

Age 8–9 | Year 4
Practise finding the perimeter of different shapes. Watch: Explore perimeter with Numicon.

Activities for ages 9–11 (Years 5 & 6)

Spring animals 3

Age 9–11 | Years 5 & 6
Practise using fractions, decimals and percentages.

Camping conundrum 3

Age 9–11 | Years 5 & 6
A fun activity to help develop problem-solving skills.

Percentages: Mixed materials

Age 9–10 | Year 5
Understand percentage as the number of parts per hundred. Watch: Explore percentages with Numicon.

Working with numbers up to 1,000,000: Charity fundraising

Age 9–10 | Year 5
Practise making, reading, and saying numbers in the millions. Watch: Large numbers with Numicon.

Reflective symmetry: Reflected designs

Age 10–11 | Year 6
Practise using coordinates to describe the position of points on a design. Watch: Explore symmetry with Numicon.

Negative numbers: Shape-man

Age 10–11 | Year 6
Add and subtract large numbers, crossing zero into negative numbers. Watch: Explore negative numbers with Numicon.

Multiplying and dividing fractions: Yoghurt robot

Age 10–11 | Year 6
Practise multiplying fractions using a diagram. Watch: Multiplying and dividing fractions.

Volume and scaling: Curious cuboids

Age 10–11 | Year 6
Practise finding the volume of cuboids. Watch: Volume and scaling with Numicon.

Numicon videos

Watch our Numicon YouTube playlist for practical ideas, advice, activities, and games to play with your child.

Numicon YouTube playlist

Learn how to use Numicon shapes to teach your child maths skills.

Video: Inside the Numicon at Home Kit

Louise Pennington and Claire from playHOORAY! talk us through what’s inside the 1st Steps with Numicon at Home Bundle and Kit.

More maths help

Copyright Oxford University Press 2020