I am a great believer in using multi-sensory activities when teaching children – I always use sandpaper letters and magnetic letters and objects when first teaching children their letter sounds and how to blend sounds to read words.
Numicon is a multi-sensory maths programme that is used in many schools in the UK and it enables children to gain a deep understanding of mathematics from an early age. It makes numbers ‘real’ for a child because they can see and touch them.
Numicon’s strong visual imagery with emphasis on pattern, multi-sensory approach and ‘small steps’ teaching programme is also used successfully with children of all ages with many different special needs.
There are some great resources that can be used by parents at home, either to support what is done at school, or to introduce children to maths in a practical and fun way.
Children are very quick to notice patterns, and the pattern in Numicon Shapes helps children to see the connections between numbers.
The holes in the Numicon Shapes correspond to the numbers 1 to 10. When Numicon Shapes are arranged in order, children begin to notice important connections between numbers – that each number is ‘one more’ than the last and ‘one fewer’ than the next for example. Later on, children can see with the Shapes how two threes make six, two fives make ten etc.
Young children learn best through playing, so it’s a good idea to let children start off by simply making up games and generally playing with the Shapes, Pegs and patterns as they will no doubt be learning something valuable.
Encourage your child to develop a mental picture of the Numicon Shapes as these offer children a visual picture of numbers and their relationships. Playing some activities by touch encourages mental imagery.
Find matching shapes – take turns to pick a Shape and the other player has to find one that matches. The feely bag can also be used for this.
Make a pattern with Pegs on the Baseboard and see if your child can copy the pattern. Start with a simple two colour pattern first. Later, encourage your child to continue your pattern and then make up their own patterns.
Use the Pegs to thread on the Bootlaces, making patterns as above.
Make a pattern with Pegs on the Baseboard and the other player has to find the Numicon Shape to match on top.
Put Shapes in order of size, starting with the smallest. Start simply with 5 of the shapes and gradually introduce more Shapes until your child can put the Shapes from 1-10 in order independently.
Put the Shapes in order then ask your child to look away while you remove one of the Shapes, leaving a gap. See if your child can find the missing Shape from the spares pile.
Choose a shape and count the holes as you put a Peg in each one. When your child can count from 1 to 10, ask them to give each shape its number name.
Match the Numeral Cards (or the number thrown on a dice) to the Shapes.
Addition and subtraction can be introduced through practical activities, combining two or more shapes to make a larger one.
Printing using Numicon shapes
Counting marbles / coins / small objects into Numicon shape
Creating shape patterns in playdough
Make rubbings of shapes using tin foil / crayons on paper
As with any resource, it is the skilful use in the classroom that makes a big difference. In the past, Numicon was often regarded as useful in Reception/KS1 or later on as a catch-up or to help with SEN pupils.
New resources have now been produced to support the Primary maths curriculum for Number, Pattern and Calculating and Geometry, Measurement and Statistics. Your child may already be using Numicon at school, but even if they’re not, it’s ideal to support the early maths teaching they will be meeting in the classroom.
Numicon resources to use at home can be found on the FOCUS ON PHONICS website.
More information about you can support your child’s maths at home using Numicon can be found on the OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS website.
There are also some great ideas for to help on PINTEREST