3 Amazing Numicon Activities for Preschool

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Updated on: Educator Review By: Michelle Connolly

Numicon is a physical math resource developed by Oxford University Press to provide support for parents and educators when delivering math workshops or lessons. It is a perfect tool for children in Early Years or for Key Stage One, but is particularly useful if you are teaching children in Key Stage Two and Three that are struggling with math.

Numicon has a wonderful way of taking the abstract concepts of mathematics and making them palatable for children. Introducing Numicon activities for preschool children is a great way of encouraging children to get to grips with math and ensures that they have a solid foundation in basic math concepts.

With an array of Numicon activities for preschool children available, they’ll be begging to do maths.

Numicon Activities for Preschool Children: 

Shapes and Their Order

A great way of encouraging children to become involved with math is by introducing shapes. Getting to know shapes and their order is a great task for kids to do with Numicon. To do the activity, you will need to have a Numicon board. Make sure you cover the board, and your task is to help your child cover the board, so there are no gaps. Make sure they use one of every shape.

Another great activity is the shape lotto. You take one Numicon baseboard and select four Numicon shapes from a set of one to ten shapes. Place each one in a corner of the baseboard. From here, place a set of one to ten shapes in an opaque bag. Encourage your child to reach into the bag and select a shape.

If a matching shape is drawn, cover the matching shape on your baseboard. If it’s not a matching shape, then you can replace it in the bag and pick it up again. Encourage your child to think about the color and shape. This teaches them to trial and error.

Remembering patterns is a useful tool for children to learn and can be performed using Numicon shapes. The resources required for this activity are number image cards and matching number image resources. Place the picture cards face down on the table in front of you and encourage your child to choose a card. Get them to study the picture and then place it face down in front of you.

Numicon is an approach to teaching math that helps your child to see connections between numbers.

This is an example of Numicon activities for preschool children that help with visual memory. They can then use Numicon blocks to create a number pattern. This aids children’s memory of shapes. A perfect tool for helping with counting objects as well.

Another way of encouraging children to visualize numbers and a great example of Numicon activities for preschool children are Swaps. Get your child to place all the shapes in order. Then, once they have the Numicon shapes lined up, tell them to cover their eyes while you swap two shapes over.

Encourage children to begin to identify Numicon Shapes by touch. Children take shapes one by one from the Feely Bag to cover the Baseboard. As they start to fill the Baseboard, children will need to feel for the correct Shape to fit the gaps that are left.

They can then open their eyes and identify the incorrect shapes before reassembling them. This can be done a few times, increasing the difficulty as your child becomes comfortable with the swaps.

Numicon Activities LearningMole

Linking Shapes: Number Names and Numerals

Numicons are unique due to their color and shape, representing a variety of numbers. This makes Numicon activities for preschool ideal for children learning to identify shapes. An activity that helps children with linking shapes to their number name and numeral is a game called Snatch. You will need Numicon blocks and will need to place them in a ten-frame order. Here, you can encourage children to work out how much each block is worth.

Name That Shapes is another example of Numicon activities for preschool children that encourages the linking of shapes. The resources required are Numicon Number Cards. You will only need one to ten if playing with Early Years children. Shuffle the numeral cards and place them face down in a pile. Take it in turns to take a card and match it appropriately to the shape. It can be done vice versa as well. It’s a fun and exciting activity that allows children to link shapes to their number names and numerals.

Numicon Activities

One popular activity used in Numicon resources is Feel and Find. You’ll need digit cards numbered one to ten, shuffled and placed face down in a pile. Get an opaque bag with the Numicon shapes within it. Make sure the Numicon blocks are one to ten as well. Turn over the card and feel for a shape. Feel around until you get what you think is the corresponding shape. If you pick incorrectly, place the Numicon block back in the bag and try again. This can be used with numeral cards instead or can incorporate both resources.

Another fantastic way for Numicon activities for preschool children to be utilized is Swap Shape or Swap Numeral. Have the shapes in order with matching numerals. Get your child to look away as you swap over two of the shapes or numerals. Then allow them the opportunity to place them back in their correct places. A great way of engaging with your child and learning through play. This is also a great activity for monitoring their progress.

Numicon Activities for Preschool: 

Using the Patterns

Patterns and sequences are used in everyday activities, and they’re an important part of mathematics for children to learn. Once activity to use Numicon pegs that helps with this is the game How Many Pegs? Set out shapes and cards in order.

Using the white baseboard, set out a random arrangement of pegs, from one to ten. Encourage your child to arrange the pegs into Numicon patterns and say the number out loud. You can use the shapes to check this as well. This is a great way to encourage children to participate in an individual activity and to critically think.

Numicon Activities: 

Numicon is widely recognized as a really useful classroom resource for building math 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

Numicon Art

The shapes can be used 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.

What age is Numicon for?
Numicon apparatus encourages children to reason mathematically through use of concrete objects. Numicon builds a deep understanding of maths through a multisensory approach. This pack contains apparatus for teaching children aged 9 to 11.

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 math principles. For a simple game, children can through a die and find the matching number, for a more challenging game they can find a number bond or the answer to a simple sum.

Numicon Activities LearningMole
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?

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 Savory 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 activities for preschool that encourage children to think of patterns are Add One More. This is specifically designed to develop children’s mathematical thinking by testing their knowledge of patterns.

Set the Numicon shapes in arranged order of one to ten. Get your child to take the one shape and put it with the two shapes to make the three shapes. Then take the one shape and put it with the three shapes, so it looks like the four shapes. Repeat with each shape and demonstrate the pattern occurring.

Numicon are a system of flat plastic shapes with holes in them. Each shape represents a number from one to 10 and each number has its own color. Numicon can be used across KS1, KS2, and to help bridge the gap to KS3.

What is a ten frame?

As you’ll see below, a ten frame is a two-by-five rectangular frame into which counters are placed to demonstrate numbers less than or equal to 10. Counters can be arranged in different ways to represent different numbers, which visually help your children develop strong number sense.

Numicon activities
  • Numicon activities for preschool that encourage children to think of patterns are Add One More.
Numicon Activities for Preschool
Numicon Activities for Preschool

Other concepts that children can learn through Numicon include geometry, symmetry, sharing, and even weight: fascinatingly, the pieces are weighted so that a 10-piece weighs the same as two five-pieces, or a six- and a four-piece combined.

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