Numbers can be awkward things. Try explaining what a number is to a four-year-old. Not an easy task. The problem is, numbers are so abstract. What makes the difference is being able to see numbers, touch them, play with them and understand the patterns and relationships between them. Giving children the visual hooks to truly understand numbers is all important for developing their confidence and helping them to see how numbers work. Hands-on, colourful and child-friendly resources then are the key to making this happen and Numicon has developed some very impressive materials to help you revolutionise children’s number literacy achieved through action, imagery and conversation.
I have been using Numicon resources for many years and I can certainly vouch for their effectiveness. The apparatus and activities I have invested in over the years has been money well spent. This is practical resourcing at its best. This is why I am so excited by Numicon Kit 3, a box of goodies perfect for ages 7+.
Numicon Kit 3 contains everything you need for helping to develop the essential building blocks of maths. In terms of the tactile resources you get shapes, coloured pegs, spinners, number lines, number cards, rod tracks and counters. Give these to children and they’ll be happy just to play, but it’s the thinking behind them that is all important and that is where the teaching guide, software and activity handbook come in. The apparatus has to have a focus for it to be meaningful and the planning and resources support is excellent. These include getting started videos, practical suggestions for how to incorporate Numicon resources into daily maths teaching, and a masterful teaching programme. Expert thinking has been poured into creating very focused activities with clear step-by-step guidance written to a very high standard. The Activity Handbook imbues a real sense of mathematical authority and understanding and would be ideal for a numeracy leader to use as a mini-training manual to help staff sing from the same hymn sheet. The content is a fine mix of the academic and the practical and lends itself very well to using as a springboard for classroom action research.
Transforming the way children understand number is a tall order but Numicon has not shirked away from this challenge; they have tackled it head on but in a very practical sense with considerable aplomb through considered research, extensive trialling and obvious dedication.
The cultural badge of honour to say, ‘‘I’m rubbish at maths!’’ is hardly something to be proud of, yet for some folks, this is how it is, no shame attached. If only Numicon had been part of their early years and primary years maths experiences, the boasts might have been a more assertive, ‘’I’m really good at maths!’’. Numicon can play its part in achieving a cultural shift where maths ability is highly prized and rightly so. Check the Numicon website (numicon.com) for more information. It is full of free resources, videos and research to find out more.
Using Numicon has helped me develop my own maths knowledge and understanding to a much deeper level because I can appreciate just how important concept-images are for making numbers real. I’ve made Numicon resources a part of my own kit and I wouldn’t dream of going on a maths walk without them.