Posted in Calculating, Chinese New Year, Making totals

2019 is the Chinese Year of the Pig

Digit Dog is getting ready to celebrate Chinese New Year which begins on February 5th and ends on February 19th.

He has given Calculating Cat a lucky red envelope with some coins in it. See if you can work out how much money could be in the envelope.

red envelope

Extend the challenge with ideas in the latest challenge card – click here or download from

Posted in 2-sided beans, Calculating, Making totals

Reasoning about 5

Explore the number 5 using the 2-sided beans.

Making a set of two-sided beans is quick and easy.  Take a bag of dried butter beans (available in any supermarket), lay on newspaper and spray on one side with non-toxic spray paint in your chosen colour. Leave to dry and you’re ready to go.

Shake and Spill 

Using the beans to investigate ways to partition the number 5

5 beans

5 ffa



Take 5 beans and put in a cup. Shake the cup and spill the beans.

Say “I have….red beans and ……white beans. I have 5 beans altogether”.

Keep shaking and spilling and counting the number of red beans and the number of white beans.

How many different ways do the beans spill?

Ask children to think about how they can record what they have done. “How are you going to remember all the different ways?”

  • Record by using the beans themselves – put them on a large piece of paper, draw a circle around each combination.
  • Draw pictures of the beans.
  • Use digit cards and place them alongside the beans.
  • Match to Numicon shapes.
  • Match a number sentence.
  • Write a number sentence.
  • Use a part-whole diagram.

    Screenshot 2018-03-05 14.05.35
    Recording the two-sided beans

Encourage children to say how many of each colour there are without counting in ones – to subitise.

Posted in Calculating, Problem solving

Treasure Hunt

Collect the gold coins

How many gold coins can Digit Dog collect? Digit Dog is trying to collect the pirate’s gold coins. Here is a map of where the pirate keeps the coins (download and print your map here) 

Use the Digit Dog pirate counters to move on the board (download here)

screenshot 2019-01-07 18.14.29

There are 8 rooms and the number tells you how many coins are in each room. Digit Dog has to go into the rooms and collect the coins BUT he can only go into each room ONCE.

How many coins can Digit Dog collect?

How many different ways can he go though the rooms?

Can you record his routes? How might you do this?

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What’s the most coins you can collect?

What’s the smallest number of coins?

Look for children who are planning the routes and can explain their thinking.

Simplify the task

  1. Put gold coins in each room so that Digit Dog can collect them as he goes through. He can then count them at the end to find out how many he has.
  2. Put Numicon® shapes in each room so that Digit Dog can collect a shape when he has gone through the room. These can then be added together to find the total number of coins. Using the shapes encourages children to calculate rather than count in ones.

Screenshot 2018-12-04 16.58.53

I went to rooms 1, 2, 3, 7 and 8. How many coins did I collect altogether?

Screenshot 2018-12-04 17.01.28

I have put the shapes on the number line so that I can see the total without counting in ones.

Calculating Cat
Calculating Cat says that you can make 10s with the shapes and that makes it easy to find the total. 10, 20, 21


Screenshot 2018-12-04 16.59.30

Encourage children to use number bonds to find the totals.

3. Use the blank store and put just numbers 1, 2 and 3 in the rooms.

4. Put just Numicon® shapes or coins in the rooms – no numerals.

Extend the challenge

Use the blank store and put higher numbers in each room.

Challenge children to find all possible routes and to explain how they know they have found them.