## 2021 is the Year of the Ox

It’s the Chinese year of the ox and Digit Dog and Calculating Cat are using the *Numicon®* shapes to cover the picture of the ox.

You will need the ox picture (download here – make sure you print at 100% so that it is the right size for the shapes) and a set of *Numicon®* shapes. If you don’t have the plastic shapes you can download a set of printable *Numicon®* shapes here.

Use the *Numicon®* shapes to cover the ox in any way you can.

*How many different ways can you do it? Describe what you’ve done.*

*Compare your ox with your friend’s. What’s the same and what’s different? How did you check that your way was different from your friend’s?*

**Ask:**

*How did you cover the ox? How many shapes did you use? Talk about how you chose the shapes. Which shapes were most useful?*

*Can you cover the ox again, using different shapes?*

*How many different ways can you do it?*

*What is the fewest number of shapes you can use? The most?*

*Can you just use odd shapes? Even shapes?
*

*What if you weren’t allowed to use the same shape more than once? How many ways can you do it? Is this more difficult? What are you thinking?*

**What’s missing?**

When the ox is covered, player 1 closes their eyes, player 2 takes away one shape. Player 1 says which shape is missing and explains how they know.

**Feely bag challenge**

Put some shapes in a feely bag, take them out one at a time and place on the ox. Can you find the shapes you want by touch alone? This helps with visualising the shapes.

**Challenge learners to:**

- describe and explain what they are doing.
- have a strategy for choosing shapes rather than do it randomly.
- swap shapes for other equivalent shapes each time they look for a new arrangement rather than starting from the beginning.
- put all their completed rats together and
**ask**“what is the same?” “what is different?”

Try the same activities with the other animals (download here).