Posted in Calculating, Making totals, Number sense

Using Numicon® to explore equivalences

equivalent shapes

The idea of equal value is fundamental to mathematical understanding. Children need to understand that the “=” symbol means “equal value” and not “here is the answer”.


How can you make the scales balance?

Which Numicon® shape could go in the pan balance?

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What about this one?

How are you going to solve it? Explain your thinking.

What if ……… changed the shapes?


Now using numerals.

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Can you model this with the pan balance and Numicon® shapes?

What’s the missing number? Explain how you know. Record the sentence.

Make up some of your own.

Make sets of problems like this to put with a pan balance in your enhanced provision.

Posted in Calculating, Christmas, Number sense, Numicon

Christmas Challenge – Day 2

Two Numicon® shapes – which shapes are in the Christmas sack?

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Show me 2 shapes that could be in the sack. Why do you think that? Are you sure? Convince me.

Are they the only 2 shapes it could be?

How many pairs could it be?

If I show you one of the shapes will you know for sure what the other one is?

Encourage children to explain their reasoning. At first, why don’t they know for sure which two shapes are in the sack? How many possible pairs can it be? Show one pair, and another, and another………..

When you know one shape, how can you be sure what the other shape is?


  1. Put one shape in the sack and give children clues so that they can work out which shape it is. An opportunity to model mathematical language.  My shape is:
    • one more / one less than………
    • two more/ two less than………
    • in between……
    • an odd/even number
    • If I add …and …..I get this number
    • If I take my number away from 10, I am left with……
    • The difference between my number and 6 is………
    • ……more than……
    • a multiple of ……….
    • a factor of………Get the children to ask questions about your shape to work out which one it is.
  2. Put 3 shapes in the sack. The total is 15 which shapes could they be? What if I show you 1 shape, how does that change your thinking?
  3. Vary the totals, vary the number of shapes.






Posted in Counting, Number sense, Subitising


Subitising is being able to look at a small set of objects (up to 5) and say how many there are without counting in ones. Once children can count objects reliably we want them to move onto subitising – an important step in the development of number sense.

Perceptual subitising – instantly recognising a small group of objects.

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How many Digit Dogs can you see?

Conceptual subitising – seeing smaller groups within a larger group to say how many there are without counting in ones.


I know there are 7 because I see 5 and 2 more.

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I know there are 7 because I can see 4 and 3 more.

Show these slides for a couple of seconds to practise subitising. Click once to reveal the image, click again for it to disappear.

Posted in Counting, Making totals, Number sense

Using flik-flaks to practise number bonds to 10

Use the flik-flaks as a quick way to practise number bonds to 10.


Show children the flik-flak and ask:

“How many dogs can you see?” “How did you count them?”

Count the dogs in each row. Ask questions such as “Which row has most dogs?” “Which row has the fewest dogs?” “Which row has one more than the bottom row?”

Before continuing, make sure children are confident that there are 10 dogs altogether.

Fold the flik-flak:



“How many dogs can you see now?”

“How many dogs are hidden?” “How do you know?” “Explain your thinking”.

“How many dogs altogether?”

Fold the flik-flak in a different way:

Ask the same questions.

“How many dogs can you see now?”

“How many dogs are hidden?” “How do you know?” “Explain your thinking”.

“How many dogs altogether?”


Keep folding the flik-flak to explore all the combinations of numbers to make 10.

I can see 1 dog. 9 dogs are hidden. 9 + 1 = 10
I can see 3 dogs. I know 7 are hidden because 3 +7 = 10.
I can see 7 dogs, so 3 dogs must be hidden because 3 + 7 = 10


Posted in Number sense

Daily maths practice with Digit Dog

What do children need to practise daily?

In order for children to develop computational fluency they need to have a daily routine where they practise:

  • Counting;
  • Remembered facts;
  • Using number relationships to do calculations.

Children need the opportunity to:

  • Talk mathematically;
  • Discuss and solve problems;
  • Be creative;
  • Use reasoning skills.

Follow Digit Dog for ideas to engage children in mathematical conversations.


Flik-flaks available to download from

This month: Using flik-flaks

Flik-flaks are a versatile resource that can be used in your daily maths practice session.

In small group situations, each child can have a flik-flak and respond to “show me….” questions. In whole class sessions, the adult can use the flik-flak as a focus for practising counting, number bonds and calculation skills.

Use flik-flaks to practise:

  • Counting
  • Subitising (recognising small amounts without counting)
  • Number bonds
  • Multiplication facts
  • Using mathematical language
  • Using reasoning skills.

Coming next: ideas for using flik-flaks – questions and activities.