February 1st 2022 is the beginning of the Year of the Tiger

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

You will need the tiger 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 tiger in any way you can. You could copy Digit Dog and Calculating cat.

What do you notice about the ways they have covered the tiger? Which shapes did they use? How many shapes? What is the same and what is different?

How many different ways can you cover the tiger? Describe what you’ve done.

Compare your tiger 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?

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

Can you cover the tiger 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?

Play What’s missing? with Digit Dog.

Digit Dog and Calculating Cat have removed one shape from their tiger. Which shape do you think it is? Why do you think that?

Could you fill that space with more than one shape? Which ones?

Play the game with a friend. Cover your tigers with shapes. Player 1 close your eyes, player 2 take away one shape. Player 1 say which shape is missing and explain how you know.

Feely bag challenge

Put some shapes in a feely bag, take them out one at a time and place on the tiger. 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, to reason why they have chosen certain shapes.
• 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 tigers together and ask “what is the same?” “what is different?”

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

This is the latest addition to the popular Cover with Numicon® series.

You can explore the other activities here: Santa’s Sleigh, Christmas Tree, Baubles and Presents.

For this activity you will need a Rudolph (download and print) and Numicon® shapes.

Get some Numicon® shapes and see if you can cover Rudolph’s head.

Can you explain how you did it? Which shapes did you choose first and why? What did you notice? Are some shapes more useful than others?

How many different ways can you find to cover Rudolph’s head? Compare your Rudolph with your friend’s. What’s the same and what’s different about the two Rudolphs?

How many shapes have you used? Who has used most shapes? Who has used fewest?

What is the total of all the shapes you have used?

Can you cover Rudolph using only odd shapes? Why or why not? What about even shapes?

Can you use one shape repeatedly to cover Rudolph? Which shapes will work? Which won’t? Why?

Look for learners who:

Show strategic competence by understanding and tackling the task; by trying different ways of doing it and seeing which ways work.

Use logical reasoning to try different shapes and explain their thinking; are becoming systematic in their choices of shapes; can reason about which shapes will/will not fit; substitute shapes so that they have more or fewer, rather than starting from scratch each time; talk about similarities and differences.

Communicate mathematically about what they are doing; can describe the shapes and say which are bigger/smaller, too big/too small.

Can confidently and fluently choose shapes to fit the spaces on the board; can recognise the spatial patterns and find the shapes that fit.

Posted in Chinese New Year, Logical reasoning, Numicon

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?

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).

Posted in Christmas, Numicon, Problem solving

Baubles again

These baubles have a larger space to cover with Numicon shapes.

Ask learners to use the Numicon shapes to cover the space in any way they can.

How many different ways can you do it? Compare your bauble with your friend’s. What’s the same and what’s different?

What is the total of the shapes you have used? Can you wite a number sentence to record what you have done?

Digit Dog didn’t use any shape more than once? Can you try this? How many ways can you do it? Is this more difficult? What are you thinking?

Can you use one shape repeatedly to cover the bauble? Which shapes will work? Which won’t? Why?

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

What if you use only odd shapes? Only even shapes?

Look for learners who:

• can reason about which shapes to use,
• can discuss what they are doing and explain their thinking,
• can work systematically,
• can see patterns and discuss why they are choosing particular shapes,
• can substitute shapes so that they have more or fewer, rather than starting from scratch each time,
• can talk about similarities and differences.

Posted in Christmas, Numicon, Problem solving

Christmas Baubles

If you enjoyed Cover Santa’s Sleigh and Cover the Christmas Tree, here’s another version of the activities.

You need:

• copies of the baubles (download and print – make sure you set the print scale at 100% so that the shapes are the corect size)
• a set of Numicon® shapes.

Match the shapes to the spaces on the bauble.

1. Give learners a limited number of shapes to choose from to match the spaces on the bauble.  Can they find the shapes they need?
2. Have a complete set of shapes for children to choose from.
3. When the bauble is covered, one partner closes their eyes, the other takes away one shape. Which one is missing? Can you find it in the pile of shapes?
4. For an extra challenge, put the shapes in a feely bag and find the ones you need by touch alone.
5. Ask: Why does Calculating Cat think there might be more than one way of covering the shapes?

As learners are working, ask them to explain their thinking.

Why did you choose that shape?

How many shapes do you need?

Which shape do you think will fit here…..? Is it bigger than the orange shape?

Is the shape that goes here big or small? Bigger / smaller than a pink one?

Can you take away one shape and put two in its place?

Posted in Christmas, Numicon, Problem solving

Can you use the Numicon shapes to cover the Christmas tree?

This is a variation on the popular Cover Santa’s Sleigh activity.

You will need a Christmas tree (download and print) and Numicon® shapes.

Start with the blank Christmas tree and ask learners to use the Numicon shapes to cover it in any way they can.

Ask learners to explain how they covered the tree. Which shapes did they choose first and why? What did they notice? Are some shapes more useful than others?

How many different ways can you find to do it? Compare your tree with your friend’s. What’s the same and what’s different?

How many shapes have you used? Who has used most shapes? Who has used fewest?

Can you cover the tree using only odd shapes? Why or why not? What about even shapes?

Can you use one shape repeatedly to cover the tree? Which shapes will work? Which won’t? Why?

Can you cover the tree using each shape at least once?

Look for learners who:

• can reason about which shapes to use,
• can explain their thinking,
• can work systematically,
• can see patterns and discuss why they are choosing particular shapes,
• can substitute shapes so that they have more or fewer, rather than starting from scratch each time,
• can talk about similarities and differences.
Posted in Calculating, Making totals, Numicon

Total 6

Total 6 is an extension of Investigating totals

Put the shapes on the grid but this time each row, column and diagonal has to total 6.

You might want to start by:

1. Just making each row total 6. Then try
2. Just making each column total 6. Follow this by
3. Making both the rows and columns total 6, and finally
4. Include the diagonals too.

Which shapes are you using in each row / column? Why?

Is there more than one way of completing the grid?

Look at your partner’s grid. What is the same and what is different?

Make the task more challenging:

1. Use digit cards instead of the shapes.
2. Don’t give the total – Can you put the Numicon shapes on the grid so that each row, column and diagonal add to the same total?

What do you think the total might be? Why?

How are you going to start? What are you going to try first?

What if.……..you used three different consecutive shapes?

3 twos, 3 threes and 3 fours                                 3 threes, 3 fours and 3 fives

or

What will the totals of each row be now?

Posted in Calculating, Making totals, Numicon

Investigating totals

Digit Dog has got a 3 x 3 grid and 9 Numicon shapes – 3 one shapes, 3 two shapes and 3 three shapes. He is going to put the shapes on the grid and investigate the totals he can make.

This is what he does first:

Copy what Digit Dog has done.

Digit Dog says that the sum of the shapes in the first row is 6. Do you agree with Digit Dog? Why or why not? Are you sure?

Expecting learners to explain their thinking helps develop their reasoning skills.

If you agree, convince me that Digit Dog is correct. If you don’t agree, explain why you think he is wrong.

Encourage learners to explain why the total of the first row is 6. Use the Numicon shapes to show that the 3 shapes in the first row are equivalent to a six-shape. Explanations are much easier when you use concrete apparatus.

Use the pan balance to explain.

Calculating Cat says that the total of the shapes in the third column is 6 too. Is she right? How do you know?

What is the same and what is different about Digit Dog’s row and Calculating Cat’s column?

Can you find any other rows or columns that total 6? Are there any that total more than 6? What about less than 6?

Can you find a row or column that totals 1 more than 6? What about 1 less than 6?

What else do you notice?

Find a way to record the totals you have found?

Now arrange the shapes on the grid in any way you want and investigate the totals that you make. What do you notice? What is the largest total you can make? The smallest total?

Look at a grid your friend has done. What is the same? What is different?

What if you used other shapes?

Making 10

Look at the Numicon shapes and find pairs of shapes that make 10. Check that you are correct by placing each pair on top of the ten shape.

Put your pairs in order.

What do you notice? What patterns can you see?

Say an addition sentence for each pair e.g. 1 add 9 equals 10.

Write an addition sentence e.g. 1 + 9 = 10.

Say a subtraction sentence e.g. 10 take away 1 equals 9.

Write a subtraction sentence e.g. 10 – 1 = 9.

Play What’s Missing?

Set out your pairs like Digit Dog and Calculating Cat.

Player 1 closes their eyes, Player 2 removes one shape and says “what’s missing?”

Player 1 works out what shape is missing and explains how they know.

For more Numicon activities visit Oxford Owl for Home Maths.

Download and print the free Numicon shapes and the Numicon at Home Activity Kit for Years 1 and 2.

Posted in Easter, Numicon, Problem solving

Collecting eggs

Digit Dog is collecting eggs from the Easter Bunny’s store. Here is a map of the store. (download and print your store here

Digit Dog counters

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

How many  can Digit Dog collect?

How many different ways can he go though the store?

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

Can you do it a different way, Digit Dog, and collect more eggs?

What’s the most eggs you can collect?

What’s the smallest number of eggs?

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

Make it easier

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

2. Put mini-eggs in the rooms and collect them.

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 all.

Easter animals

For those of you who enjoyed the Chinese New Year activity Cover the animals, here’s an Easter version.

Digit Dog and Calculating Cat are using the Numicon® shapes to cover the picture of the Easter Chick .

You will need the Chick picture (download and print on yellow paper) and a set of Numicon® shapes. Ask learners to use the Numicon® shapes to cover the chick in any way they can.

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

Compare your chick 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?

Play What’s missing?

1. When the chick is covered with shapes, one child closes their eyes, another takes away one shape. Which one is missing? How do you know?
2. Put some shapes in a feely bag, take them out one at a time and place on the chick. Can you find the shapes you want by touch alone?  This helps with visualising the shapes.

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

Can you cover the chick again but 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?

Can you use one shape repeatedly to cover the chick? Which shapes will work? Which won’t? Why?

Encourage learners to describe and explain what they are doing.

Look for those learners who have a strategy for choosing shapes and those who use trial and improvement.

Look for learners who swap shapes for other equivalent shapes each time they look for a new arrangement rather than starting from the beginning.

Encourage learners to put all their completed chicks together and ask “what is the same?” “what is different?”

Try the same activities with the Easter Bunny  (download here).

Posted in Chinese New Year, Numicon, Problem solving

It’s the Year of the Rat

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

You will need the rat picture (download here) and a set of Numicon® shapes. Ask learners to use the Numicon® shapes to cover the rat in any way they can.

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

Compare your rat 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?

1. When the rat is covered, one child closes their eyes, another takes away one shape. Which one is missing? How do you know?
2. Put some shapes in a feely bag, take them out one at a time and place on the rat. Can you find the ones you want by touch alone?  This helps with visualising the shapes.

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

Can you cover the rat 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?

Encourage learners to describe and explain what they are doing.

Look for those learners who had a strategy for choosing shapes and those who did it randomly.

Look for learners who swap shapes for other equivalent shapes each time they look for a new arrangement rather than starting from the beginning.

Encourage learners to 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).