Maths in Stampers

Maths in Stampers

Numicon in Reception

Siobhan has been going in to reception with small groups of children after lunch (when the current reception children are out of the room), to do a little bit of Numicon and have a little play to start getting to know the room before September. The children often get a chance to chat to the reception teachers too.

Numicon is a very hands on system of encouraging mathematical understanding, which can be used with very young children as well as much older children too.

There is a shape/colour for each number 1-10, with the corresponding number of holes in each. Numbers are very abstract and often hard to get the hang of. The children are learning them by shape, colour, counting holes, feel….in all sorts of ways. Some children are fitting the number shapes on to a board – they are having to use their judgement of size and shape to see which one might fit.



One is building with number shapes. We have a set of large beads which fit into the holes – or sometimes we use small pom moms, or thread them on string, or play with them in water or sand or play dough etc.


One of my favourite activities with the number shapes is seeing which number shapes fit together on top of the number ten shape. So they are learning that a four and a six fit together and make the same shape as a ten; or a three and a seven etc.

As well as the number shapes, we have some number rods, trays and a long thing for the rods to fit in. This gives lots of opportunities to explore shape and size – one child is wondering whether her rod will fit in her tray. Another is making a very long line of rods. Another has chosen rods of the same size, along with some tiny cubes – giving him the opportunity to compare them.

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We are still very new to Numicon and look forward to continuing to learn ways in which we can use it. If you would like to come in and have a play with it yourself, you would be very welcome – it’s fun!

Number Songs with props

Meanwhile, our younger children have been learning number songs with a few added props to help keep their attention. We started with ‘Ten in the bed’…

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…and last week we were doing ‘Five Little Speckled Frogs’…

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As well as more guided activities like the above, we aim to incorporate mathematical thinking into most of our activity as the opportunity arises. For example, experimenting with the angle of a long gutter tube leaning against a fence to change the speed a ball rolls down it – and hence whether the ball lands in a tub placed to catch it; using crates and large wooden blocks to build with; designing recipes in the mud kitchen – using a variety of different sized scoops for measuring with. One of the most important skills of our Early Years Practitioners is recognising these opportunities and enhancing them – maybe just by sharing the experience with the child, perhaps adding vocabulary to help develop language; maybe by asking ‘what if we try this?’ or ‘I wonder what would happen if you do this?’ Or maybe by adding a resource to extend the learning taking place – for example a ruler for measuring the height of the bean plants if a child comments on how big it has grown.