Never heard of Numicon?!

Never heard of Numicon? You’re not alone! But ever since I introduced them to our school, my love for them has grown! Numicon are number plates that represent the numbers 1-10. They are a great manipulative for the Pre-K to Grade 2 population, in that they are large, easy to grasp and manipulate, colourful and engaging.


What are they good for?

Children can actively engage with the Numicon plates and pegs in order to reason mathematically.  Numicon resources help students do the following:

  1. Explore relationships between numbers
  2. Build fluency by thinking flexibly
  3. Communicate mathematically
  4. Make generalizations

Numicon doesn’t stop there; it also helps build skills! For example: one to one correspondence, sorting, counting, grouping, place value, representing numbers in different ways, ordering numbers, finding patterns, recognizing odds and evens, problem-solving, working through different operations, equivalence, commutative property and even number lines! It is also easy to differentiate with Numicon by varying the challenge or the target numbers.

So I think the better question is what aren’t they good for?!

Using them in Pre-K

Here is a video of Oliver and I exploring Numicon. Scroll through the video to see how we used Numicon to:

  • Count
  • Make connections and matches
  • Order numbers
  • Look for patterns
  • Show one to one correspondence
  • Subitize
  • Introduce a number line
  • Reason mathematically
  • Communicate mathematically
  • Make comparisons
  • And problem-solve!

Would I usually do all this in one lesson? Absolutely not, but I wanted to give you a BIG taste of the BIG ideas, all made possible with Numicon!

Using them in Grade One

Here is a video of Rory and I exploring Numicon at the Grade One level.  In the classroom, I would have done these activities as centers for the students to explore. Below is a quick explanation as well as a description of ways to extend each activity.

  • Numicon operations: Goal: practice addition (put plates together) and subtraction (find the difference using pegs). Roll the dice, make the equation, use Numicon plates (addition) and pegs (subtraction) to find the equation. Extension: combine dice.
  • Numicon: Build a structure that is worth 20! Goal: adding numbers, thinking flexibly about numbers. Extensions: use the least/most number of plates, or make it the tallest/shortest, or include the pegs in your count, or only count pegs and not plates.
  • Numicon Number bonds: Goal: practicing number bonds to 10. Roll a 10-sided dice, find all the ways to make that number. Record them in a number bond on an erasable number bond. Show your work. Extension: Roll the dice and find the corresponding number bond that can only be made in that many ways. For example, roll a 2. Only a 3 can be made 2 ways: 3+0 or 2+1.

Want advice on how to use them in other grades? Just ask! Have advice on how else to use them? Please share!

Now that you’ve heard of Numicon, go out and get them! They’re not cheap, but they are worth every penny!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s