Counting with Numicon – Using Autumn Nuts
Counting with Numicon or Ten Frame Towers are a great way to help children learn the value of numbers. Numicon can allow children to subitize (recognize the number of objects in a group without having to count them) or to practice recognizing the values. They can also be a great ‘scaffold’, allowing allowing children to do a task they wouldn’t be able to do independently. In this case, using Numicon can help children count out a set number of objects from a larger group. This is a harder task than just counting a group of objects. They need to be able to count and remember when to stop. Numicon help children to do this as they can count the objects as they fill up the holes and automatically stop when they are full.
Taking the acorns, leaves and other nuts that they find in nature is a great way for children to use them for learning. They tend to be very drawn to these interesting objects which are a great (and free) resource!
It is always nice to provide a range of different objects for children to count as they may be drawn towards different things.
As an extra challenge children can also be provided with numerals (such as number rocks). They can choose either the numicon or the numeral, and then match the numeral or Numicon respectively.
Counting with Numicon – What you need
- Acorns, chestnuts, mini pine cones or other autumn objects
- Numbers or number rocks (optional).
Questions to ask
- What number do you have? Can you match it with the numeral?
- What numeral do you have? Can you match it with the Numicon?
- Which is larger/ bigger / has the greater value?
- Which is smaller / has the least value?
Counting with Numicon – What they get from it
Using Numicon also allows children to see what the value of numbers look like. They can connect it to counting each hole as they fill it. They can also see how the numbers relate to one another. It makes it possible to quickly understand that the number three is one more than two and one less than four. Then they can also see how three goes in-between two and four.
Take it further
Once children are confident counting out a set number of objects from a larger group by using a support or scaffold such as the Numicon, they can begin to do this more independently. See my post on How to Teach Children to Count.
Children can also do this activity with number bonds to find which numbers can be added together to make the total (see picture above with 3 and 5 Numicon to make the equivalent 8).