Discovering Numicon: A Hands-on Approach to Math Learning

Mathematics is a subject that can be both exciting and challenging for students of all ages. To foster a deep understanding of mathematical concepts and build a strong foundation, educators are constantly seeking innovative and engaging new teaching methods. Numicon is a great way to do this.

Numicon is a versatile Math resource. Designed to aid young learners with basic Math skills such as counting, addition and subtraction. 

In this blog, we will explore what Numicon is, what its positive impacts are on children’s learning, how Japari school integrates it into the classroom learning setting and how parents can integrate Numicon at home.

What is Numicon? 

Numicon numbers and how it works

Numicon is more than just a set of colourful shapes. It’s a powerful teaching tool designed to make Math learning more accessible, engaging, and enjoyable. The shapes represent numbers and mathematical ideas, making it easier for students to visualise and engage with Math.

Numicon is often used to teach basic Math skills, such as counting, addition, subtraction, and more, in a hands-on and interactive way. It is particularly beneficial for young learners, as it makes abstract Math concepts more concrete and accessible.

Here’s a brief overview of what Numicon is and what makes it special:

Pupils playing with Numicon patterns

Visual Learning

The use of colourful, tactile Numicon pieces facilitates visual learning, making abstract mathematical concepts tangible and easy to understand. These visual aids are particularly beneficial for younger pupils who are just starting their mathematical journey. By engaging both their visual and tactile senses, Numicon helps them form a strong foundation of mathematical understanding.

Visual aids have been shown to improve memory retention and concept comprehension. When pupils can physically manipulate and interact with the Math concepts they’re learning, they are more likely to remember and understand them. 

Numicon’s visual appeal is especially useful when teaching concepts like number recognition, place value, and basic operations.

Hands-On Exploration

Identifying numbers with Numicon

One of the key elements that make Numicon so amazing is its hands-on nature. Pupils love to explore and manipulate the Numicon shapes, and this interactive approach transforms Math into a playful, enjoyable experience. This hands-on exploration is not only engaging but also effective in helping pupils grasp complex mathematical concepts.

When pupils physically move and arrange the Numicon pieces to solve problems, they are actively engaging with the material. This active involvement fosters a deeper understanding of mathematical principles and helps build problem-solving skills. For young learners, it can make Math feel like play, which is essential in developing a positive attitude towards the subject.


Numicon’s versatility is a significant asset. It can be used in various ways to explore a wide range of Math topics, from basic arithmetic to more advanced concepts. This adaptability ensures that pupils can use it throughout their mathematical journey, from the early stages of learning to more complex problem-solving.

In the early stages, Numicon can be used to teach fundamental concepts like counting, number recognition, and basic arithmetic operations. As pupils progress, it can be adapted to support learning in areas such as fractions, decimals, percentages, and geometry. This flexibility allows teachers to use Numicon to meet the specific needs and levels of their pupils.


Pupils working together

Numicon is an inclusive tool that caters to a diverse range of learning styles. It accommodates visual, kinesthetic, and auditory learners, ensuring that every pupil has the opportunity to excel in Math.

Read our blog on: Understanding Your Child’s Learning Style: A Guide for Parents. For more information on which learning style your child has. 

Visual Learners: Visual learners benefit from the colourful, visually appealing shapes that help them associate mathematical concepts with visual representations.

Kinesthetic Learners: Kinesthetic learners, who learn best through physical interaction, can manipulate the Numicon pieces to better understand Math concepts. This hands-on approach suits their learning style perfectly.

Auditory Learners: Even auditory learners can benefit from Numicon when it’s combined with explanations and verbal instruction. The visual and tactile aids can support the verbal teaching methods.

By providing a multi-sensory approach to Math education, Numicon ensures that no pupil is left behind, and each can find a way to connect with and comprehend mathematical ideas.

Confidence Building

Confidence is a crucial factor in a pupil’s success in mathematics. When pupils have confidence in their Math skills, they are more likely to engage actively in Math lessons and perform better in assessments. It plays a significant role in building this confidence.

As pupils use Numicon to solve problems and master Math concepts, they gain a sense of accomplishment. 

This success breeds confidence, and confident pupils are more likely to take on new challenges and tackle more complex mathematical problems with enthusiasm. Numicon’s visual and tactile approach makes Math accessible and less intimidating, which is particularly important for pupils who may have previously struggled with the subject.

Positive Impacts of Numicon on Children’s Learning

Visiulaising patterns and numbers

Numicon has a significant impact on children’s learning, and the positive outcomes are evident in both educational settings and at home. Here are some of the key positive impacts:

  1. Improved Engagement: Numicon’s hands-on nature and colourful, tactile shapes captivate children’s attention and make math more engaging. As a result, pupils are more motivated to participate actively in Math lessons and explore mathematical concepts.
  2. Enhanced Understanding: The visual and tactile nature of Numicon aids in comprehension. Pupils can physically manipulate the pieces to grasp abstract concepts, leading to a deeper understanding of Math.
  3. Confidence Boost: As children successfully use Numicon to solve Math problems and gain a better understanding of Math, their confidence in their math abilities grows. This boost in self-assurance is invaluable for their overall educational journey.
  4. Enhanced Problem-Solving Skills: Numicon encourages children to experiment and explore Math concepts. This fosters problem-solving skills, which are valuable not only in math but also in other areas of education and life.
  5. Individualised Learning: Numicon’s versatility allows for individualised learning experiences. Teachers can tailor their teaching to each child’s unique needs, ensuring that every pupil can progress at their own pace.
  6. Positive Attitude Towards Math: By making Math feel like play and reducing the intimidation factor, Numicon nurtures a positive attitude towards Math. Children are more likely to see math as a fun and enjoyable subject rather than a source of anxiety.

How do we integrate Numicon at Japari School?

Pupils working with Numicon at Japari school

At Japari School, we have experienced firsthand how Numicon has revolutionised math education in our classrooms. The impact on our pupils has been nothing short of remarkable. Numicon has ignited a passion for Math in our pupils and transformed the way they approach the subject.

It has the power to spark curiosity, encourage critical thinking, and nurture a genuine love for Math. 

Numicon is often implemented in our foundation phase as one of our comprehensive approaches to teaching Mathematics.

Our teachers utilise a variety of resources, including worksheets, physical shapes, and interactive online activities to impart mathematical concepts through the Numicon approach. Beyond regular classroom instruction, it is also employed as an intervention programmme to support pupils who may be facing challenges in Math.

By using Numicon at Japari school, we have seen an increased interest in mathematics and problem solving. 

Flexible Learning Spaces

Our classrooms are equipped with flexible learning areas where pupils can choose their preferred seating options. From chairs to cushions and poufs, we provide a variety of choices to accommodate diverse learning preferences. 

Pupils are encouraged to select a learning space that aligns with their comfort and concentration, all while adhering to class agreements that promote respectful and productive behaviour.

Math and Literacy Excellence

In our quest to provide a top-notch education, we follow the enhanced CAPS curriculum. We place a strong emphasis on Math and Literacy, which are taught in small groups. 

Numicon is an integral part of our approach, enabling pupils to progress from basic counting to comprehensive mathematical understanding.

Continuous Progress Tracking

We believe in monitoring progress continuously. Formal reports are issued  three times a year to keep parents informed about their child’s academic journey. Furthermore, we invite parents to actively participate in their child’s learning through parent conferences.

School Readiness Assessment

Our potential Grade 1 pupils  undergo a comprehensive school readiness assessment. This assessment provides both teachers and parents with a clear overview of academic progress before entering formal schooling, allowing us to address any identified gaps proactively.

At Japari School, we’re committed to providing a dynamic, engaging, and comprehensive educational experience that prepares pupils for a successful academic journey while fostering a love for Maths and critical thinking. 

Integrating Numicon at Home 

Japari school pupil working with numicon

Parents play a vital role in their children’s education, and Numicon can be a valuable tool for reinforcing Math skills at home. Here are some ways parents can integrate Numicon into their children’s learning routines:

Hands-On Activities

Use Numicon pieces for hands-on activities at home. You can create simple Math problems and encourage your child to solve them using Numicon shapes. 

For example, you can ask them to use the shapes to add or subtract numbers, helping them visualise the numbers. 

Number Recognition

Help your child recognise numbers using Numicon. Arrange the pieces in numerical order, and encourage your child to say the numbers as they touch each shape. You can also create fun games to reinforce number recognition skills.

Counting Practice

Numicon can be a fantastic tool for counting practice. Have your child count the number of holes in each piece or arrange them in groups to teach counting in multiples.

Basic Operations

Introduce your child to basic Math operations like addition and subtraction using Numicon. You can create small Math problems and guide them through using the shapes to solve them.

Math Stories

Create Math stories or scenarios where Numicon shapes represent characters or objects. This can make Math more relatable and enjoyable for children as they engage in imaginative play.

Incorporate into Daily Life

Find opportunities to integrate Numicon into daily life. For example, when cooking, involve your child in measuring and using Numicon pieces to understand fractions and measurements.

Reward System

Create a reward system where children earn tokens for solving math problems or accomplishing Math-related tasks. These tokens can be exchanged for small rewards or privileges.

Educational Games

There are various educational games and resources available that incorporate Numicon. Consider investing in Numicon-based games or books designed to enhance Math learning at home.


Numicon at Japari school

Numicon is a remarkable tool that has transformed Math education by making it more accessible, engaging, and enjoyable. Its positive impact on children’s learning make it a valuable resource in educational settings. 

Parents can also play a significant role by integrating Numicon into their children’s learning routines at home, further enhancing their Math skills and fostering a positive attitude towards Math.

As we continue to embrace innovative teaching methods and engage with parents in the educational journey, we can look forward to a brighter, more mathematically confident future for our pupils. 

Numicon is indeed a powerful tool that has the potential to change the way Japari school approaches mathematical education.

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