Published December 2011,February 2011.

I think it's a good idea to take some number work from the numbers we see in the world around us. We often do lots of things related to the practical when we have to do some counting or tallying to see how many articles there are, but I'm thinking more of seeing actual Numerals about the place. We see digital displays of the time and prices [petrol prices displayed on the road side], we see numbers on clocks, houses and pages.

(A) But I'd like to start with the numbers we see on calendars.

Calendar
Activities from Jan $2001$ may be a good article and series of
ativities to start with,

This article suggests you don't get
rid of your old calendars. The activities, using cut up dates from
the calendar, provide numbers to practise skills that need
re-visiting. The children choose a page from an old calendar and
they chose from that page some numbers from which they are set
various challenges.

--------------------

Calendar Patterns
,from Jan $2000$

This activity is a great example of how patterns and numbers
may be investigated in the context of a page from a calendar and
doing some observation and calculations related to how the numbers
appear.

--------------------

Calendar Calculations
, from Jan $2001$

As well as being used as a follow on from Calendar Patterns it
could be revisited several times, trying different approaches each
time. The children can discuss discoveries and suggest new things
to try. It uses the dates within a week and sets some challenges
for pupils to solve.

--------------------

Calendar Capers .
from Jan $2002$.

In investigating a square of nine numbers found on a calendar
the pupils are asked to identify various relationshsips using some
"game type" moves. They are asked to find any similarity between
the three by three square and the totals they get in the rows and
columns and the four by four square. Based on the results, they can
be asked about the predictions can be made about the sum of the
right and left columns or the top and bottom rows. Tthen there are
general questions like; Will it matter what month is chosen? What
if a different square of numbers is chosen? What is the largest
square that can be found in a month? What would happen if they
changed from investigating a square to investigating a rectangle?
What if, for example, a $3x4$ rather than a $4x3$ rectangle is
used?

--------------------

(B) What about the clocks that we see around us? There's
both the digital and analogue to explore. Have a look at;Times
from Aug $1999$

This activity explores the way that numbers are displayed on a
digital clock. It involves a lot of spatial awareness and suggests
that pupils look for further interesting numeral arrangements. This
can be done by "trial and error" but promotes systematic approaches
and can involve some astute thinking.

--------------------

Clock Face from
Nov $1998$

This problem requires logical and creative thinking. It is
also an intriguing and challenging way to practise addition and
subtraction.The children are asked to look at an analogue clock
face and asked to consider the numbers $1$ to $12$.

--------------------

Clock Squares from
March $2000$

This explores the whole area of arithmetic that counts in an
alternative way - modulo or clock arithmetic. It enables a lot of
number work to be done with what appears to be single digit
numbers.

--------------------

Clocked from Nov
$2000$

This challenges with the question - Is it possible to
rearrange the numbers 1, 2 ...12 around a clock face in such a way
that every two numbers in adjacent positions differ by any of 3, 4
or 5 hours?

--------------------

Clocks from July
$2000$.

This challenges by showing mirror images and asking what the
time is. There's opportunity to take this much further.

--------------------

(C)

Calcunos from July
$1999$

This puts together an investigation around anything that
displays digital numbers, such as time, money, car instrument
displays, counting devices, etc. It involves counting
"light-bars".

--------------------

(D)

Then there are the pages in books for older children.

Page Numbers Jan
$1999$

A good number investigation that is centred around the numbering of
pages in a book which is very easy to take further.--------------------

and a general one on consecutive numbers as found in pages of a
book called Consecutive Numbers
(Nov $1997$).--------------------

(E) Finally, House Numbers.

Street Sequences
(March $2007$, April $2007$,)

This explores addition of different combinations of nearby
house numbers.

--------------------

So, there are probably other places around where you are where
there are numbers that can be explored. Have a go at these
activities and look around for other examples of numerals to be
found in our homes and outside. Many of these activities have
generated some interesting patterns of numbers that may be explored
further by using Digital Roots - this
article on them may help.This article, slightly edited, also appears in Primary Mathematics, a journal published by The Mathematical Association.