Skip over navigation
Guide and features
Guide and features
Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics
Featured Early Years Foundation Stage; US Kindergarten
Featured UK Key Stage 1&2; US Grades 1-4
Featured UK Key Stage 3-5; US Grades 5-12
Featured UK Key Stage 1, US Grade 1 & 2
Featured UK Key Stage 2; US Grade 3 & 4
Featured UK Key Stages 3 & 4; US Grade 5-10
Featured UK Key Stage 4 & 5; US Grade 11 & 12
Numbers Numbers Everywhere!
Stage: 1 and 2
Article by Bernard Bagnall
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.
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 ,f
rom 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;
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.
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 $12$.
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.
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?
rom July $2000$.
This challenges by showing mirror images and asking what the time is. There's opportunity to take this much further.
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".
Then there are the pages in books for older children.
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
(E) Finally, House Numbers.
(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 -
on them may help.
This article, slightly edited, also appears in Primary Mathematics, a journal published by
The Mathematical Association
Trial and improvement
Addition & subtraction
Properties of numbers
Factors and multiples
Multiplication & division
Meet the team
The NRICH Project aims to enrich the mathematical experiences of all learners. To support this aim, members of the NRICH team work in a wide range of capacities, including providing professional development for teachers wishing to embed rich mathematical tasks into everyday classroom practice. More information on many of our other activities can be found here.
Register for our mailing list
Copyright © 1997 - 2014. University of Cambridge. All rights reserved.
NRICH is part of the family of activities in the
Millennium Mathematics Project