This feature brings together tasks that require, to differing degrees, use of counters. Counters are a wonderful resource that can be used in mathematics in a number of ways, for example to show patterns, to model our thinking or to keep track of moves. There are two articles to read - the first offers guidance about use of manipulatives generally and the second explains why we have selected these particular activities and how counters support children's mathematical understanding in each case.
In this article for teachers, Jenni Back offers research-based guidance about the use of manipulatives in the classroom.
This article for primary teachers outlines how using counters can support mathematical teaching and learning.

Number Lines 

Age 5 to 7 Challenge Level:
Leah and Tom each have a number line. Can you work out where their counters will land? What are the secret jumps they make with their counters?

Biscuit Decorations 

Age 5 to 11 Challenge Level:
Andrew decorated 20 biscuits to take to a party. He lined them up and put icing on every second biscuit and different decorations on other biscuits. How many biscuits weren't decorated?

Making Shapes 

Age 5 to 7 Challenge Level:
Arrange any number of counters from these 18 on the grid to make a rectangle. What numbers of counters make rectangles? How many different rectangles can you make with each number of counters?


Age 7 to 11 Challenge Level:
Investigate the different shaped bracelets you could make from 18 different spherical beads. How do they compare if you use 24 beads?

Square Corners 

Age 7 to 11 Challenge Level:
What is the greatest number of counters you can place on the grid below without four of them lying at the corners of a square?

First Connect Three 

Age 7 to 14 Challenge Level:
The idea of this game is to add or subtract the two numbers on the dice and cover the result on the grid, trying to get a line of three. Are there some numbers that are good to aim for?