numeracy leaders Jun 01, 2023

I am not sure about you, but I am a little late to the 'Numberblocks' TV series world! You would think with 4 children and my interest in maths education, I might be all over, this but I wasn’t! My children have spent many hours watching 'Bluey' (which I absolutely love), but I had not discovered 'Numberblocks' until my sister recommended it to me a few months ago.

'Numberblocks' is a UK based TV program and was developed by Joe Elliot and Blue-Zoo Animation Studio in collaboration with the BBC. The first season was shown in 2017 and 6 seasons that have been released (which means I am 6 years late to the party, but on the upside it also means I can binge watch 6 years of content!).

The premise of the show is all based around number characters 1-10 and the various adventures they have in 'Numberland'. But the thing that is most amazing is the depth of mathematical concepts that are embedded into the show. There is a major focus on part-part-whole, counting, subsisting and my children (and this adult) love the show and learn so much by osmosis!

The other day my Year 1 daughter said  "Mum do you know what the next square number after 100 is...I am trying to work it out". This was all sparked by an episode of 'Numberblocks' which explored square numbers!

As I am sure you know, square numbers are located in the Australian curriculum in Year 6, but a simple episode had my 6 old talking, thinking and engaging with this multiplicative idea! 

The mathematics consultant who has been involved in the creation of 'Numberblocks' is Dr. Rebecca Hanson. She is a UK based mathematician and educator. I am constantly impressed by the level of detail and accuracy in the show. Bravo Rebecca!

The episodes are only about 3 minutes long, but are so visually appealing and use some really catchy songs and rhymes!

I constantly find myself watching episodes and thinking… “Oh that is perfect for a lesson on doubling” or “ I would love to use this when I introduce triangular numbers”.

If you have a junior school class (F-2) I would suggest considering including an episode or two in your lesson plans (I would even argue they have a place in many senior classes where students can watch and explain the maths involved). The wonderful National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics site has some great support materials for teachers using Seasons 1,2 and 3 here.

Below are a few of my favourites episodes (we watch them through Netflix, so I have included the Season and Episode Numbers and episode name to help you find them if you can access Netflix at school? (this is the easiest way as they have the full episodes and in order). You can also access them through the ABC Kids App or iView if you are in Australia.

Alternatively, you can usually find episodes if you search in Youtube- (this isn't as easy!). For those of you who do not have access to Netflix, I have linked each to where I could find them on Youtube.

Introducing Multiplication: Season 3, Episode 27 (Fun Times Fair)

Introducing Partition Division: Season 3 Episode 28 (The Lair of Shares)

Introducing Doubles Season 2 Episode 9 (Double Trouble)

Introducing thousands and beyond (place value) Season 5 Episode 4 (One thousand and One)

Part- Part-Whole:(the song and visuals are so good!) Season 6 Episode 3 (Tens Top Ten)

I also love this episode which is a fun number mystery to solve (great for Foundation/Year 1 students) Season 2 Episode 30. I could imagine students being inspired to come up with their own number 'mystery' after watching this!  

But even if you don’t have the time to watch Numberblocks and find the relevant content to support your lesson, I suggest showing episodes as a wet day/eating lunch/'we are all packed up but there are still 3 minutes to the bell'  'time filler' for your students… they will love watching, and will be getting some bonus maths time in their day. Win, win!

P.S: Another great idea from one of my NTA members is to mention 'Numberblocks' to Foundation parents at intake interviews! Encourage parents to have their children watch episodes at home. Anything that infuses more early maths in their life is going to help them as they begin school!

Want to learn more from Dr Ange Rogers? Click here to find out about her 'Quality Place Value Assessment in Years 3-6 Mini Course'

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