A Numberblocks Numberblog: reaching One Hundred

Mathematics can be a tricky subject… for grownups. Unfortunately, many adults grow up to think of maths as tedious at best and intimidating at worst. It’s not helpful to be confronted by this feeling when we’re faced with unavoidable tasks, such as measuring up a room or working out our share of a restaurant bill.

So it’s important to remember that – free of all this unhelpful baggage – our children can find numbers both fascinating and even entertaining! If carers and educators approach things in the right way, children won’t be intimidated or confused by maths. 

My granddaughter Daisy has made significant progress with her numeracy this year and the CBeebies show Numberblocks has had no small part to play in sparking her curiosity and drive to learn to count higher and higher.

Daisy’s century

Numberblocks follows ‘a fun-loving group of numbers who work together to solve problems big and small’. The programme is well-established among Daisy’s evolving viewing preferences; she even has particular favourite episodes like the ‘one-off’ number Nineteen making her ‘crazy shapes’ (series four) and One Hundred (series four).

A Numberblocks 2020 annual is pictured, alongside some Numberblocks toys and multicoloured Mathlink Cubes
Numberblocks – which follows ‘a fun-loving group of numbers who work together to solve problems big and small’ – has been a big hit with Daisy, on television and in print

Previously, Daisy and I have talked about numbers using the 100 number board so, during a recent visit with us, I asked her if we could watch that Numberblocks ‘One Hundred’ episode together, and continue that conversation.  

She agreed, and afterwards we talked about how big 100 is and made comparisons with some of the small numbers that Daisy could recall. 

Daisy asked if we could make the one-hundred-block square that she’d seen in the episode, using our set of stackable Mathlink Cubes. We started by linking 10 cubes together and repeated this to make 10 sets of 10.

Initially Daisy carefully counted 10 cubes to make a tower of 10 cubes. The practical process of linking the cubes helped Daisy to see that each time we linked 10 cubes together we created the same size tower of cubes. So, after making a few towers, we would already know that it had 10 cubes, without counting them individually. This is an important mathematical skill for Daisy to develop; it enables her to move on from counting each block individually (by rote).

The ‘One Hundred’ episode had shown 10 lots of 10 cubes, linked together to make a 100 square and together we linked Daisy’s 10 sets together creating her 100 square. 

We had a single red Mathlink Cube that we stood beside the 100 square (replicating a similar scene in the Numberblocks episode) and we could see that ‘100’ was very big and ‘one’ was small by comparison.

A young girl carefully positions the final cubes in a multicoloured square of Mathlink Cubes, to construct a 10 by 10 square made of 100 individual cubes. A single additional cube is left to one side, for scale.
Daisy was determined to explore her curiosity and build a square made of 100 cubes – with a single extra cube to one side, for scale!

It was Daisy’s idea then for us to take the 10 sets of ten and stack them on top of each other to make a very, very tall tower of 100 blocks – this we succeeded in doing, but it was a precarious structure and didn’t survive long enough for us to produce photographic evidence!

Granny Smith says

  • If you don’t have access to a set of Mathlink Cubes, you can enjoy similar activities, creating matching towers of ten using children’s building bricks like Duplo or Lego; you will need to prepare the sets of bricks that you use, so that the bricks are of uniform size and shape.

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