Mathematics · Threes to Sixes

Numberblocks Club

Numberblocks is a British TV show aimed at 3-6 year olds. Through short stories and songs, the show provides its viewers with a fun and concrete way of thinking about numbers. For example, after watching the show, a 3yo friend shared with me excitedly, “Three has THREE blocks! Get it?” He was also able to tell me that 1+2+3+4+5=15 and (in different words) that one triangle number plus the next bigger triangle number is a square. Because of the show, my kids think of each number up to 15 as a beloved character, as cool and detailed as Moana or Batman. And yes, they are watching the show as I write this!

This past January, I hosted a virtual Numberblocks club. It was fun, so I thought I’d share what we did here. The basic structure was:

  • Four 30 minute meetings
  • Every child had MathLink Cubes to play with during the meetings. These are the perfect physical companion to the show and even the non-branded ones look just like numberblocks. When I refer to a physical “numberblock” below, I mean, MathLink cubes that we’re pretending are numberblocks.
  • Each meeting we watched 2-3 episodes on a theme interspersed with related math-link cube activities. Note: I was able to stream Netflix through Zoom, but it took a bit of testing and settings changes beforehand.
  • After the meetings, kids were given coloring sheets related to the watched episodes. This was especially nice for kids who missed a meeting because they could still watch the episodes and do the coloring sheets.

All the coloring sheets can be found here. Want a similar style coloring sheet for another episode? Email me!

Here are the week-by-week details as best as I can remember them:

Pre-Week 1: To get excited, before the first meeting we all watched the Christmas Special and did the related coloring sheet.

Week 1: Meet the Numbers!

  • Welcome: Share your name and build your age as a numberblock
  • Watch: S2e19 Peekaboo
  • Peekaboo Activity: Take turns hiding one number block behind another number block, and having the others guess the hidden number
  • Watch: S2e27 PatternPalace
  • Pattern Activity: Take turns making a pattern of different colored blocks and having the others guess what block would come next

Want another favorite to get you started? Watch S2e30 The Wrong Way

Week 2: Rectangliness!

  • Welcome: Repeat Peekaboo Activity
  • Watch: s3e3 The Way of the Rectangle
  • Array Activity: Pick a number 1-12, and ask what rectangles it can make
  • Watch: s3e4 Ride the Rays
  • Ray Activity: Pick a number 1-5, and ask the kids to make a numberblock that can ride a ray that is that many blocks wide

Need more on Rectangliness?!? Watch s6e11 How Rectangly and s6e12 Rectangle Racers.

Week 3: Twos!

  • Welcome: What do you think would be in a place called Twoland?
  • Watch: s6e8 Twoland
  • Doubling Activity: Everyone makes two of a number then squishes them together and counts up the blocks, and shares what their number is doubled
  • Watch: s6e21 Snow Day Doubles
  • Un-Doubling Activity: Everyone secretly builds two of the same number together and squishes them together. Take turns guessing each person’s original number
  • Watch: s6e29 What If

Want another fabulous episode about doubling? Check-out Double Back, a time travelling special! Or want to read an excellent book on doubling? Check-out One Grain of Rice – it’s about the folktale referenced in the “What If” episode and lists many large powers of two in the back!

Week 4: Clubs!

  • Welcome: Build and share your favorite numberblock and any facts you know about it
  • Watch: s3e8 Fifteen
  • Steps Activity: Everyone builds a step shape and shares how many blocks they used
  • Watch: s3e10 Step Squads
  • Club Brainstorm: Step Squads are a club, can you think of any other number clubs?
  • Watch: s6e17 Club Picnic

Obsessed with clubs like me? Check-out this page of fan-made clubs!

Note: the episodes given are the American season and episode numbers, which is confusingly different from the UK ones.

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