The Counter Machine
On the screen
Ideas
Level 0:
Count out your favourite number.
How many times do you have to click to make 3? How many times do you have to click to make 4?
What’s the biggest number you can make? What’s the smallest number you can make?
Guess (predict) what the next number will be when you add (or take away) a counter.
Give Numberjack 4 four counters, all the same colour, or different colours.
Get six yellow counters for Numberjack 6, seven red counters for Numberjack 7.
Count out 5 red counters and arrange them like the spots on a dice. Now arrange them in a different way - are there still 5
counters there? What if you do it with yellow counters? With other numbers?
Higher levels:
How many ways can you make 5 using two different colours. Look at the coloured numbers below the total to see how it
represents the split. Try the same with other numbers to explore the addition pairs (bonds) for the numbers.
Choose a larger number like 12 to make. Can you make that number more quickly by changing the Numberjack?
Try counting in twos. What numbers do you get? What numbers don’t you get?
What happens if you start with one counter, then switch to adding two at a time? What numbers do you get now? What
numbers don’t you get?
What numbers do you get if you add five every time?
Choose a number and put that number of counters on screen. Use the 2 magnet to put them into groups of two. Guess
how many groups there will be. Will there be any counters left over? Try the same with the 5 magnet.
Fire numbers out in twos or fives, then take them away with the magnets in twos or fives. Do you notice any patterns in
the numbers?
Try to make numbers using three different coloured counters. What’s the smallest number you can make with three
different colours? Do the same as above with four different colours.
Look at the numbers that show how many counters there are of different colours. What numbers can you make when all
the coloured numbers are all the same?
The Counter Machine is an open-ended play thing to allow children to have fun with and experience
countable objects and numbers. Coloured counters are fired on to the screen, where they can be
counted, re-arranged, added to, taken away, and grouped.
Children see, hear and interact with counters and the matching numbers that show and say how many
counters there are.
It is a very powerful tool for many aspects of maths. Through play and experimentation, children can
develop their experience of and feel for numbers, see the actions and results of addition and
subtraction, explore the idea of repeated grouping (multiples and multiplication) and repeated
subtraction (division), all without the need for formal written arithmetic.
Level 0
The Numberjack shows that just one counter will
be fired out each time a button is clicked.
Click on the coloured buttons to fire counters into
the screen area.
The blue number shows the total number of
counters on screen.
The dark blue loudspeaker turns the sound on
and off.
The pale blue loudspeaker in a frame repeats the
count.
The red swirly
arrow clears
the screen.
Drag the counters
to the bin to
remove them.
The boxes show the
number of counters
of each colour.
Higher Levels
Click on the Numberjack to change the number of
counters fired out (levels1-4)
Levels 1-3 have a maximum of 100 counters and
level 4 has a maximum of 1000 so that a really
large quantity can be seen.
Four colours are available in levels 3 and 4.
Pick up a magnet and click on the counters to
arrange or move them in groups (levels 2-4).