The Number Box

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How It Works

What is it?

The Number Box is a multi sensory teaching programme and maths resource. It was designed for those children who struggle with maths for one of several reasons.

  • Dyslexic children find sequential skills, organisation and spatial operations in maths more challenging, and require resources and patient teaching.
  • Children who have receptive and expressive language difficulties may take longer to understand and use the complex maths vocabulary.
  • Dyscalculic children have great difficulty understanding the concept of number at all and may stay working with the resources and programme of The Number Box through the Infant school and on into Junior school.

Price £115 (+VAT & Postage)

  • Five minute number box

    Number Box

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Box Contents

The contents are:

  • Fully illustrated, 26 page Instruction Guide
  • 16 page Additional Activities Booklet
  • Box containing magnetic numbers 0-10
  • Box containing 50 counting cubes
  • Box containing 50 coins
  • Box containing 8 Solid Geometrical Shapes
  • Clock Face
  • ‘Magic’ Tape Measure and Instructions
  • Number Base Board
  • Geometrical Shapes Base Board
  • Hundred Squares Board
  • Set Number Cards 0-10
  • Set Number Cards 0-20
  • Set Symbols Cards × – + = ÷.
  • Set Geometrical Shapes Cards
  • Numbers Formation Strip
  • Tables Lines 1-10
  • Counting Sleeve
  • Dice
  • Penny Board for tens and ones
  • Record of Achievement Covers
  • Record of Work Sheets
  • Treasury Tags
  • Wipe-clean Whiteboard & Drywipe Pen

A Wave 2 and 3 Maths Resource

Using multi-sensory teaching methods, The Number Box comes complete with materials, record of achievement recording booklets, and illustrated instruction guide.

Teaching assistants or parents use with individual children to establish basic concepts of numeracy, or to support groups of children who are not yet working with abstract concepts.


It works in small steps from early recognition of numbers through to using tens and units, and includes resources for teaching concepts of time, measurement, money and shape.

Based on principles laid out in The National Numeracy Strategy it can be used from Foundation Stage.

How It Works

To understand number concepts, it is vital that children have no gaps in their understanding. The aim of The Box is to allow children to access the daily maths lesson in class with continued support of practical resources, whilst working through their individual programme on The Box in 1:1 time, to ensure that they have a complete understanding of all the stages.

Children need to be encouraged to become independent learners, and should have an opportunity every session to use the maths vocabulary to express how much they understand and what they have learned.

Children must be enabled to say what they do not understand, and ask for it to be explained or practised again.

It is important that children manage the materials themselves – opening up, selecting materials, and packing the resources away after each session. This avoids ‘learned helplessness’.

The Progression of skills detailed on The Record of Achievement booklets allows children to work in very small steps through a complete programme. This begins with the recognition of numbers through to knowledge of number concepts up to tens and ones. It also includes small steps for teaching and consolidating concepts of time, measurement, money and shape. It has been based on the principles laid out in The National Numeracy Strategy up to the end of Key Stage 1.

The Number Box is paper free, using instead a white board and pen, and wipeable work boards. There is no need for teacher planning, as the system is self perpetuating following the targets set out on the Record of Work books. Recording is simple – individual recording booklets are included for daily comments on successes and difficulties, and these provide a comprehensive record of progress over time.

The Number Box contains sufficient resources to work with 1 or 2 children, or for support and demonstration to a small group. Additional resources can easily be purchased to allow it to be used with small groups.

The Instruction Manual gives easy to follow, fully illustrated, steps enabling TAs or parents to work with a child. Instructions for number concepts need to be followed in order, while the other maths topics can be used to correspond to the current class maths topic. Each page of the Instruction Manual gives vocabulary for the TA to use with the child, and for the child to use himself as his confidence grows.

Main Benefits

The main benefits of the Number Box are:

  • Good self esteem is maintained as children are supported from very early stages – before they have time to fail.
  • Children have an opportunity each session to share knowledge and progress.
  • Children manage the resources, encouraging them to become independent.
  • No need for lesson plans as the system is a continuous process through the skills in all areas.
  • Once a target has been met, the child automatically moves on to the next target.
  • No photocopiable worksheets – it is a paper free resource!
  • No time spent in photocopying.
  • No set up time required – just open The Number Box and go.
  • Targets are on every recording booklet.
  • It provides a full record of a child’s progress over time showing areas of strength and weakness.
  • Children who are dyscalculic, or who need longer to attain the ability to work with abstract concepts, receive continued support on a regular basis.
  • The programme allows for progress at different rates in different areas of maths.
  • Children who may later be diagnosed as dyslexic or dyscalculic will have had multi-sensory teaching for their difficulties from starting school.
  • Any items lost or damaged will be replaced to ensure that The Box remains intact and useable.

Use by Teaching Assistants

The Number Box provides a complete package for Teaching Assistants to use in two ways:

  • with individuals for 1:1 teaching on a regular basis in order to establish the basic concepts of number. It uses multi-sensory methods throughout, and provides a progression of skills and a full record of work, showing successes and areas of difficulty. It can be used from Reception age onwards, and is equally useful as a second start programme for Junior age children who have poor understanding of number and place value.
  • for in-class support of small groups in the daily maths lessons. It provides readily accessible tangible resources for children who are unable to work with abstract concepts. It eliminates the need to gather resources together for each lesson.

Key Points about the Number Box

The Box can be used in three ways

  1. as individual 1:1 Wave Three support for children who need on-going extra teaching for basic maths skills
  2. for supporting small groups of children who are not yet able to work with abstract concepts during the daily maths lesson
  3. as a second start programme for junior age / second language children

Individual children

  • Need 1:1 time – shared time, even with two children, means that one child is always less able and is still seeing themselves as less able.
  • Regular / daily practice of known skills allows time for skills and knowledge to be transferred to long term memory.
  • Introduction of new skills:
  • New skills are only gradually added to the known, and introduced in very small steps.
  • All teaching and reinforcement is multi-sensory: hear, see, say and write.
  • Children are encouraged to talk about their understanding, difficulties, and use of key vocabulary. Key vocabulary is included on every page to ensure that children hear support staff using the vocabulary, and have an opportunity to use the vocabulary back

Children with English as an Additional Language (EAL)

  • Vocabulary and language associated with number is vital for understanding instructions, problem solving, explanations – these children need individual time to acquire and use maths language
  • Teaching continues until children have learned basic maths skills for number, time, money, measuring and shape.  There is no fixed or expected length of time for a child to remain on The Box


  • Specific Learning Difficulties can affect a child’s ability to acquire maths skills, and appropriate multi-sensory teaching needs to be in place before children fail at maths, or become disenchanted with maths
  • For some children, the difficulties are developmental and are overcome given time. Those children who need on-going help and continued access to concrete materials will benefit from having already had quality multi-sensory teaching and a structured programme on a regular basis.

Wave Three Provision

  • It is a highly personalised intervention:
  • Individual recording booklets follow a route through the progression of skills which is vital for maths.
  • Number Box time is intended to be part of classroom provision in Reception and Year 1, and can be carried out in either brief, planned sessions, or in ‘spare’ 5 minutes in the classroom.
  • Children do not miss anything which may happen in the classroom as the sessions are short and are designed to be class based.
  • The Box can be used beyond Year 1, and has been successfully used up to Year 6 and early secondary using timetabled TA support until children are able to work with abstract concepts.
  • Early skills are practised in every session:
  • Confident knowledge of these skills needs time and continued practice to become automatic.
  • Children manage all the materials:
  • Taking ownership of the materials encourages ownership of learning and responsibility for the sharing back of understanding.
  • Learned helplessness is ‘designed out‘ of the teaching.

Factors which make learning possible

  • Good self esteem
  • Thorough understanding of basic skills
  • Taking advantage of a child’s preferred learning style
  • Motivation
  • Personal organisation
  • Early learning of referencing skills
  • Time to consolidate known skills

Factors which inhibit learning

  • Poor self esteem
  • Fear of failure
  • Shaky understanding due to absences, specific learning difficulties, slower learning abilities
  • Learned helplessness
  • Fight or flight responses to test situations
  • Death by worksheet syndrome!

Working with the Box

  • Sessions must be positive and supportive, seen as enabling learning.
  • The aim is for a child to be able to give an automatic response to the skills covered in The Box
  • If a child does not have an instant response they must be reminded instantly – they would respond if they could!
  • Each child is responsible for managing the materials in The Box – getting out and putting away – so that every child comes to it as a complete unit.
  • Never assume that a child will remember something today that they seemed to know yesterday – over-learn, practise and share knowledge until it really is known.
  • Daily re-visiting of known skills gives the child the opportunity to speed up responses and to be aware of what it feels like to really know something confidently.

Record Keeping

  • Notes should be kept of every session –progress needs to be shared with the child – ‘Now you know….’.
  • Keep notes very brief – they can be written while the child is organising the next set of materials.
  • Dated notes mean that progress over time is easy to access for report writing, review meetings, external professional visits.
  • Consistent note writing enables any other TA or teacher to pick up the booklets and work instantly with the child.

What People Say

@fiveminutebox my son has gone from struggling with maths to being described as a competent mathematician thanks to your resource

E.H. via Twitter

You have really captured our imagination and we are all filled with great enthusiasm for the Five Minute Box…being used with great effect!

Judith Doyle

St Peter’s C. Of E. (Aided) Primary School, Farnham

…how delighted we are with our Five Minute Box…it has been a great success…well worth the money. The children themselves love the Box too. It looks professional and business-like.

Jane Elms

SENCO, Christ Church C Of E Jmi And Nursery School, Barnet

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