Numbers

2014-02-06

Here is a set of educational paper toys: Remember the papercraft alphabet? Ever since I published it, there have been requests to complement it with a set of numbers. I finally got around to designing the numbers.

numbers01

These are not plain and simple numbers, either, but they come with a trick: Each number has a depth proportional to it’s numeric value. So two is twice as deep as one, three is 1.5 times as deep as two, and so on.

numbers02

numbers03

numbers04

That means that it’s very easy to do math with these numbers, in particular subtractions and additions. It’s so easy, in fact, that my 3 year old son (who knows what the numbers look like, but can’t actually add or subtract) spontaneously started doing math with them. This is how it works:

adding

Here is a video of my son adding 1 plus 3, and then more (in German, but I have added captions):

Here is the rest of the gang:

numbers05

numbers06

numbers07  

numbers08 

numbers09

numbers10 

You will notice that each number has it’s own, distinct color. The colors follow a gradient, so that similar numbers have similar colors. Each number has the corresponding word printed on the front. This also helps to decide about the orientation of 6 and 9.

I also made a ten:

numbers11

The ten is very useful for results greater than 9, as you can represent, say, 15, by putting 10 and 5 next to each other. And it has stripes corresponding to the individual numbers, which again helps to bring them into the correct sequence.

The numbers have a ‘blocky’ look. This is for two reasons: First, perfectly rounded numbers would not stand on their own. And second, they are much, much more difficult to build. Believe me, I’ve tried. In fact, I had a complete set of non-blocky numbers which was so finnicky to assemble that it just wasn’t worth it.

As for the holes in 6, 8, and 9, you can actually leave them in there, as it’s somewhat difficult to cut them out, but if you want to remove them, use a sharp Xacto knife and be careful.

If you make these from >150 gsm paper (53 – 82 lb bond/ledger), they will be quite sturdy.

I have made eight sets of templates: Ones with and without the names of the numbers on the front, colored and outlined, and with proportional depth and fixed depth:

The ones with fixed lengths are more for display purposes or to complement the alphabet (where each letter has the same length).

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. For more details on what you can and cannot do with my work, see here.

Comments

  1. EstherCW, Reply

    The kids are making the 8 and the 0 for their grandfather’s birthday. Thanks, this is marvelous.

  2. Ican, Reply

    Hi, thank you so much for the project. i used it as a gift for my fiance for our anniversary, and she’s loved it:D
    Terima kasih from Indonesia 🙂

  3. pionikko, Reply

    Again a wonderful project ! Thank you very much for sharing this, I will use these for my grandson when he is ready to learn numbers. I have already used the alphabeth as gift cards because they are so beautiful. Everyone likes it. Greetings from Antwerp, Belgium

    1. admin, Reply

      Thanks for the feedback – nice to hear from Belgium, which I liked a lot the few times I had a chance to visit there!

  4. Jaime Lee, Reply

    I found your website thru Pinterest randomly. I was saving your pdf file of Alphabets to make for my 4yo son. I found your Number blocks while looking at your artwork. You are a genius!! It is amazing and so thoughtful. I am so glad that I found your website.

    Greetings from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 🙂

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