Maths tool for visual spatial learners


As you might remember from one of my earlier posts, Little Miss Green is a visual spatial learner.

Unfortunately the education system is not really cut out for such learners!

Maths is a case in point. She is struggling with the idea of having to show her work; she cannot break it down into small chunks. She just knows the answer but can’t ‘prove’ it. This is a challenge in the state education system as often you get one mark for the correct answer and another for the correct working out. This has distressing consequences in that LMG has been labelled as ‘poor’ at maths since year 1 and has struggled to understand it ever since. She now hates it, shuts down, gets stressed and has lost all interest in learning about it.

It also means that a bunch of numbers written on a page have little meaning. It’s like a foreign language to the visual spatial. They need to touch, feel, sense, move and create. In other words, they need multi sensory learning.

A highly Visual-Spatial learner does not have a learning disability, but is at a disadvantage in the typical classroom where teaching is done as a step-by-step process. The visual spatial learner needs to view the ‘big picture’ and cannot figure out a small, step by step procedure. They buckle under timed testing because they have to ‘translate’ things in their heads before they can get them down on paper.

the visual spatial learner is a RIGHT BRAINED learner trying to conform in a left brained education system.

This week Little Miss Green was struggling with ‘big’ numbers. Anything over 999 and she didn’t know what went where so we raided the recycling stash to create a place value flip book. I’d seen them available to buy online, but how much more fun to create your own!

Here’s what you need to make your own place value flip book

Piece sturdy cardboard
Coloured A4 paper in 7 different colours. You need to cut each piece into 10 equal sized pieces
Thick pens
Hole punch
Cotton, string or wool

Making a place value flip book

Choose one coloured piece of paper, cut into 10 and write the numbers 0-9 on each piece of paper.
Repeat with the other 7 colours until you have 70 numbers
Punch holes in the top of each piece of paper
Cut 14 pieces of string / yarn approximately 6 inches long each
Line up one pile of coloured numbers with the cardboard and punch two holes through the card, then tie the numbers on with string
Repeat until all 7 place values are in place.
Label the bottom of each column of numbers with the place value names – ones, tens, hundreds, thousands etc
All done! You can now use the flip book to play with numbers!





Flip book showing 7510

Flip book showing 7510


  1. Alicia C. on May 25, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    This is a great idea! I’m also a visual-spatial learner and school did NOT help! I would have loved to have something like this to help me understand rather than just trying to memorize concepts that I had no clue about. Thanks for sharing – I’m working on a teaching degree and will keep this in my idea files for when I get my own classroom!

  2. Mrs Green on May 28, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    @Alicia C.: Thanks Alicia; I’d love to hear more about this because I’m on a steep learning curve. Can you tell me more about things which help you? DD is really struggling with school at the moment and I am sure the methods of teaching are at the root of it all…

  3. nazima on May 31, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    an excellent idea. Well done on being so creative!