How it works

It is all about our habits. If you can work mindfully and consistently with our system you can transform the way you think about numbers which will in turn transform your family's ability to work with abstract concepts, patterns and problem solving techniques. This challenge gives you the opportunity to glimpse these benefits.

Sign up

Sign up to the waiting list for the challenge. As soon as a 5 day challenge is scheduled, you will be offered a place. The first 100 people to sign up will get a free place on the challenge. (The next challenge is scheduled for the week beginning 18th January 2021)

Set up

Once you've started your journey, the next step is to start to learn the system. This is usually done with a pack of cards but you can see how it works by using online cards.

Stand up

Each day, you will receive a short message that you will need to respond to. By this stage you should have done the tasks that were set the day before or you can use it as a reminder to do them. We call this the daily Stand Up.

The 5 day challenge is an introduction to a new way of looking at numbers and how to develop arithmetic. If it works for you and you think that it could work for the children you support, then you will be invited to sign up for the Pioneers' Club.

The Challenge

Build the habit; it will take care of the rest.

We start this with a challenge because it takes practice to see the connections and then experience numbers in this way. To get started, sign up below. We'll send you information about the programme, how Prime Colours can support you and a link to sign up to the challenge

A 5-day investment in your mind

Habits are built by starting small and consistently following a practice. You will be building the habit of thinking about numbers as patterns. This is a mindful practice and through it, you and your family will start to operate on the other side of numbers. Numbers as a way to communicate are useful to society but being able to see the system of numbers as patterns are the kind of life skill through which individuals brought on the enlightenment and scientific revolution. The main way this mindful practice works is to bring more meaning to numbers and the patterns behind them. It starts by changing what you notice when you see numbers. We then look at new ways to see calculation so that it is more like play than work. This leads to looking at how different ways of arranging information can highlight different patterns in the number system. We move on from there to show you how you can help children to start the practice and build an alternative but complementary way of seeing numbers.

This 5-day challenge can help you glimpse this way of seeing numbers and make the road to arithmetical fluency an envigorating experience. The playful practice that you learn will help your students or children deepen their thinking and problem solving approaches. Once they can practise anywhere, think about numbers in terms of patterns and in a playful way, they have the tools to really get a handle on numbers, which will lead to experience solving problems that will support wider life projects and choices. They will start to experience maths as the playground for enriching the problem solvng side of life.

The Story of Numbers

How you see, play, work with and feel about numbers makes all the difference

Why are numbers important?

On the surface, it seems like we all understand the importance of numbers. We know maths classes and qualifications are important. We use numbers for shopping and see numbers invading our lives at every level. We understand that money makes the world go round and that we need to be able to work with numbers to use money.

And these are all true and all reasons to have a functional grasp on numbers. These are uses of numbers as a communication tool and it is an important part of communication.

There is a hidden opportunity with numbers though. They offer a way to work with patterns that we just don't get from anywhere else. Patterns are the fundamental idea behind all knowledge. They are about connections, asking questions, alternative representations (diagrams, lists etc.), logic and unexpected similarities and differences. These are ways of thinking that transform the possibilities in your life much more than a qualification will do.

In short, the benefit is not in becoming good at working with numbers but using the opportunity to practice these ways of thinking. Just as reading gives us access to a vocabulary that we would never get in functional conversation, maths challenges us to develop ways of thinking that cannot be developed easily by other means.

One way that this challenge will change how you think about numbers, is by changing the focus from addition and subtraction to multiplication and division. This does not mean learning techniques for multiplication but rather seeing numbers in a way that supports these concepts. This will make more sense after the challenge so more on that then.

The cards and the system

The cards are your introduction to the system and the first puzzle.

On one side, you'll see the numbers you know and love. Hindu-Arabic digits that are used in a place value system to represent the numbers it is possible to represent.

Prime Colours is an entirely different system, not meant to replace this system but to allow you to see behind it to some of the other important patterns. It also gives you the opportunity to learn numbers again and so ask more questions about how they work.

The Daily Stand Up

This is the core of the practice. The idea of this activity is to hold yourselves and your group accountable to completing a daily activity and mindful practice using the cards.

Each day, children will complete a set of tasks that get them thinking about their thinking to do with numbers.

The tasks will include:
  • analysing 5 - 15 cards (5 minutes)
  • retrieval practice with some of the cards (3 minutes)
  • sorting cards (2 minutes)
The term comes from the way software developers sometimes keep themselves accountable for the work they have promised to do. If there are any others in your group who you are helping to stick to this challenge, they will be notified that you have completed your Stand Up for the day. The Stand Up will be:
  • how you got on with the cards
  • intentions for the next stand up

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of doing this programme?

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You will have a language and a practice that your family can engage in that will support the development of enhanced ways of thinking.

What do we do once we've completed the challenge?

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If you've found it valuable, sign up for the Prime Colours Programme. It costs

How will we see the results?

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The 5-day challenge is a glimpse of the system. You will see that there is a different more mindful way of working with numbers and that will hopefully convince you to continue the practice.

The main results of the practice are about building a habit. It's a habit to do with regular thinking about how numbers work including asking questions and making new observations that you share with others. It's our habits, those that we have as individuals, as families and communities, that will bring other types of results. Initially, you will see a change in the way you think. Teachers and tutors are likely to notice this (many have commented on this after children have started using the cards). This quite naturally and obviously leads on to changes in ability to use numbers and flexibility with calculation.

When will we see these changes?

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Prime Colours is a long term practice (though it takes only a few minutes work each day). The idea is that it builds an alternative structure for numbers in your mind over time. You are most likely to see the benefits when children start to encounter topics such as fractions and ratio. The experience of having used Prime Colours regularly will allow them to see behind the techniques they learn to the real patterns in numbers.

The analogy we use is that of bamboo. Bamboo is planted and watered everyday. It is watered for years and nothing is seen to happen. Then one day it starts to grow and shoots up 30 metres in the space of a few months.

It is similar with Prime Colours. The practice builds the roots and so children can grow once the system is ready for the growth. This is in contrast to learning to parrot back facts that have little meaning for a child (other than the pride of getting answers right).

What age group is it aimed at?

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A range of people from trainee teachers to teenagers studying for GCSE Maths to 6 year olds starting to learn multiplication have found a lot of benefit in practising with Prime Colours. This is because Prime Colours is just about developing practices that are important to really learning about numbers and their patterns and connections. It's a way of seeing that can help at A level as well as in year 2 because it means that you ask a deeper level of question about numbers. It's not about gaining specific knowledge based on a level in the curriculum so it can work for people at any age.

We are currently recommending this programme for families who have primary aged children. We think that this will support children at a crucial point that can make a lot of difference to their future maths education.


We are opening up this challenge to a maximum of 100 pioneers. You will be the first to attempt it and see the benefits of this visual and manipulatable form of number work. We hope that you will see how powerful a system this is and will be willing to share the benefits with others that you think it would work for. For you, we are offering a 55% discount and the opportunity to invite your friends to become pioneers.

If you can see this message then the pioneer programme is still available. To receive your discount, simply type the code "I_AM_A_PIONEER" in the voucher box. The discount will be applied and your status as a pioneer will be set.

This is for you if...

You see maths as an important life skill and not just for exams. You would like your children to experience the whole journey in as positive a way possible. You understand that it will take time to build the connections that makes it possible to work with patterns in maths. You probably believe more in nurturing your children's curiosity than seeing how they compare to their peers.

If this is the case, this programme is designed for you.