Young students need number sense, or in other words, a good understanding of what numbers are and how numbers work, before they can add, subtract or work with numbers in general. Establishing a solid sense of numbers is critical to preventing learning gaps, and therefore, the need for interventions later in learning. We teachers need to provide number sense activities early on in preschool and kindergarten in order to solidify these skills.
The following experiences are critical for helping young learners develop strong number sense:
- seeing numbers in their order
- ordering numbers
- counting orally
- using a variety of manipulatives
- counting on number lines
- using 100 grids
- practicing subitizing (instantly recognize the number of objects without counting with tallies, dice, etc.)
- playing games with counting and moving spaces
We have 6 engaging activities designed to build number sense fluency! And don’t miss grabbing our FREE Number Identification Flashcards and Games Pack in #3!
1. Post and Use a Classroom Number Line Daily
In our opinion, a primary classroom is not complete without a number line on the wall. It’s as important as displaying a word wall or the alphabet!
A classroom number line can be used daily for:
- skip counting
- counting on
- Keep track of the number of the day (see below!)
- adding and subtracting
- finding greater than and less than
- playing games
- finding even/odd numbers
- finding missing numbers
- and so much more!
Our students loved seeing the progression of the school year by watching our panda hop along the number line each day. I moved the panda to mark the day of the year as well as the number of the day for our daily math activities during calendar time each day (see below).
I found that as a consequence of referring to the number line throughout the year, the light bulbs began to flicker above heads and students were beginning to refer to the number line on their own to solve problems!
See it HERE!
2. Use Number of the Day
I LOVED teaching with Number of the Day, and boy did my students learn their number sense through the repeated practice of concepts!
This bundle is perfect for morning work, math centers, and daily math seatwork to review those essential 1st grade math skills.
Our 1st grade team LOVES and swears by these daily Numbers of the day and our 1st graders love them as well because the daily repetition of skills helps them become proficient.
After a year of using our Numbers of the Day, our Math scores improved dramatically from the previous year. The daily repetition of essential skills and the gradual increase in rigor is the secret. Each day students practice and reinforce basic, essential, foundational math skills. Every 20 pages skills gradually increase in difficulty and rigor, building upon skills from previous packets.
Below you can preview the skills practiced every 20 days:
See our Number of the Day Bundle HERE and Grab a FREE sample of days 1-20 down below 👇
3. Use Number Sense Flashcards
These fun and engaging flashcards and games help students become more fluent with number identification, missing number, larger number (advanced quantity discrimination), and next number skills. Use these flashcards to prepare for DIBELS or other math progress monitoring and benchmarking tests or use with RTI and/or intervention groups.
Missing Number Flashcards example:
Just print on cardstock or index paper (print answers on the back for some), cut and you’re ready to go! I organize my flashcards by different colored cardstock for different skills for easy differentiation and storage.
4. Play “I’m Thinking of a Number”
Hang a set of I’m Thinking of a Number task cards by the hall door and help your students listen, use inferencing skills, and sharpen their number sense skills as they line up for recess or lunch!
Set these activities out for centers or math groups as soon as students have the hang of them. Students record their answers on the included answer form and partners check answers on the included answer key!
5. Practice Subitizing Skills
Subitizing is instantly recognizing a number of objects without counting. For example, a student with good subitizing skills knows that this die is the number 2. And likewise, the fingers on the hand show 4 without having to count.
Students demonstrate their understanding of numbers when they play with dice or when they use their fingers to show the answer to a problem, for example.
Here are some great subitizing activities:
Students solve each problem using subitizing skills with tallies, ten frames, dice, dominoes, and base 10 blocks. After solving the math problems, students turn over the puzzle in order to check their work. If the picture pieces create a picture, they did it correctly.
6. Play Math Games Regularly
A great way to improve number sense is to play GAMES that use:
- game pieces to count and move spaces forward and back
- 100s grids as game boards
- number lines to hop on
- cards with numbers to identify or order or greater and less
- skip counting
Grab a die and hop on a number line with game pieces.
Use 2 dice and game pieces to move forward and back.
Store game pieces and dice inside plastic sleeves.