Good intuition about numbers and their relationships. It develops gradually as a result of exploring numbers, visualizing them in a variety of contexts, and relating them in ways that are not limited by traditional algorithms.
- Hilde Howden
Number Sense is probably the most important part of Early Childhood Mathematics. However, even children who know their numbers and can count can have poor number sense.
Here are the hallmarks of number sense:
- Sense of number - understanding that "three" means a collection of 3 objects/items regardless of size.
- Subitise- being able to recognize quantities of objects without counting.
- One-to-One correspondence -the last word in counting sequence names the quantity for that set
- Matching words and numerals to a collection
- Being able to name numbers in terms of their parts (part-part-whole)
Children who do not have a good sense of number will have difficulty using strategies to do more difficult computation quickly. If they do not understand what 5 is and that 5 can be broken down to 3+2, 4+1, etc they will not be able to addition or subtraction quickly in their head.
Good sense of number is the opposite of memorizing math facts. So put away those flash cards! Instead use productive math talk and math games! Here are some of my favorites!
Productive Math Talk about Math ThinkingKindergarten students aren't used to talking about Math. If you are lucky, their parents ask them to count things or write their numbers. They are not asked to explain their thinking. So that is my first strategy to improving their sense of number. When you ask them to count or identify a number, ask "How do you know it is 5?" At first you will get the predictable "I counted" or "I knew it in my brain". Totally normal. But as students start really thinking about composing and decomposing numbers they will start to connect more strategies to their thinking like, "I knew that it was 6 because 5 and 1 more is 6". As they hear you model YOUR Math Thinking more and more students start to make those connections, you will be amazed to hear the math thinking among your students!
One way I love to engage their math thinking is with Quick Pictures. Quick pictures is where I show my students a collection of dots, either randomly grouped or within a ten frame. I quickly flash the pictures, only 3 seconds, and then hide it away. I then ask the students to identify the number and have them explain their thinking. This really allows them to hear the strategies of others. Of course, I start small with 0-5 on a ten frame and then add the larger numbers (I go 0-20). I want them to really understand what the 10 frame is about and the strategies that make computation easier. Check out my 10 frame Quick Picture Flash Cards HERE.
I also use cards with "random" grouping of dots. They aren't really random, but are placed in a way to encourage strategic counting (4 and 1, 3 and 4, 4 and 5) and produce great math thinking. Check out my Quick Pictures Dot Cards HERE.
Math GamesI LOVE math games. They are the perfect way to have students practice their number sense in an engaging way. They make great Math Station activities too!
Let's Build ItIn the 3 different Let's Build It games (Roll a Staircase, Roll a Tower, and Build a City) children roll a dice and build different sizes of towers.
|Roll a Staircase|
|Roll a Tower|
Check out the FREE Let's Build It game HERE!
Same Number (or Spin and Find)I love this game! These cards can be used for so many different games, and help the students improve their number sense and ability to subatise by identifying the different combinations of numbers. Pairs of students share one set of cards. One student chooses a card and the other finds a card that shows the same number.
Check out the FREE Same Number game HERE! Here is the Spin and Find Spinner!
Fifty ChartThis game is super easy to put together - just a board a dice and cubes, beans, etc. Students take turns rolling the dice and covering up (or coloring) that many numbers. The first to cover all 50 wins!
The Fifty Chart game can be found HERE!
Guess My NumberThis is a great way to introduce 10 frames. Students work in pairs. One student closes his/her eyes while the other rolls the dice and puts that many counters on the ten frame (or a 20 frame for your higher kids! Or even a 5 frame for your struggling students!) and says, "Guess my number!". The other student counts and says the number. Easy!
|Guess My Number|
The Ten Frames and Number Cards (from Same Number - above) can be found HERE! The Double Ten Frame can be found HERE.
Domino Matching Tic-Tac-ToeStudents work in pairs. They each have a set of colored cards. They take turns placing a domino dot card into the board. If they get 3 in a row, they win!
|Domino Matching Tic-Tac-Toe|
The Domino Matching Tic-Tac-Toe game can be found HERE!
Thanksgiving Roll and ColorThis is the game we use to introduce game play in our math stations. Students can work individually or in pairs. They roll the dice and color that numeral. Easy!
|Roll and Color Thanksgiving Turkey|
The Thanksgiving Roll and Color can be found HERE at A Cupcake for the Teacher!
Gingerbread Man Roll and Color
|Roll and Color Gingerbread Man|
This game is the same as above, except I have them work in pairs and use different colors. The student with the most colored spaces, wins!
The Gingerbread Man Roll and Color can be found HERE at Kinzie's Kreations!
Race to the Top
|Race to the Top|
Race to the Top can be found HERE!
Race to Trace
|Race to Trace|
Race to Trace is a great partner game. Students take turns rolling a die and tracing that number. When all numbers have been traced, count how many you have in your color and see who wins!
Race to Trace can be found HERE at Kids Count 1234!
I cannot stress enough how important review and practice is for number sense. They need to be practicing identifying numerals and counting every single day. The most fun and engaging way to practice is games.
What are your favorite Number Sense games? I would love some links to yours!