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3 Fun and Easy Ways to Teach Number Sense

In preschool, the core of mathematics instruction is teaching numbers and counting. This is done by teaching students to identify numbers 1-10 and counting to 10. These skills are taught intentionally and on a daily basis. This is where their understanding of number sense begins to take place. As students move into kindergarten, the skills will build on each other and lead to recognizing and counting higher numbers. There are tons of ways to teach number sense in your classroom. I'm going to talk about my favorite three fun and easy ways to teach number sense in pre-k and kindergarten. 

Teaching number is an important part of math in preschool and kindergarten.  These tips and ideas for teaching number sense will help you and your students.

What is Number Sense?

To put it simply, number sense is your sense of what numbers mean. Which number is larger or smaller? What value does the number hold? Comparing numbers to each other and figuring out what they mean in the real world are also a part of number sense.

Number sense is just as important in math as phonemic awareness is in reading. When students are struggling in math class, it is often because they don't have a solid understanding of number sense. This foundational concept can hold them back from developing future math skills. Before our students can accurately perform number calculations, they need to have a firm understanding of number sense. 

Number sense includes all of the following:
  • Number identification
  • Counting
  • Adding
  • Subtracting
  • Mental Math
  • And so much more!

Teaching Number Sense to Pre-K and Kindergarten Students

Just like everything else, teaching number sense requires some planning on your part. It needs to be a focused part of your daily routine. This will set your students up for success in their future math endeavors. 

I like to focus on a number of the week. Morning meeting time is the perfect place to introduce the number and practice it daily. I have a pocket chart on my board with everything I need to teach the number of the week. We work on number recognition and counting. We talk about what comes before the number of the week and what comes after it. I post all of these numbers on the board as a visual representation. We also use a number line to help with our counting skills. 

Morning meeting is a great starting point and a quick review for our number of the week. However, we still need to dive deeper into the numbers to fully understand them. Here are some skills I focus on to do just that. 

3 Fun and Easy Ways to Teach Number Sense

1.  Number Recognition

Number recognition is the absolute first step in teaching number sense to students. There are so many creative ways to do this at home and in the classroom. Teaching students to be aware of numbers in their environment is a great way to do this. Along with recognizing the number, your kiddos need to learn to write it. A simple way to this is to be tracing the number and writing it a few times daily. 

Now that we can recognize and write a number, it's time to represent it. Do this with pictures! Kids love activities with pictures that they can color and decorate to have a little fun. 

2.  Counting On 

Counting on is an important math skill that students need to develop early on as part of mastering number sense. Otherwise, they'd have to start counting from zero every time. Who has time for that? Teaching students to start with the biggest number and count on from there is usually a simple task. Counters and number lines are great tools to use for teaching this skill. 

3.  Ten Frames

Ten frames are a great tool for students to begin to understand numbers in relationship to each other and the beginnings of place value. They are just rectangular frames divided into 10 individual boxes. Numbers up to 10 can be shown in the ten frame using counters or dabbers of some sort. Ten frames help students to really "see" a number. They help with addition and subtraction as well. They are also a great tool to provide more hands-on learning to your students. 

These three fun and easy ways to teach number sense are just a few of my favorites. Of course, there are a ton of different ideas and methods to choose from. The key is consistency and practice, practice, practice! 

Number of the Week

When I was developing my lessons to teach number sense in my classroom, I knew I needed something that would be quick and easy, yet effective and rigorous at the same time. That's when I created these Number of the Week worksheets that meet all of my needs. Not only do they reinforce what we learn during our morning meeting time, but they give students a variety of ways to work with numbers too! 

Each resource gives students lots of practice working with numbers, representation, and relationships. Your students will work on number sense skills like these:
  • Number line completion (K.CC.1)
  • Counting forward from the number (K.CC.2)
  • Writing numbers (K.CC.3)
  • Representing numbers through pictures (K.CC.B.4)
  • Comparing numbers (K.CC.6)
  • Representing numbers on a ten frame (1.NBT.B.2)
You and your students will love the mini posters and coloring pages that are included to make learning fun! I know you'll love this resource as much as I do. So, I put together this Number of the Week Bundle so you'll be all set with numbers 1-30. 

You can find more Number of the Week resources for Pre-K, Kindergarten and First Grade in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. 

I can't wait for you to get started on your teaching number sense journey. I hope you enjoy these three fun and easy ways to teach number sense in your classroom. 

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