Number Sense MEGA Post

Hey there and thanks so much for stopping in!  Today’s post is all about…..number sense!  Number sense isn’t identifying all of the numbers 0-20 or counting to 100!  Number sense is something far more “deep.”  When a student has a solid number sense they are rich in mathematical practices…they see 16 as ten and six.  When you ask them about 8 they can break it down to five and three or say add two more and you have ten.
Number sense cannot be taught.  Yet, number sense comes through practice with numbers not only hands-on, but talking about numbers and math in general. We are realizing that math is way more than memorizing facts, but truly understanding what those symbols and operations mean.
In a number sense rich classroom you will hear the teacher asking students to answer questions like these;

What do you notice? 
What do you think? Why? 
What might come next? 
What do you predict will happen? 
How did you figure it out? 
Does anyone have a different answer? 
Does anyone have a different way to solve this problem? 
Can you convince us?

How can you improve number sense in your classroom?

Link numbers to their own personal lives.  We have 5 chairs at this table and 6 friends.  Will every child get a chair?  Show the one to one correspondence of one friend per chair.  No, there are more friends than there are chairs.

Ask students to think BEFORE calling for answers. When you ask students to think first you will allow them time to process what is being asked.  Some students require more wait time.  If you immediately call on students those fast processors might know the answer but it eliminates the thought process for the others.

Have the class weigh in. When discussing a problem for example a word problem.  Call on many different students of varying levels.  Have them explain how they think the problem should be solved, their answers, and how they got that answer.  Teach classroom respect for all…I agree with ____.  I respectfully disagree because ____.

Teach perseverance in mathematics.  We have all failed at something at some point in our lives.  However, for kids they see this failure as they will  never be successful.  As adults we if know that if get it wrong today..doesn’t mean we will get it wrong the next time…we have had the experience to persevere and not give up.  We must instill this is our students.  Show them that you make mistakes during math too.  Allow them to help you through your hiccup.  They will see you persevere and know that they can as well.

Teach a love for math and number. I always call my students mathematicians during math.  This makes them feel as though their job at exact moment is to do math.  When we take the time to think of fun and engaging ways to explore concepts during math we are opening the door for math to become more than numbers on a paper…but more of an adventure an answer…like pirate in search of his treasure.

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Honestly…not lying…totally the truth here…I now LOVE math time.  It really feels like we “play” for the whole hour and just have a darn good time!  We talk, we discuss, we reason, we talk shop with our longtime math partners, get up and move as we do math, have a time to just sit and listen to our teacher, and breakaway with our partners for independent practice.  After that we really have fun with our math partners doing math tubs!

Now truthful again…math might be even sweeter that it takes us up right to the end of the day…but that is just the ice cream with this sundae 馃槈

Make “Math” Visible Around Your Classroom

Really.  I think my students know that I have a respect for math time and have high expectations for them during math.  I always feel that it’s important that kids see “math.”  I have all of my math manipulatives easily visible and accessible in my classroom.

This shelf is over by my teacher table!
The numbered tubs are our math tubs for centers and the bottom buckets are math manipulatives!

               The below picture is from my sister’s room!  Adorable and organization to the max!  

These snapshots are of my math cabinet!  I have tried to keep it organized, but we all have that area we are glad there are doors to hide the “stuff!” 馃檪
Make Numbers Visable
Like I mentioned above I think it’s vital that we show our love for math through our classrooms!  Kids should easily be able to find numbers around the room!

Our organic number line!

If you haven’t done it yet…have your students show you anywhere in the classroom they can find numbers!  They usually come up with more places than I would have thought of.

Take Time To Explore

I also am very adamant about giving my kids plenty of time to simply explore math.  This is one of those places that some don’t understand…not talking teachers here 馃槈  A lot of people do not understand that kids ALSO learn through play and conversation.  I am always amazed how the kids will naturally talk “math” or play “math” games completely on their own during exploration.  You can see in the photo below a snap shot where the kiddos had lined up the bears on their own and were talking about who had more.  This is  a perfect example of how kids will naturally take on learning and teaching even through PLAY …yes you read that correctly, p.l.a.y.

Make it Fun!
Wow, I better settle down…play and fun in the same post! 馃槈 Really, I am bad about always trying to make cute and pretty, but you really don’t have to have all that for your students to be successful.  You can easily transform my ideas into something similar and simple!
Fine motor and math!
Put wheels on it and you will have engagement!
Make it theme related on occasion to draw in their attention. 
Just Add Dice

I’m positive that next to the words number sense there must be a picture of dice.  Add dice and there will be number sense to be had!

Number Sense Routines

Make it a routine!  Do the same math activity multiple times…where it becomes a staple in your math block!  In the pictures below is a routine called dot card match-ups!  Simple…yet SO effective for building number sense. I have a full, HUGE number sense routines post with lots of ideas HERE.

Show Numbers in More Than One Way

I always love the days where we learn a new number and talk about the ways we can represent it.  Now, don’t get me wrong the first time they have all kinds of suggestions…4 cats, 4 dogs, 4 tigers…so we work through all that and come up with a product like this one…

                                                            Number Sense Trackers

 Now not that I am promoting that you track more data, but if you are looking for a way to these trackers can be beneficial when thinking about where to lead your future lessons! You can download the freebie trackers by clicking below!

Number Sense Lessons

If you are needing some ideas on getting number sense into your daily math block I just released this new packet!  KinderMath: Number sense! This packet contains 20 number
sense lesson which can be introduced whole group then led to students actively engaging for the activity .  You will also feel comfortable placing these lesson into a math center after you
 have practiced them in a whole group setting a few times.  In this packet you will also
receive 5 additional number sense routines.  These routines are a great opener to your math lesson. They require little to no prep and most get the students activity engaging.

Inside the Packet:
-20 lesson plans with standards listed, materials list, optional data points, 
– 5 whole group number sense routines with standards listed, materials list {if any}, possible data points, and whole group instruction.- 20 independent practice sheets
The packet is on sale through the start of the week! Click below if you’d like to check it out!
And I leave you with…..
馃檪  Have a sweet week!


  1. Thank you again Tara for an amazing post! I love that you included pictures with each idea you had! It helps me to know that with a little rearrangement, I can give my students a reason to LOVE math! Thanks again!

  2. Oh WOW! This is SO INSPIRING! You've got the neatest class ever!!!! Everything's so well ranged and organised!! I really look up to you!!! Thanks for sharing this I really am amazed by how great it is and I'm sure your students benefit from it SO MUCH. Thanks for sharing the worksheets and you experience, these are priceless. I'm going to share it with all my fellow teachers so they can see and be inspired too.

  3. Do you have a picture of your completed organic numberline through 20. I would love to see that to model mine for the new year. I bought your numbersense routine packet and it only shows a picture from 1-5. You can send the picture to kd*********@gm***.com. This is my first year and kinder and I am already addicted to your blog. Thanks for all the helpful information.

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