Number Sense Routines Book Study: Chapter Four

Chapter Four: Counting Routines

This is the fourth part of my number sense routines book study.  Number Sense Routines is written by Jessica Shumway.  Click below to view and purchase the book!  If you are interested in Chapters 1-3 click on the “Book Study: Number Sense Routines” label on the right hand of the screen.

Count around the circle was one of my favorite number sense routines from last year.  I didn’t get a chance to introduce it to my students until midway through the year.  I am excited to start this routine earlier in the school year!  We didn’t always count around the “circle” as we didn’t always have the time to make the circle at the carpet.  If time was limited we simply counted around the carpet {we went down the carpet aisles}.  The students still did very well in knowing when it was their turn.

The book mentions that count around the circle is a whole-class participation activity.  Count around the circle gives each individual student a time to “shine,” however all students are still held accountable to know when it is their turn to go.

How to start count around the circle?

-Choose a counting sequence {1’s, 2’s, 5’s, 10’s}
-To make it a challenge give an alternate starting spot {don’t always start with 1}
-Challenge part 2: have students estimate what number they believe the group will be on when they get to a certain person in the sequence

The text mentions this routine takes several days to establish the expectations and the procedures.  The text goes on to mention two very important expectations:

1. Everyone needs to listen to each person and count in their heads as each person says his or her number.

2. Give everyone some think time when they need it.  {In my classroom we had a standard wait time…the class was allowed to count to five on their fingers.  If their pier did not know the answer then we would answer as a class after the five seconds.}

What happens if the class as a whole is struggling with the count?

-Stop and start a choral {whole class} counting
-Stop and discuss as a class what each student will say as it becomes their turn

As the year progressed and we moved onto harder counting sequencing I equipped each student with a 100’s chart.  The students were responsible for following along the count on their hundreds chart.  When using the chart the students felt confidence in their answering.

Grab a freebie 100’s chart below! 🙂

The book defines choral counting as simply counting aloud a number sequence as a whole class.  In choral counting children are able to hear their classmates and join in the counting without the fear of “being on the spot.”  Choral counting is a good way for students to practice a new counting sequence {before moving on to count around the circle.}

Making it Visual:

As students are counting the teacher can be pointing to the number sequence   The teacher might point to a number line, 100’s chart, or some form of a Smartboard display.  As the teacher is pointing to each number as the students count ..students are connecting the visual number to the choral counting number.  However, the book does mention to change it up and at times to not use a visual display.  This way students do not become too dependent on their visual memory.

Getting Started with Choral Counting:

Make choral counting kinesthetic- – have students move a counting cube into their pile as they count by one.  As the students become more confident have them make ten sticks. The text also mentions having students move their bodies as they are counting.

Organic number line is something I heard about mid-year last year.  I didn’t have an opportunity to start it right off so I’m excited for that this year!  The idea behind an organic number line is that students help build it and because of that they have a connection and understanding to the number line.  I am guilty of having all kinds of fun and cute “stuff” in my classroom.  I usually get to a point where I explain each item and its purpose to my students.  However, haven’t we all been guilty of a student questioning what we use/how we use something displayed in the classroom.  With this “organic” number line the students are involved with 100% of it’s making.  
The book begins describing the organic number line as best for older grade students working with fractions.  However, our young students stand to benefit from it as well.  It is completely up to the teacher as how to set up the number line.  
Here are some ideas for setting up your display:

set this packet up like a number sense display you have a couple of options-
place magnets on the back and display on a whiteboard/chalkboard, or  you could hang a rope/string and
have the number sense display attach to that!

 This display is like not like an ordinary number line. Basically,
you will add to it as you teach the concepts. 
There is no reason to confuse our students with information that makes
no sense to them at the time.  Place only
the items you have covered and add the others as they are introduced. 

At the beginning of the year you may only
have just the numbers, but towards middle-end of the year you will have all
concepts added.  Tips: when placing the
numbers on the number sense display invite the children to help you do
this.  Have them decide where the numbers
should go- possibly starting with 1 and 20….then have students decide where the
numbers in the middle would go. 

make the number sense display in a visible location within the classroom.  I like to have mine in an eye level spot
where if needed my students can approach the display as a resource. 
Make this number sense display with for

A display using string.

A display using magnets on the backs.

Everything you would need to set up your display can be found in this packet!

and if you are wanting numbers to 31….
I will be back with Chapter Five: playing with quantities!  Have a great start to your week!


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Number Sense Routines Book Study: Chapter One

Hi friends!  I hope you are enjoying your Summer or getting close to it 🙂  I  am very excited to get this book study started.  I am totally new to this so stick with me!

Chapter One

This chapter starts with an example of four children working through  a mathematical problem, 600-378.  Each of the students were at different levels of number sense.  This was clear by how the children were responding with how they would solve the problem.

If you were to ask me in third grade or honestly even now what 600-378 was I would line them up and start taking away from the zero, moving over a place and taking away from the 6.  I wouldn’t think twice about it.  However, I was so impressed that these third graders had much better ideas on how to solve this problem.  The student “Anita” showed the largest sense  of number sense.

I think this is why I love the idea of teaching number sense to my Kindergartners …because I am learning right a long with them!  Even as adults we can learn strategies and change our “set in stone” ways.

The next section went into why we should teach number sense.  It mentioned that **students with a strong number sense will look at mathematics as a form of reaching understandings…rather than just looking at math as a set of rules to follow.**

The book then mentioned 10 qualities students with a strong number sense  will possess:

1. A sense of what numbers mean.

2. An ability to look at the world in quantities.

3. An ability to make comparisons of quantities.

4.  An ability to be flexible, automatic, and fluent with numbers.

5. Ability to perform mental math.

6. Ability to be flexible with problems.
7.  Ability to be automatic with math information.
8. An ability to determine reasonableness of an answer.

9. An ability to decide on a strategy depending on the numbers given.

So, now it’s your turn!  Comment below in the comments section or link up using the “grab my button” on my right side bar.
Place the button on your blog and answer the questions below.

1. What is your current comfort level with teaching number sense?
2. What have you already started in your classroom to build number sense?
3. What have you considered adding to your classroom that will give your students that much needed “multiple exposures” component?

I will be back on Tuesday, June 18th with my answers to the questions above and Chapter 2:  Improving Number Sense- -Routines that are not recognized

If you have yet to link up do that below! 🙂



  1. I am so excited to be following along as I read this book! I ordered a book for a dear friend and colleague of mine who's in Kindergarten. I'm making the move to 1st grade, but I'm thrilled I can still use so much of your stuff. Ok…on to the questions:
    1. I would say that thanks to the Common Core, I am more comfortable with teaching Number Sense now…BUT I had never really approached number sense in the way I have now so I have a long ways to go.
    2. I have started number exploration activities that include Part-Part-Whole. I've used dice, unifix cubes, counting bears along with the Part-Part-Whole mat to help develop a better understanding that there are different ways to make a number. I have also used exchange games like Win a Flat and Win a Bundle to help with place value concepts.
    3. I know that I have to be more cognizant of different strategies that lead to the same answer. I definitely plan on having my students take the time to explain how they arrived at an answer more frequently so that students can be exposed to different methods and decide for themselves which would be the best for them. I would also make an effort to present Math problems and allow them to explore possible solutions the same way Chapter 1 begins.

    Can't wait for Chapter 2!

    Vivian 🙂

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