Number sense is such an important part of the math curriculum in lower elementary grades. It is up to us to be sure our students gain a solid foundation so they can keep growing their knowledge and skill base as they get older. This is done by teaching and reinforcing these skills intentionally on a daily basis. There are many different ways to teach number sense in your classroom. Today, I’d like to walk you through building number sense through number of the week.
What is Number Sense?
No need to over complicate things here. Number sense is simply gaining a sense of what numbers mean. We think about the value of a number, we compare numbers to each other, and we decide which numbers are smaller and larger in terms of number sense. An important part of number sense is also realizing what numbers mean in the world around us. It is always fun to watch as students begin to grasp numbers and their true meaning. I love those little light bulb moments in the classroom.
Practicing Number Sense in the Classroom
Number sense is such an important and foundational skill that it should be part of our daily classroom routine. It is imperative that we are intentional about building number sense activities into our classrooms. I begin these important concepts each year with Number of the Week. I have found that by focusing on one number each week, students have enough time to grasp all the different number sense concepts we cover.
Number of the Week is great to use as part of a morning meeting or morning calendar time. During this time we practice number identification, counting sets, one-to-one correspondence, counting on, comparing numbers and more. Through the course of the week, students learn to identify the number, write the number and start building an understanding of what the number represents. This is number sense building in action!
I also like to weave number sense activities throughout our day. Transitions are a great time to practice counting as a class, line up in groups that match the number of the day, and search for the number as you walk through the halls of the school. All of these activities not only build number sense skills, but they start applying numbers to real life.
As I teach a number each week, there are some key components that I make sure are included. Here’s some of the most important concepts and how I like to teach them in my classroom.
1. Number Identification
Number identification is the first thing you should start with. Students need to be able to recognize and name a number. What follows is their ability to write the number so they can use numbers in their verbal and written communications.
Each week when I introduce a number this is where we start. I display a large number poster in the front of the room. We look at the number, name the number and then practice tracing and writing the number. There are many fun ways to work on number recognition with our young students.
- Create a Number Anchor Chart
- Go on a Number Scavenger Hunt
- Play a game of Number Swat
- Practice writing numbers in shaving cream
- Build numbers with play dough
I like to incorporate these, and many more, number identification activities into our morning meeting, math block and centers. The more opportunities students have to work with the number of the week, the faster they will learn to identify, name and write it.
Once students have been introduced to the number it is also important to work on counting to the target n umber and from the target number. Although we at the beginning of the year we are starting with numbers like 1, 2, and 3 we work on counting to 10, 20 and beyond. Since we don’t stop with the number of week we create a class action that we do every time we say the target number when we are counting. Sometimes we blast off like rockets and other times we give a big clap over the top of our heads. Whatever we do, our number of the week gets a little extra attention.
While we are counting, I also like to challenge my students to start and stop counting with different numbers. This ability to start counting with a number other than 0 or 1 helps them build fluency with their counting. We will start counting with the number of the week and keep going. Other times we will count up to the number of the week and stop. And still other times we will work on counting backwards to the target number. Mix it up and have fun with it and your students will develop strong counting skills.
3. Building Sets
Learning what a number represents is an important part of building strong number sense skills. Once students can count to the number of the week, they are ready to start building sets. These hands-on activities really help them start to understand the value of each number.
This allows kiddos to really visualize what a number looks like in different areas of life. There are so many different manipulatives you can use for these activities. Some of my favorites include mini-erasers, buttons, Legos and even the students themselves! Get the students building sets to represent numbers using anything and everything around you!
One activity my students LOVE is going on a scavenger hunt around the school. We will stop in different places and look for the number or count out the number. We also love going outside to the playground too! Have students build the number by finding leaves, rocks, or sticks. Let them take turns swinging or sliding the number of times to match the number. Make sure to have them count as they swing or slide for a little extra practice. Getting them outside and moving is a great way to help those kinesthetic learners!
4. Incorporate Technology
Technology is our friend! Actually, it is more than that – technology is our students’ future. We owe it to them to include a variety of technology based activities into their learning. While we may not start with building video games or presentations in kindergarten, we can use learning activities to help them learn the basics like moving a mouse, typing and dragging objects.
Number of the Week Digital Math Activities
I created a digital Number of the Week resource for my students. These digital activities work on all the important number sense skills. I love to use them as part of our whole group learning time and also as a math center. They are also great to share with parents who are looking for some educational screen time activities.
Your students will love practicing their numbers and number sense skills using the computer or a tablet. These Number of the Week activities will have your students identifying, recognizing, and counting numbers using interactive Google Slides activities.
Each number includes 5 days of activities that will guide your students through a variety of number sense activities. Here’s what you get for each number:
- Day 1: video, build number, sort number, cover it up
- Day 2: video, build number, number maze
- Day 3: video, build number, count the objects, type the number
- Day 4: video, build the number, cover it up
- Day 5: video, build the number, sort the number, read the number
If you want more details on our daily Number of the Week plans, check out this post.
I know that you and your students will love these digital Number of the Week activities. But don’t take my word for it – instead try it out yourself in your classroom. Grab this free Number of the Week resource and see for yourself just how it helps your students.
If you are ready to add these digital Number of the Week number sense activities to your lesson plans and math centers, you can grab the 0-20 Number of the Week Bundle in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
Save This for Later!
Be sure to pin this to your favorite math board so you’ll be prepped and ready to begin building number sense through number of the day.