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Deedee Wills - Mrs. Wills Kindergarten

Fun Number Sense Activities for Kindergarten

Number sense activities for kindergarten

Do you need math strategies and tips for building number sense in your kindergarten class? In this blog post, you will find a number of math sense activities and resources that include: books, materials, math manipulatives, and even FREE activities! I am excited to share my favorite number sense activities for kindergarten with easy ways to help increase your students’ confidence with numbers.

Let’s first go over some number sense terms, then I will show you some number sense activities that will help you teach number sense in a fun way.

What is Number Sense?

In simple terms, number sense is a person’s ability to understand, relate, and connect numbers. Children with strong number sense are able to think fluidly and flexibly about numbers. Our goal is for a child to discuss, use and understand numbers. This understanding helps students identify number relationships in order to solve mathematical problems.

The term numbers sense includes number recognition, simple counting, number relationships, decomposing numbers, and writing numbers. Having a strong number sense at an early age is essential for a child’s ability to understand the more complex skills they will encounter later in 1st grade or 2nd grade.

math strategies and tips for building number sense to 20 in Kindergarten and first grade? Grab your free activity and learn how to teach number sense. Lots of math sense activities and resources that include: books, materials, math manipulatives, and even FREE activities! I am excited to share my favorite number sense activities with easy ways to help increase your students' number sense skills.

The Importance of Number Sense

Number sense “encourages students to think flexibly and promotes confidence with numbers.” Young children who do not have number sense will struggle to enjoy math. It will be hard to establish a foundation that is needed for basic arithmetic. Having a strong number sense allows children to manipulate numbers and be flexible in their approach to solving mathematical equations. They can identify patterns in numbers in order to solve problems more efficiently. (Devlin, Keith. “Number Sense: The Most Important Mathematical Concept in 21st Century K-12 Education.” Huffington Post, Oath Inc., 1 Jan. 2017)

math strategies and tips for building number sense to 20 in Kindergarten and first grade? Grab your free activity and learn how to teach number sense. Lots of math sense activities and resources that include: books, materials, math manipulatives, and even FREE activities! I am excited to share my favorite number sense activities with easy ways to help increase your students' number sense skills.

Students must first experience these math skills as part of our daily math lessons. Then these activities can become one of our math center activities.

Subitizing and Number Sense

Subitizing is the ability to identify small groups of objects without counting them. This is a foundational skill in the development of number sense. We use subitizing when we roll a die and instantly know the number by looking.

This important mental math skill aids in solving problems, as well as understanding numbers. Research states that students use perceptual subitizing with objects under 5. Beyond 5 objects, students begin conceptually subitizing by combining or counting on.

Subitizing is a beginning skill in the number sense umbrella. According to research, a strong understanding of numbers continues to develop over time through the exploration of numbers, visualizing numbers, and relating to numbers in different ways. Having number sense provides a strong foundation for:

  • Understanding number and quantity relationship.
  • Knowledge of number symbols and vocabulary.
  • Engaging in systematic counting, including sequential order
  • Recognizing number patterns and identifying missing numbers.
  • Ability to solve simple math equations.

(Hornigold, Judy. “Number Sense.” Maths No Problem, 14 Sept. 2017)

12 Kindergarten Number Sense Activities

These engaging activities are perfect for helping your students become more confident in their number sense skills.

1. Rote Counting

First and foremost, it is essential to have students practice counting out loud! In the early years, children need to hear what numbers sound like and learn the number order. Oral counting activities are an important part of kindergarten number sense.

You can practice rote counting with your students by:

  • Counting with your students by starting at one and counting on.
  • Use a hundreds chart so students can visually see the numeral. Point to each number as you say it.
  • Similarly, use a number line and point to the number as you count. A laser pointer can be extremely helpful!

2. One-to-One Correspondence

You can add manipulatives such as bears or counting chips to your counting activities. This gives students the chance to connect rote counting to the actual counting of objects.

math strategies and tips for building number sense to 20 in Kindergarten and first grade? Grab your free activity and learn how to teach number sense. Lots of math sense activities and resources that include: books, materials, math manipulatives, and even FREE activities! I am excited to share my favorite number sense activities with easy ways to help increase your students' number sense skills.

Practicing one-to-one correspondence can help students understand the “why” behind counting. We’re not just reciting numbers out loud to pass the time!

3. Counting Strategies

When we add manipulatives to the mix, it can be tricky for little hands to keep their objects organized as they count!

You can share different counting strategies with your students and they can choose their favorite way to stay organized as they count. A counting strategies anchor chart is a helpful visual to keep on hand.

4. Dot Cards

Dot cards are a great way to practice subitizing and sense of numbers. This simple activity can be done in your whole group fluency practice or in small group lessons.

Flash a card briefly. When a child thinks they know the number shown on the card, they blow the number into their fist and keep their fist pressed against their mouth. This is a simple way to keep competitive kids from blurting the answer.

You will want to watch for those kiddos who are counting the dots one by one and also see how quickly each student determines the number.

Call individual students and ask what number they saw. Don’t be surprised if you get different responses! Put your poker face on and be prepared to receive different responses.  Then show the card again and call on several of your little learners to tell you how they knew what number was on the card.

5. Number Sense Math Talk

It can be helpful for your students to hear how their peers see numbers. They might discover a new strategy that works for them! 

Choose a dot card and have students tell you how they were able to see the total number of dots. As you have your number sense math talk, you can document student responses on an anchor chart.

number sense activities and number sense anchor chart with math talks

You might hear kids say:

  • “I saw 4  and 2 more.  I know 4 and 2 are 6.”
  • “I counted them all.”
  • “I saw 4 and counted on – 5, 6.”
  • “It kind of looks like a messy 6 on a dice!”
  • “I saw a 5 like on a dice, then just one more is 6!”
number sense activities and number sense anchor chart with math talks

Each of these responses gives you insight into the child’s understanding of numbers and their mathematical thinking. 

Then you can repeat this activity with different cards. You will want to start with smaller numbers of dots and then build up to more complex combinations.

Naturally, you will can then move on to encouraging students to have number sense math talks with their partners.

6. Matching Numbers to Quantities

We want to provide different activities that allow students to connect a number of objects with a written numeral. Providing a variety of ways to practice this skill will keep it fun and game-like! 

To practice matching quanities to numbers, students can:

  • Match a specific quantity to a number or number word
  • Match two sets of objects together, such as 4 pom poms and a domino
  • Match a number card with a subitizing card.

7. Ten Frames

Ten frame activities offer a great way to help students organize numbers so they can easily be counted. They aren’t simply just memorizing numbers or counting without meaning. It shows kids the value of numbers.

math strategies and tips for building number sense to 20 in Kindergarten and first grade? Grab your free activity and learn how to teach number sense. Lots of math sense activities and resources that include: books, materials, math manipulatives, and even FREE activities! I am excited to share my favorite number sense activities with easy ways to help increase your students' number sense skills.

Additionally, ten frames help anchor numbers to 5 and 10. This is one of the important skills students need as they begin working with larger numbers.

8. Making 10 Game

One of the number sense games my students love is Making 10. They start with a simple math ten frame. With a partner, they take turns rolling this a die that has a 1, 2, or 3 on it.

Students then add cubes to their shared ten frame to reflect the number they rolled.

Then they state, “I have {the number of total objects }. I need { the total amount still needed } to make ten.” This is learning fun at its greatest and this is one of the math games they love to play over and over.

Besides practicing basic math facts in a hands on way, you can also quickly see which students can count on from the last given number and which students need to recount them all with each turn.

9. Number Sense Centers

Once you have taught and practiced number sense skills together as a class, it is time for students to “overlearn” these skills during math centers

math strategies and tips for building number sense to 20 in Kindergarten and first grade? Grab your free activity and learn how to teach number sense. Lots of math sense activities and resources that include: books, materials, math manipulatives, and even FREE activities! I am excited to share my favorite number sense activities with easy ways to help increase your students' number sense skills.

For example, this number sense center gives students the chance to practice skills like number identification, numerical order, subitizing, and counting.

10. Math Counting Puzzles

This is another number sense activity that’s perfect for math centers! Students will put the number puzzle together, then practice writing the numeral.  

The pieces of each puzzle contain a different representation of that number. This makes it a great option for additional number sense practice. Plus, students love these puzzles!

11. Number Sense Read Alouds

We love reading books that help students with number sense.  Here are few you might already have in your classroom math book bin.  You will find Amazon Affiliate Links below.

Every Buddy Counts by Stuart J. Murphy

Here is a summary of the book from Amazon:

Every Buddy Counts is perfect for teaching counting to pre-K through kindergarteners. You can start with one little hamster and keep counting past six slinky fish, eight favorite playmates, and more—all the way up to ten cuddly teddy bears. With buddies, counting is fun!

I have made this math center activity as a companion activity for Every Buddy Counts.

Animals on Board by Stuart J. Murphy

Here is what Amazon had to say about this book:

Animals on Board is perfect for teaching adding to first, second, and third graders. Ride along with trucker Jill and her dog as they add up the animals passing by on other trucks. But these are no ordinary animals, and they’re bound for a surprise destination! 

These are the extension activities that you can use in your classroom with Animals on Board.

12. Low-Prep Number Sense Printables

These number sense printables are perfect for math centers, morning work, or any time your students could use a little additional number sense practice. All you need is black ink!

In this activity, students count the number of objects and then practice writing the numeral.

In this activity, students count the individual objects and then write the total number for each.

Students can also practice making ten using this printable ten frame activity.

Printable Kindergarten Math Curriculum

I hope these activity ideas have given you some inspiration for teaching number sense in kindergarten. 

What if you could have all of the group math activities you need to support your students all year long? Our Kindergarten Math Curriculum does just that for busy kindergarten teachers! 

It’s full of detailed lesson plans, activity ideas, and math printables that you can use to support your math instruction all year long. All in one organized printable curriculum!

Free Number Sense Activity

Here is a free and fun Making 10 math center activity you can use in your own classroom! Just fill out your information below and I’ll send it straight to your inbox.

 
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Number sense activities for kindergarten

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Deedee Wills

My teaching career allowed me to experience teaching in different classroom environments and grades. My heart belongs to early childhood education. My job is to make teaching FUN, ENGAGING, and EASIER. Welcome!

Hi, I'm DeedeE.

My teaching career allowed me to experience teaching in different classroom environments and grades. My heart belongs to early childhood education. My job is to make teaching FUN, ENGAGING, and EASIER. Welcome!
 

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