Teaching students about numbers is more than just learning how to count by rote. Instead, our students need to develop a strong understanding of what numbers represent. Teaching number sense in kindergarten is an important part of the curriculum because these concepts will help our students as they learn math for years to come. Keep reading for some helpful tips and resources to help your students improve number sense in kindergarten!
The Importance of Teaching Number Sense
When students enter kindergarten, they usually represent a wide range of prior knowledge when it comes to numbers. Some students can confidently identify numbers up to 100 while other students are still working on counting by rote to ten. Even with this wide range, all students benefit from explicit number sense instruction.
Between number identification, counting by rote, one-to-one correspondence, and number formation, there are many different number sense concepts for your kindergarteners to practice! All students will have number sense strengths as well as areas for improvement, so it’s important to use a variety of strategies and activities for teaching numbers in your classroom.
Tips for Teaching Number Sense in Kindergarten
Teaching students about numbers is one of my favorite parts of a new school year! I wanted to share with you some of my favorite tried-and-true tips for teaching number sense in kindergarten.
1. Start at the Beginning
Developing number sense is like building the foundation of a house. If you have gaps in the foundation, it won’t provide a solid structure. To prevent gaps in number sense, you want students to have a very good understanding of numbers one to ten before moving on to teen numbers.
It might be tempting to skip over numbers one, two, or three because students appear to “know” those numbers. Instead, you can use these numbers to help you establish a number sense routine in your classroom.
2. Create a Number Sense Routine
Making number sense practice consistent is very helpful when you’re teaching young students about numbers. When you use similar activities to practice numbers, students are able to focus on the new number instead of how to navigate a brand-new activity.
For example, I love to use number boards as the framework for number sense instruction. We focus on one number at a time as we work through a variety of activities to practice that number. The activities correspond to the different representations of the number on the board. This becomes an anchor chart for the students, but it also provides consistency and routine for our number sense practice.
3. Teach Multiple Strategies and Number Representations
It is essential that students are exposed to multiple strategies and representations of numbers. Every student in your kindergarten class is unique and learns differently.
You never know which strategy will be the one that clicks for an individual student, so it’s important to use several as you teach numbers in kindergarten.
4. Use Real-Life Examples
As important as it is for students to learn how to use ten frames and number lines, it’s equally important for them to understand that numbers are in the world around them.
One way to do this is through the number sense activities you choose to use in your classroom. You could have students stand in groups of your focus number to help them see one way to represent numbers. You could also add real-world-inspired counters to number sense practice, like the row of ducks on the number line above.
5. Talk About Numbers Regularly
Another way that you can help your students see numbers and math concepts in the world around them is to talk about them regularly. Don’t reserve math words for math time! The more you talk about numbers with your students, the more likely they will be to recognize math in the real world. This will make numbers more meaningful for them, creating a stronger foundation for their future math skills.
It’s also important for students to talk about numbers themselves! I love to use printable hats as conversation starters for my students. When they wear their number hats to the bus stop or parent pick-up line, someone is bound to ask them about what they’re wearing on their heads. This encourages students to talk about numbers and it reinforces the concepts they practiced in class.
6. Use Hands-On Activities
Finally, it’s important for students to be able to learn about numbers in a hands-on, engaging way. This helps their brains make more connections as they develop number sense.
Whether it’s creating flip books, filling in ten frames with dot painting or rainbow writing to practice correct number formation, there are many hands-on activities that can enhance your number sense instruction!
You can also incorporate your number sense activities into different parts of your daily routine in order to keep engagement high. Number sense worksheets and activities are perfect for morning work time, math centers, small group instruction, and even for fast finishers!
Printables for Teaching Number Sense
If you’d like to add some fresh number sense activities to your teacher toolbox, I’ve got you covered! I have put together a huge bundle with everything you need to teach numbers one through 20 with a consistent routine.
These number sense printables are engaging and provide many opportunities for your students to practice each number before moving on to the next. Since the activities use a similar format for each number, students are able to get right to work for independent number sense practice!
Save These Tips for Teaching Number Sense
If these tips and activities would be helpful to you as you teach numbers in kindergarten, be sure to save this post before you go! Just add the pin below to your favorite teaching board on Pinterest. You’ll be able to quickly come back to these number sense tips and resources whenever you need them!