5 Must Try Classroom Tools for Building Number Sense

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A listing of actions that construct quantity sense within the elementary math classroom. Especially for 1st and 2nd graders.

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number sense activities especially for 1st and 2nd grade math classrooms


“Mrs. Braun?” a second grader requested. “What comes after September?” With a smile, I responded, “October,” however my abdomen tightened prefer it does after I understand I’ve left my curling iron on at dwelling.

My college students don’t know the months of the yr?!? I assumed they already knew these!

I discovered that day that my second graders nonetheless wanted a calendar routine. Teaching one lesson, on someday, in regards to the sequence of the months within the yr would by no means handle it! They wanted temporary follow periods, day-after-day.

Number sense is rather like that.

Read on for straightforward routines you need to use to construct sturdy quantity sense over time in your classroom.


Counting Routines

If I had a greenback for each time I counted (or skip counted) with kids…!  But that’s the one means for them to actually grasp it, they’ve acquired to follow and anyone’s acquired to lead them within the follow.  As a 2nd grade

But that’s the one means for them to actually grasp it, they’ve acquired to follow and anyone’s acquired to lead them within the follow.  As a 2nd grade trainer I all the time devoted a few classes to skip counting however it’s actually one thing that has to be briefly revisited many occasions. Skip counting routines are simply the factor!  Here’s how they work:

  1. Everyone stands in a circle.
  2. Everyone counts aloud collectively (by 1s, by 5s, beginning at 247, backward, by 10s beginning at 480, and many others.)
  3. Once pupil are snug with the sequence, depend across the circle (just one pupil says every quantity).


*Set the expectation that all people wants to depend collectively, no one purposely tries to go quicker or slower.  When you’re counting across the circle and just one individual is saying a quantity at a time, let college students know that everybody else wants to be counting of their heads.  Teach them that if somebody will get caught, all people

*When you’re counting across the circle and just one individual is saying a quantity at a time, let college students know that everybody else wants to be counting of their heads.  Teach them that if somebody will get caught, all people

*Teach them that if somebody will get caught, all people wants to give them wait time to assume somewhat than blurting out the quantity.


This exercise is ideal for these little 5 minute blocks of time you end up attempting to fill from time to time.  It’s necessary for college students to get snug with counting and skip counting up to 1000 as a result of it is going to assist them with psychological math, telling time, counting cash, and many others.

This concept comes from the e-book Number Sense Routines by Jessica Shumway.




Number Arrangements


Embarrassing confession time:

In elementary faculty I used to be actually quick at relying on or again to clear up math issues….soooo…..I simply by no means really memorized many fundamental details.

That was till a math strategies class in school after I discovered in regards to the idea of quantity combos (all of the combos that make a quantity) I discovered it to be a significantly better means to study details!

If you study all of the combos that make 6 (zero and 6, 1 and 5, 2 and four, and many others.) then it’s straightforward to do each the addition and the subtraction details.  Knowing how numbers may be damaged aside and put again collectively additionally helps with issues fixing.


Number arrangements and other number sense building activities for elementary math classrooms, especially 1st and 2nd grade


Number association actions assist college students to internalize quantity combos.  It’s excellent for these first few afternoons again in school when everyone seems to be so drained as a result of their our bodies aren’t on the college schedule but.  Here’s how it really works:


  1. Students divide a chunk of building paper into eight components (fold in half, then in half once more, then in half yet one more time).
  2. Choose one thing to make preparations with (I’m utilizing noodles right here however you can use strips of paper, toothpicks, foam tiles, and many others.)
  3. Tell college students the quantity they’re working with for the day.  In the image I’m utilizing the quantity 5.  In each rectangle there have to be precisely 5 noodles.
  4. Students organize and glue down their supplies.
  5. Students write an equation to characterize every association.

This is a superb introduction to the thought of subitizing if college students haven’t ever completed it earlier than.  I like to do the exercise just a few occasions utilizing completely different supplies and a special focus quantity every time.  This may change into a math middle.


Read extra about this concept and plenty of different quantity sense actions within the e-book Developing Number Concepts: Book 2 by: Kathy Richardson.



Counting with Place Value

Counting with Place Value, using manipulatives with counting to develop a strong understanding of place valueIn my final faculty it was a 2nd grade ceremony of passage to write the numbers to 1000.  This looks as if a frightening activity however it’s a part of the Common Core requirements and when damaged up into chunks it’s completely do-able.  I like to get kids began with manipulatives to evaluate the place worth they discovered in 1st grade and to actually get them snug with place worth within the a whole lot.


Here’s what you do:

  1. Students put 1 counter of their ones part and write “1” in a pocket book or on a clean a whole lot grid.  Then they add a second counter and write the quantity “2.”  I’m utilizing buttons for counters within the image however I’ve additionally used beans or dry macaroni noodles.
  2. They maintain going till they get to the quantity 10.  At this level they group their counters up right into a ketchup cup (thanks McDonalds!) and transfer it over to the tens part.
  3. Keep counting!  Every time a brand new ten is made, the counters go in a cup and get moved over.  It turns into very clear how the written numeral is expounded to the counters (ex: we’ve three cups of counters and 5 extras so the written numeral is 35).
  4. When college students get to 100, they take their 10 small cups of counters and put them collectively in a much bigger cup.  Then the large cup strikes to the a whole lot area.

By about 250, kids begin asking if they will simply write the numbers somewhat than persevering with to use the counters and I allow them to.  If they get caught or confused later I’ve them construct the final quantity they had been certain of and use the counters to assist themselves maintain going.  A number of “ah-ha” moments occur throughout this exercise!


Counting with Place Value, using manipulatives while counting to develop a strong understanding of place value   


The Hiding Game


The Hiding Game, a fun and easy game that helps students internalize number combinations


Here’s one other enjoyable and easy means to follow quantity combos:

  1. Students select (or are assigned) a quantity to work with between 5 and 10.  They get that many counters.
  2. The first participant hides a number of the counters of their hand and reveals the second participant the remaining counters.
  3. The second participant tries to decide how many counters are hiding by trying on the counters which can be seen.
  4. Students change roles.

In this image, the quantity 7 is being practiced.  One pupil hides three of the counters of their hand (they might fully shut their hand, not like the image), leaving four seen.  The different college students is aware of there are 7 counters complete and may see that four are displaying.  He/She tries to decide how many counters are hiding.  After a number of rounds, the scholars begin to internalize all of the combos that may make up the quantity they’re working towards.


The earlier three concepts come from the e-book Developing Number Concepts #2 by Kathy Richardson.



Math Running Records

My final must-try quantity sense software is the maths operating file.  Yes, I did simply use “math” and “running record” in the identical sentence!  When college students fill in timed math assessments you’ll be able to measure how many details they will full in 1 minute however you actually don’t know what methods they’re utilizing and the place to information them subsequent.


Math Running Record - these are the steps for this assessment which gives you a look at what math strategies your students are using

If you’re concerned with attempting math operating information, I’ve assessments and recording kinds already made up.  Click the image beneath to examine them out in my TpT store.


Math Running Record, assess the strategies your students are using

Check out the multiplication and division model here.

Follow my math board on Pinterest for extra 1st-Third math concepts:

Follow Hannah @ The Classroom Key’s board Math on Pinterest.

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Hannah Braun

Hannah Braun
Hannah Braun is a former trainer with eight years of expertise within the classroom and a grasp’s diploma in early childhood training. She designs participating, organized classroom resources for 1st-Third grade academics.