Number Sense and The Number System

Number sense is the process of children using numbers, understanding their relationships to each other and applying this knowledge to a range of situations. Children will come to school with a range of understanding and will need a variety of activities and experiences in order for them to make appropriate links and develop a strong sense of number.

Number Sense – Counting Skills

In order to develop strong number sense children need to have a good understanding of the following:

  1. Number system – Recognition of the digits used to represent numbers in and out of their specific order and the ability to recite them.
  2. One to one correspondence – The ability to count objects using the number system above, giving one name to each item.
  3. Cardinality – The ability to understand that the final number in any count correlates to the amount of objects counted and represented.
  4. Subitising – The ability to recognise quantities of objects through patterns and knowledge of number.

Activities that allow children to develop these skills alongside each other are important in developing, understanding and making links, all of which will contribute to their number sense. In my next blog, I am going to look at each one of them along with the type of activities that can be done to support children in developing these skills.

Number Sense and the Number System

There are a whole range of activities that you can do to support children in learning the number system and its specific order:

6 Free Cards for your Song Sack
  • Counting songs and rhymes
  • Act out the number rhymes e.g. set up a bakery and sing 5 currant buns, lay out some blue fabric for the five speckled frogs to jump into.
  • Make a number rhyme song sack with these 6 free number cards.
  • Counting games -Everyone in the circle stands up. Agree on a number to count up to e.g. 8. Take it in turns to count around the circle. Whoever says number 8 sits down and the count starts again. The winner is the last one standing. Display the number cards throughout the activity to support the children in making the connection. Don’t forget to start on 0. Different versions of this game can be played – everyone starts sitting and the winner is the last one sitting. As the children get better at this, an action can be added before or after each number is said e.g. sit down and clap or turn around and sit down etc. Once the children are really confident, start counting from a different number instead.
  • Hide and Seek – count to 10 while everyone else goes to hide.
  • Daily calendar activities – counting up to the date each day.

Numbers 1-3 Activity Pack

Focusing on small sets of numbers at a time will ensure that children develop a really good understanding of each number and improve their number sense accordingly. The following activity pack will allow children to do this in a fun and practical way.

Place different windows on the caravan either spots, digits or fingers from 1 to 3. Children need to place the correct number of people on the caravan according to the number displayed.

Numbered Ice-Creams

Children can either order numbers 1 to 3 or put the correct number of scoops on the cone according to the number depicted. This will help children to with both number recognition of these early numbers and counting out small quantities.

Number Worksheets

Using these worksheets, children will make sets of 1, 2 and 3 by circling the pictures in specific colours. They will also add missing objects to the pictures of which there will again, either be 1, 2, or 3. Finally, using the number strips children can practise their number formation. Laminated, they can be re-used over and over again.

Head over to my shop to get a copy of the Number 1-3 activity pack and improve your children’s number sense.

Vertical number lines can be very useful in allowing children to see how numbers change as they progress up the number line. The games below reinforce this concept.

number sense

The games can either be played with the tower base board or the train track base board. Each player has a board and either a princess card or a train card depending on which game is being played. At the simplest level children take it in turns to roll a die and move that number of steps. The first one to reach the top of the tower or the end of the train track is the winner and win a prince card or train ticket respectively.

Alternatively, for those children who are a little bit more advanced with their understanding of number, they can play the game using the instruction cards. Children take it in turns to select an instruction card from the top of the pile. They follow the instructions according to what the card says e.g. ‘go to number 4’, ‘2 more’, ‘1 less’, etc. Again, the first one to get to the end of the number line is the winner.

For those children that are ready, there are more and less worksheets for them to complete with a vertical number line down the side of the page to support in finding the answers.

There are also vertical number lines that can be cut out and laminated and used to support with other number activities.

Number Sense – Number Recognition

As well as being able to say the numbers in sequence children will also need to recognise the numbers but this can often come much later. The vertical number line games above will support number recognition but also in the pack, there are numbered clothes that can be cut out and laminated and used for ordering on a washing line. The clothes can either be ordered or the children could find missing numbers on the washing line that is partly made.

For a copy of the number system pack visit my teacherspayteachers store or my tes store.

More number activities can be found here, or if you would like more math’s activities then visit my blog on estimation or pattern.