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Building Strong Number Sense For Little Learners

We all know that a solid foundation in mathematics is important to a child’s overall educational success. But helping our students go from just knowing numbers and basic concepts, to really understanding how to apply those concepts independently, and in a way that makes sense to them, is a process. 

Number Sense is Important

Building your students’ number sense is like building reading comprehension. Students aren’t just identifying numbers, they are understanding what they really mean, and applying it in a deeper, lasting way. 

Here’s where to start when it comes to teaching number sense

REMEMBER: Hands-on experiences are a MUST! Check out this blog post  for some great ideas for simple manipulatives to keep you rolling, PLUS access to digital manipulatives for our distance learning and hybrid classrooms.

Leave your info below and I’ll send you FREE number lines to cut and laminate for centers, intervention, extra practice, and more.

Here are some more ideas to put to use in your class:


Have students count things in everyday life. Ask them to count how many friends are in their reading group. Have them draw a picture of their family and count how many family members they have. If you pass out treats at a holiday party ask them to count how many different items they have. Get students to make connections between the numbers they say when they count to the actual value that those numbers equate to. 

Match numbers to quantities 

An interactive way to do this would be to set up different stations throughout your classroom and have students go around with a pencil and paper and write down how many objects are at each station. One station may have rubber ducks in bins that the students have to count how many are in each bin. Another station could have a pumpkin or apple that is cut in half and students have to count how many seeds they see and write that number on their paper.  

Show numbers in different ways 

Number cubes are a great tool to use to get kids to physically see what number values represent. Ten frames are also great in this aspect and with ten frames students can also practice adding and subtracting. Number flashcards are also a great tool for getting students to visually see numbers and the value they represent. 

Order Numbers 

Give students activities where they practice filling in the blanks of what becomes before and after numbers. 

Place Value Activities (for numbers larger than 10)

One of my favorite place value activities is giving students a card with two sections – ones and tens. Then giving them number cubes. As you call out the number they put cubes in the appropriate column to represent the number you called out. So, when you call out 15 they will put one cube in the tens column and five cubes in the ones column.  

Comparing numbers 

Teach this with manipulatives so students can see the values. You can use number cubes, pom pom balls, M and M’s- anything at all they can put their hands on and count the values.  

Math Resources you need!

As teachers we have a lot to teach, and little time to prep engaging activities that will help grow those skills. So, to save you time and stress I’ve put together some fun resources that you and your students will both love!  

Manipulative Magic! 

Whether you are looking for Digital Manipulatives to use in your classroom, or for virtual learning, here’s a digital manipulatives resource that you can use with your smartboard for whole group practice, or on individual devices.

Looking for a more hands-on approach? With this Manipulative Math Flip Book your students will love using these challenging and engaging activities everyday, and you will be able to see where your students are at with Number Sense and help move the needle forward on their progress.

Math Center Games For Every Learner

I’ve got the Mother of all bundles for you! Let this Math Centers Bundle take you through Number Sense centers and beyond for your whole year with these fun and engaging  hands on games.

Want an interactive digital option to help your students improve their number sense?


  • Number words
  • Counting
  • Number Order
  • Comparing

With this PDF games file  that can be used in lots of digital environments. 

Whether you are working as a whole group, or want students to have access to them on their individual devices, there are flexible options to serve your students.

No Prep Printable Intervention

Number sense intervention CAN be all fun and games. And with this Math Intervention Bundle, You have some great printable activities to use with students who need the extra practice. The simple printable files are flexible to use in class during small groups, morning work, homework, guided math and more.

Stay tuned for more resources, and join the Facebook Community for up-to-date information on new products, sales on my best resources, and collaboration with other teachers to help all students shine!

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