Building Number Sense in the Classroom

Saturday, February 1, 2020


Number sense is such an important skill for our students to have. This can be something that we can forget to incorporate into our lessons, but it’s something that should not be overlooked. There are many ways you can easily incorporate this into your math routine plus, building number sense and teaching number relationships does not have to take up a ton of time.

I want to share some of my number sense routines and activities that I have used over the years that have been so effective in building number sense with my students.

Number Talks

What is a number talk?

A number talk is a short discussion between teacher and students about how to solve a given math problem.

How does it work?

At the beginning of your math block, you present each problem and give your students wait time. Students mentally figure out the answer (no paper or pencil) and give a thumbs up to show that they have at least one solution. (Students can put additional fingers up if they have more than one way to solve the problem. For example, two fingers up means I have two ways to solve the problem). After sufficient wait time, students can share their thinking as the teacher records their responses. During this time, the teacher can ask questions like: "How did you get your answer?" and/or "Why did you use that strategy?" You will want to include those incorrect responses in your number talks as well.

Why is it effective in building number sense?

Students are given an opportunity to grapple and reason with numbers and problems independently. Number talks encourages your students to discuss how they came up with their answers. When students speak about their process and answers, they can uncover mistakes, self-correct and develop an understanding of different strategies for solving problems.

I love using digital/paperless number talks in my classroom. Number Talks are all about the process of mental math computation and sharing strategies, so the digital/paperless format was perfection. All I have to do is display on my board and the number talk is ready! I have these resources available for easy use in my TpT store and they are organized by grade level. Click on your grade level to get started with digital number talks today!

                   

Math Journals

What is a math journal?

A math journal is a composition notebook where students are given math prompts to glue and solve in their journal.

How do math journals work?

At the beginning of math workshop, I pass out a math journal prompt to each student to glue into their math journals. After reading the prompt/problem together a couple of times as a whole class, the students work independently for about 5 minutes to solve the problem. Then, you can share as a class how you solved the problem. Encourage different strategies to be shared.

Why is it effective in building number sense?

Math journals allow students to stretch their thinking! Math journals give students opportunities to share and talk about how they solved a problem. It is during this time that students are able to justify their reasoning while also evaluating strategies from their classmates.
 

It's never too late to start incorporating math journals into your classroom today. These math journals are a great resource for your classroom, just print and you're on your way! 

Number Sense Games

Incorporating games into your math routine is a great way for students to work on building their number sense.

These place value games keep the content engaging for your students and can be easily incorporated into independent center time. It's a great way for students to explore number relationships through number sense games!


No matter what approach you take to building number sense with your students, the most important thing you can do is to help students see math as fun.

Check out some of my favorite manipulatives to use when teaching number sense:
Teacher Created Resources Foam Base Ten Set 

Base Ten Place Value Frame


 Mini Rekenreks


Unifix Cubes

Ten Frame Dice

Magnetic Ten Frame Set

120 Chart Mat


Dry Erase 100 Charts

Place Value Disks


Dry Erase Number Lines

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