Number sense is the single best indicator of students’ success in math. As adults who are successful with mathematics, we have memorized steps and methods that work best for us. We have facts memorized. We use our number sense to do mental math quite frequently. We struggle to see the point with the crazy and convoluted steps students are asked to do because we no longer have to think through problems the way students do. Many adults also have a negative view of math due to a negative math experience in school. This is due, in large part, to instruction focused on memorization and linear steps versus building number sense and deep understanding. Building number sense is critical in the early years and lays the foundation for successful math instruction throughout school. Here’s a look at some of my favorite Number Sense activities, resources, and blog posts.
“If you are a parent of a child in the K-12 system, there is today just one thing you should ensure your offspring has mastered in the math class by the time they graduate: number sense.”
9 Activities and resources for building place value skills and number sense in 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grades.
Hundreds Chart Activities
Working with a hundreds chart gives students opportunities to connect numbers with other numbers. It helps refine the concept of tens and hundreds. They help students see how numbers connect with one another. Whether you’re teaching 1st grade and working from 0-100, or teaching a later grade and working with larger numbers, the hundreds chart is a valuable tool.
Hundreds Chart Puzzles
One of my favorite ways to work with the hundreds chart as a 1st grade teacher is through hundreds chart puzzles. Basically, you cut hundreds charts apart into several pieces and students work to put them back together. To prepare them is pretty simple: just print onto cardstock and cut. Of course you can laminate as well, but with the smaller pieces, I didn’t want to have to cut them twice. I made several versions at a time. Each color of cardstock had the same amount of pieces in the puzzle. As my students got stronger with the puzzles, they would work with puzzles with more varied cuts and with more pieces. This also allowed me to differentiate throughout the year by assigning different groups of students different colored puzzles.
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I also created Digital Hundreds Chart Puzzles perfect for practice on tablets. 20 different puzzles are included, with 5 versions available for each piece amount. They are built into Google Slides and are ready to assign. This saves you the work of cutting out each of the puzzle pieces yourself but gives students that valuable practice.
Missing Number Hundreds Chart
In addition to putting together hundreds chart puzzles, I also have my students work on Missing Number Hundreds Charts. Basically, they’re partially filled in hundreds charts that students finish completing. The value comes in focusing on specific rows and columns. Instead of asking students to independently complete all of them, guide them through the work. Have students complete one column at a time. Have them write the number that is 10 more than the given number and then continue. Have students work from the bottom to the top. By guiding their work, students are focused on different patterns in numbers.
I have a few different missing number hundreds charts available for free. These 3 featured below all work with numbers from 0-100. You can click on any of the covers to head to TpT to download them.
I also have a missing number hundreds charts that I use with larger numbers. These help reinforce number concepts with my students that struggle to understand place value in later grades. There are 30+ pages included: 10 pages working on each hundred from 100-1,000; 10 pages working on each hundreds from 1,000-2,000; 10 pages working from 2,000 – 10,000; and a free template you can use to work with any numbers you would like, or to have students create their own.
Place Value Activities
One way to build number sense is through solidifying understanding of place value. By understanding each digit and place in numbers, students are able to navigate numbers in various ways. These place value activities work on a variety of skills for different grade levels.
Digital Place Value Centers
These Digital Place Value Centers give students opportunities to work with 2-digit and 3-digit numbers- making this perfect for 1st and 2nd grades. With the built-in dice, students roll to build a number and then practice a variety of place value skills. It practices comparing and ordering numbers; standard, expanded, and word form; building with base ten blocks; even and odd numbers; and 10 more and 10 less.
Digital Base Ten Blocks Activities
One way to work on place value is with base 10 blocks. These digital base ten block activities have students identifying numbers represented in base ten form, and building numbers with base ten blocks. See It, Build It and Count it, Type It is available in 2-digit, 3-digit, and 4-digit versions. This is a great resource if you don’t have actual base ten manipulatives in your classroom. I assign one as a center for my students to work on during the week. You can take a closer look at each of my Digital Base Ten Blocks Activities in my TpT shop.