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Easy ideas for developing number sense through play
I could hear my daughter counting in the other room, “…. eight, nine, ten, ‘weven…” and my heart burst. She was doing it! She was unlocking the counting code. I remember having that same feeling when my son started counting.
But I know a secret to numbers and kids.
A little piece to the learning puzzle that you’ve got to know.
There’s so much more to number sense than just counting or having “your numbers memorized”.
I’m sharing 3 activities today for developing number sense!
When you think about letters, you know they are the building blocks of reading. Each letter has a name, makes a sound (or two or three), and fits together to create words.
Let’s think about numbers in the same way!
When we are developing number sense in early childhood, it’s so easy to stick to the basics: counting and number recognition. Let’s move beyond the basics today and help our kids become fluent mathematicians.
It’s all about the number quantity.
Quantity is a big key to number sense and one that is easily over looked. Yes, my daughter knows the number 8. She can count to 8. But does she really understand what 8 means? That it represents a group of 8 objects?
Developing number sense through play is so simple!
We took our beloved Ladybug Number Match from Lakeshore and set them on a tray. This helps keep the learning space contained and well defined.
My daughter’s goal: count the dots on each ladybug and set them on the matching leaf.
This is our chance to work on one to one correspondence – touching and counting. This tactile learning is so great for her. While she can fluently count to 10, understanding quantity is challenging.
Seeing the dots on the ladybugs helps my daughter to see quantity. Suddenly, she’s shouting out “I see one dot! That goes with 1.”
Building number sense with games
This simple numbers game has my kids buzzing! Using our Lakeshore My First Counting Frame, we created an easy math game.
I grabbed a deck of cards and pulled out the face cards and aces (we don’t need them for this). Now we had only numbers 2-10 to work with,
I set the cards in front of the My First Counting Frame and talked about our goal “use the birds to show the number on the cards.” Remember, it’s all about learning what that numeral means.
This was great. My 27 month old and my 3.5 year old loved it. It was a sibling play together miracle.
Big brother was especially helpful with numbers greater than five, which are more difficult for little sister to count out. He’s a great little teacher.
They took turns pulling cards off the top and counting out the birds. They can really see the numbers now: 5 means 5 birds. The numeral matches the quantity of birds. This is huge.
Blasting off into number sense!
Now that my son (3.5) is grasping numbers more and more, these Lakeshore Number Rockets have been the best challenge for his developing number sense.
These Lakeshore Number Rockets are a game changer in his understanding that numbers can be shown/represented in different ways. He doesn’t say it quite that fancy, but he’s getting it.
We paired the Number Rockets down to numbers 1-10 (we will work on numbers 11-20 later). Together, we put the bases in numerical order and my son sorts the remaining pieces by color.
Then it was go time.
His task: build the number rockets, match the numerals to the amounts shown. What’s awesome here is that he can use the ten-frame side, the object side, or the tally marks side.
Whichever way he chooses, he’s learning so much about numbers. What they look like, how many ways a number can be created…he’s even starting to see patterns in the quantity of objects. Be still my heart!
Finding the best ways to learn through play
Developing number sense is an on-going process throughout childhood. It’s my preference to incorporate learning activities like this into our everyday play – to have fun with it.
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Looking to grab some toys for growing your child’s number sense? Use this 20% off coupon from Lakeshore Learning! To learn more about Lakeshore, find them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.
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