Number Sense in Kindergarten

Happy holidays!  I hope everyone is having a restful and enjoyable break!
I finally found a moment to sit down and write this blog post all about my favourite strand in math....number sense!

Number sense is probably the most important strand to teach in math, especially in kindergarten!  I like to ensure students have a good sense of number, not just identifying and counting, but manipulating numbers in order to compose and decompose, identify numbers without counting and more!

I'm going to show you a few of my favourite games to play to help learn numbers.  After all, learning through play is the one of the best ways children learn!  To play these games, you'll have to add math manipulatives (which you probably already have in your classroom).

***It is important to note that I teach the number sense strand a bit differently than I teach other math strands.  I don't spend a few weeks on it and then revisit the next term.  Rather, I take a week here and there (in between other math units) and focus on number sense.  Therefore, we play these games throughout the school year, introducing more difficult ones as the year goes on.****

This song is always a class hit so I made these monkey necklaces to go along with it, choosing students to be the 5 little monkeys and 'falling' off the bed as we sing.  This is a great song to use when explaining how we can count backwards and the number gets smaller.

I begin teaching about numbers by focusing on numbers to 5, then 10 and even beyond 10 for those kindergarten students who are ready.
I love the book "Five Busy Beavers" where the story unfolds and one beaver leaves.  We showed this by using magnets on a 5-frame and using 5 counters.

I also like to explain how we can count objects (1:l correspondence) so I set up games like "How many jumping jacks can you do in 1 minute?" and we all count each one.

Here's another great read, "Numbers" which shows real pictures of items in the world that have numbers!
We then go on our own "Number Hunt" around the classroom or school.

These number mats are great for students to use to show that many.  I set them up with small jewels but I've also printed them on transparency paper and left them out at the Light Table.

How many bears are hiding?
When we play this game, I set up 5 bears (bear counters) and a cup.  I have the students count the bears for me and then I have them close their eyes.  I hide bears under the cup (cave) and students open their eyes and guess how many bears are hiding. 
To make this game more challenging, I made the mat without the 5 circles you see at the bottom.

This is actually much more difficult than it looks - how many ways can you show 5 using 5 Unifix cubes?
I gave each student a set of 5 Unifix cubes and had them work together to show all the different ways that 5 can be represented.

I made large numeral cards and covered up most of the number.  Students had to guess what the number was by looking closely at what was exposed.

I always have loose parts lying around my classroom.  I made these number cards with dots on them that correspond to the numeral.  Students used the loose parts to show that many.

This game requires nothing but 10 dice and a cup!
The object of the game is to get all the dice the same (i.e. number 3).  Place all 10 dice in the cup, shake and spill, choose a number and collect all the dice that match!  Continue until all 10 dice are the same then call out "Tenzies!".
I have students play against each other.  I bought red, blue, green, and white dice at the Dollar Store and each player is a specific colour so it's easy if the dice get mixed up. 

We do a lot of work around 10-frames throughout the year.  To help students become more familiar with number placement, I have them listen to a number I call out and write the numeral on the correct spot on the 10-frame.

After I showed the students how to play this game, it became a class favourite and many of them would often ask to play during the open math block we have in the afternoon.
To play you need 2 players and 2 dice (1 each) and a dry erase marker (laminate game or place in sleeve).
At the same time, students roll their die and they see who rolled the larger number.  Place a tally mark if you rolled the larger number.  This game doesn't have a ending, students can determine when to stop, so the winner can change at any time, it's really luck of the roll!

We work on matching numerals to their name and I created this game where students choose 2 cards and see if they match.  I photocopied the words on a different colour so they know to choose one white and one blue card.  You can make it more difficult by flipping the cards over and using it as a matching game - if you don't get it correct you flip them back.

Here's another matching game - I created a variety of cards to 10 (10-frames, numeral, tally marks, etc.) and students must match it to the mat.  This is a great way to explain that there are many ways that a number appears!

Choose a cookie, count the chocolate chips and place it on the correct numeral.  This makes for a great table top centre.

Look at the 10-frame, stack a tower using cubes or Unifix cubes that many high.

Two students can play against each other.  They each roll their dice and place it on top of their 10-frame.  They show that amount on the 10-frame using cubes.  Who has more?  How many more?
Continue rolling and either adding or taking away cubes to make their new number.

Here's a classic book that focuses on the number 10.  With each numeral, a picture is made.  I gave each student 10 black dots and had them create their own pictures.
Can you spot all 10 black dots below?

I introduce number lines to students throughout the year and then we play games using them.  Here, for instance, students must identify the missing number.

For those students ready to move beyond 10, I start with numbers to 12 and use 2 dice.  I have them roll both dice and add the numbers, then cover it on the mat.

I also like to set up this activity for students ready to count beyond 10.  Choose a domino, add the dots and place it on the correct spot on the mat.
Can you fill the entire mat?

I learned this game back in Teacher's College.
Choose a card and place it on the mat, show that number using cubes on the 10-frame, choose another card and make that number by either adding or taking away cubes.  If you get the red dot you must clear the mat and start again!

This is another game to help students identify numbers in different ways.
Roll the die, say the number that appears in that space and keep the card (replacing it with another from the pile).
For instance, I rolled a 6, I say "2" and then place a new card in that spot.

We play this Number Bingo game in small groups and when students were comfortable enough playing, I left it out for them at the math centre. 
Roll both dice, cover up that number on your card.

There are always students each year that need a challenge so I create this Race to 100 game.
Roll 2 (or even 3!) dice, add them and move that many on the hundreds grid.  You can play alone or with a friend - be sure to use different coloured counters to mark your spot.

I made this 10-frame to send home with my students for continued practice but you can also use it in small groups!
Each student needs 1 set of 10 animals and a 10-frame.  Cut the animals out.
You can play in 2 ways:
1)  Place all the animals on the 10-frame and ask students to identify where the "pig" is (i.e. number 7) or which animal number 3 is (i.e. "dog")
2)  Ask students to set up 10-frame in a specific way, for example, "Place the duck 4th and the rooster 10th."

You can download the 10-frame animal game for FREE by clicking the picture below.

You can find all of these activities and so much more in my Number Sense in Kindergarten Pack in my TpT store.

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