What is it?
Can you picture 10 pencils in your mind? How about 50 pencils? About how much water will fill one cup? Which is more: 43 marbles or 34 marbles?
We have a sort of intuition about numbers that we develop over time. This is called number sense. The more we work with objects–hold them, count them, manipulate them–the better idea we have of quantities. When we have measured a teaspoon of vanilla in 5 or 6 batches of cookies, we get a good idea of about how much a teaspoon is.
Number sense also has to do with an understanding of the written numbers themselves. Young children have to learn that the number “4” refers to a certain quantity of objects. Later, they learn the difference between numbers like 18 and 81, and get a sense of these quantities in their heads.
The best way to develop good number sense is to give kids lots of hands-on opportunities to play with quantities and numbers. Number sense is woven into the other math areas, and can’t be learned strictly on its own.
However, there are certain skills that are considered to be an important part of number sense, which can be learned and practiced individually.
How can I practice this at home?
- Naming Numbers and counting
Kids will learn the pattern of counting numbers (28, 29, 30 is like 88, 89, 90). They learn how numbers relate to each other (50 is ten more than 40). They also learn the names of numbers, and begin to have a sense of how many objects each number refers to.
- Comparing Numbers
Which number is greater: 181 or 179? Also known as “greater than, less than”, kids need to understand how numbers compare to each other, know what the words “greater than”, “less than” and “equal” mean, and to understand and use the symbols <, > and =.
- Odd and Even Numbers
Even numbers of objects can all be paired up; each number has a “friend”. Odd numbers, when put in pairs, have one left without a friend. Until kids have memorized patterns for which numbers are odd and which are even, they will need to physically count them to see if they can be paired up.
- Sequencing/ordering Numbers
If given the number 23, your child should be able to tell the next numbers that come in the sequence: 24, 25. Kids should also be able to count backwards from a number: 90, 89, 88. Second graders should be able to manipulate numbers up to 1,000 in this way.
- Rounding Numbers
First and second graders will learn to round 2-digit numbers to the nearest tens place using a number line or another visual. They will learn to tell which number in the tens place is closest to their number, and round to that number.
Would you like some more information or practical ideas on Number Sense? Then please attend our:
Number Sense Workshop
When: Thursday, November 12
Where: Elementary Staff room
Karibuni to all KG, Grade 1 and Grade 2 parents!