Children who have strong number sense are more confident and fluent problem solvers. They know how to make numbers work for them and aren’t as intimidated by math when they begin formal schooling.
As I’ve shared before, number sense is important to nurture in children from the beginning of their lives. Once a child has learned to count, you can start to incorporate routines and activities to encourage number sense.
Three easy & fun ways to develop number sense in the youngest kiddos:
1) Talk Math: This is so critical! Modeling how to think about numbers and problems is crucial to developing number sense in young minds. Encourage children to talk to you about what they think – there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way. Questions like: “Why do you think that? How do you know?” will encourage children to self-correct mistakes. Talking math will also allow children to practice communicating thoughts without assuming a mistake was made.
2) Play with Numbers: Play with concrete objects that can be counted, and identify what combinations you can come up with! Group the objects together into different quantities to illustrate the fluidity of numbers. For example: 2+3 = 5 and 1+4 = 5. Show how groups can be rearranged yet still produce the same answer.
3) Pattern Fun: There are patterns everywhere – point them out and talk about them! Is there a pattern in the tile floor? Or the necklace you are wearing? Legos and blocks are also great for making patterns of all kinds and asking children, “What comes next?” Base patterns on shapes, colors, numbers – anything! See if children can figure out the pattern. Here are some pattern making activities to explore.