Best Ways to Develop Math Number Sense-Fun Ideas

Have your students catch Number Sense!!

Number sense, numeration, and numbers need to be caught (not taught), explored, and investigated. It can be done with easy, fun activities.

Search the Room, Oh Yeah!

One of my favorite is Search the Room. I hide small cards around the room. The students walk around with a recording sheet to find matches. The students must count the dots, color the match, and then search for a new match. It is amazing to see the students that need to count the same number of dots over and over ( I can also quickly assess one to one counting)...then the ones that begin to add independently.
Then I make it fun by changing the solid blue squares into apples, pumpkins, turkeys, and presents depending on the month. The most important part is that the students get the chance to practice and catch number sense. It takes a lot of time and practice.

Recording sheet that focuses on subtizing.

Walk Down the Number Path

Click on picture for free copy.
Another fun activity is Number Path;think of a concrete representation of a number line. A number path should be use for K-2 learners instead of a number line because it shows an image instead of a space, which can be difficult for concrete learners.

Here a student is practicing counting while pointing to the number

I print the picture on card stock and cut in into groups of 5 to hang on my white board. I also make a copy for the students to cut into groups of 5 and take home to practice counting. By keeping the 5's connected, subitizing and work with 5's and 10's becomes concrete.

Students cutting apart number chart for home practice.

Adding to 5.
  I make the 1-5 path bigger with a document camera and the students used the number path to "show" how to solve addition and subtraction word problems. 
Number in order matching.

 I, also, cut apart a second sample for ordering practice. Match the individual number to the ordered set. The groups of 5 make this activity much easier than separate numbers.

Get Things Rolling!

 Rolling Dice games makes subitizing,  number id, and counting fun. We roll a dice, throw a bean bag to identify the number rolled, and hop to the number. Then turn and count backwards to hop back to 0. So many skills covered. To keep all the students involved, we record the number rolled and create a graph worksheet. Once everyone has a turn, we discuss the number that was rolled more and the number that was rolled less.  Counting again.
Click pict, to see Apple theme dice.

Sometimes we just roll a dice and fill in the graph! A great way to change it up is to use different colored dice. Keep the sheet the same! Students think it is new and fun, but they actually can do it themselves. This is one that is requested again and again by the students,

Fun Resources

So many fun things to do with numbers! Here are the resource I use. Click on the pictures to find the resources.

Here are some great books to develop Number Sense.
1,2,3 Peas by Keith Baker
Chicka Chicka 1,2,3 by Bill Martin Jr.
Splash! by Ann Jonas (counting)
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (counting)
How Do Dinosaurs Count to 10? by Jane Yolen
Number Everywhere by Elliot Kaufman
10 Black Dots by Donald Crews
How Many Bugs in a Box? by David Carter
How Many Snails? by Paul Giganti, Jr.
Ten Sly Piranhas by William Wise
None the Number by Oliver Jeffers
Zero the Hero by Joan Holub
More or Less by Stuart Murphy
Tally O’Mally by Stuart Murphy


  1. I love all the interactive, hands on activities for the kiddos.

  2. Such fun activities that get students up and moving! Great ideas!!

  3. You got a lot of very nice ideas. I can't wait to try too. Thanks for sharing.