# number sense

## Transportation Play #13: Transportation Counting Activity

Make the day count with this simple transportation counting activity that also helps to develop number sense. These are two early math skills for kids.

In urban areas, there are lots of red, yellow, and green traffic lights. You can make a traffic light counting board with a piece of paper or cardboard. Down the left side, print the numbers from 1 to 5 or for kids that are keen about numbers from 0 to 10. Across the rows, draw the appropriate number of circles for each number. Zero has no circles, one has 1 circle, etc.

To make the traffic lights, for kids beyond the everything-in-the-mouth stage, you can use red, yellow, and green buttons. Or you can use something that kids can eat, such as dried cranberries for the red and mini-Ritz crackers for the yellow. Green is a little trickier, maybe frozen green peas? We looked through our button supplies and found a dishful.

Big Sister counted and filled the circles, going in a line from left to right. Little Sister filled in the circles at the bottom corner. While Big Sister could tell the numbers when she looked at them, Little Sister had to count down from zero until she got to the name.
Counting is much more than just knowing the name of the numbers and how to say them in order. Counting means understanding the relationship between numbers and objects. Each number going up means one more object.

Number sense is an awareness of how many items for each number. For instance, two has one thing and another thing. That’s all. Two isn’t lots, it’s a small number. For kids, 10 is really lots. Some kids might notice how the number of circles in this transportation counting activity and board get bigger like stairs.

As with so many other skills, kids develop accurate counting and number sense from play experiences and everyday opportunities. Do kids need to know how to count to 10 before kindergarten? What they need is to have some familiarity with numbers so numbers do not feel strange and bewildering. This happens by such ordinary activities as counting, talking about numbers, noticing them in the neighborhood, and using them in play activities. What do you do to make your day count?

In the following article, by blogger Jenni B of DearMum, there are more ideas for early math fun.

## How to Incorporate Math throughout the Day with Your Toddler

If you asked any kid, no matter how old, what their least favorite subject in school is, the answer is most likely going to be mathematics.

Frankly, who can blame them? Even as adults, many of us still hate having to do anything math related, which is unfortunate since mathematics is one of the most important subjects that can shape our future. Study after study, researchers have shown that kindergarteners with elementary level math skills demonstrated better academic performance than the children that excelled in other areas.

While there are a myriad of mathematical art projects that combine creativity with systemic learning at elementary levels, the skills cultivated early on will set your children up for a future academic career. This doesn’t necessarily mean hiring a math tutor before they’re old enough for school, as there are plenty of ways to teach math throughout the day, whether you’re out shopping or simply having some playtime with the kids, without making it appear as a structured math lesson.

At the grocery store
Working with prices may be too advanced for children at a very young age, but you can improve their skills in counting numbers by helping you pick out vegetables, eggs, and any other items that can be selected in multiples. Have your kids say the numbers out loud as they pick out the food. You may even ask them to add or subtract items to get a certain total.

During playtime
Many have forgotten the importance of playtime as parents fill their kids days with sports, piano lessons and dance classes. Although there is no defined structure for playtime, this is when your kid develops a foundation for all skills learned in later years. There are loads of mathematical concepts to learn with toys and games. Prime examples include puzzles that develop spatial skills, play money that improves counting skills, and building blocks that introduce geometry skills. Simple number board games designed like Snakes and Ladders are also helpful for preschoolers, as the Phi Delta Kappan Common Core explains, “It provides multiple cues to both order of numbers and numbers’ magnitudes or how big and small numbers are in relation to one another.”

In the kitchen
An effortless way to build early math skills in our young ones, having your kids in the kitchen with you will help them understand basic math and science concepts. The main thing you as the adult need to keep in mind is using kid-friendly recipes, ones with uncomplicated measurements and ideally can be accomplished on their own (with parental supervision, of course). As they grow older, you can also teach them about time and temperature.

Author Bio: DearMum/Jenni B
DearMum is an auntie of two preschoolers that love to bake cookies with her and go on grocery trips with her. With all the time she spends with her children, she tries to incorporate learning with all the kid’s activities. Watch out for her own blog soon!

## Bubble Activity #16: Counting Bubbles Math Fun

With Big Sister going to school, Little Sister has been showing more interest in paper and pencil activities. She had fun counting bubbles with this simple activity.

Counting bubbles outside is almost impossible. Sometimes, instead of one single bubble floating away gently, several really small ones appear and disappear before they can be counted. But even if the counting isn’t accurate, kids can practice saying the numbers.

For small children, counting starts by saying the numbers. They need lots of opportunities to count so they develop the understanding that one number refers to one thing. This is part of number sense.

Using an idea from Anna’s blog on fish bubble counting mats, another teacher-mom, we made our own. I cut out a fish from a cereal box and traced around it on card stock, drawing some circles for bubbles. Little Sister put one flat glass marble on each circle. Together, we said the numbers.

The digit is included underneath the bubbles, but it doesn’t have to be. As long as kids are past putting items in their mouth, younger children could have just one big page and put bubbles on it for some one-to-one matching (one-to-one correspondence). Older kids may like to draw their own sea creatures and bubble circles.

Another time we do this, I’ll draw the bubbles in standard patterns, such as 4 corners for the number 4, and 2 lines of 3 bubbles for the number 6. The ability to look at a group of objects and immediately tell how many is called subitize. For example, 5 is really fast to know as soon as we see 4 corners with 1 in the middle. Dominoes, dice, and decks of cards use these patterns and they are a sort of short cut to counting. It’s also a form of visualizing, or making images in the mind. Quite likely, you do this all the time, you just didn’t know there was a word for it. Neither does spell-check!

Whatever the words, what’s most important is that kids have opportunities to play with numbers. To make this sensory, you might want to use a bowl or container of water and let kids count the marble bubbles. *Just a caution, the clear glass is really hard to see in the clear water when it comes time to pour the water in the sink! Even one in the drain is too many.* Is this counting bubbles a play-of-the-day your child might like?

## Dinovember: Counting Dinosaurs and Number Sense

Number sense develops as children play with and experience numbers. Counting dinosaurs is an appealing and fun activity for young children.

Dollar stores often have inexpensive bags with an assortment of dinosaurs. These can be used for counting and other fun. Kids just learning to count may not have all the names for the numbers and they may not be able to say them in the right order, but counting accurately develops from countless practice doing it over and over.

Not only are kids learning to count, they are figuring out how many items go with each number. To develop the concept of ‘twoness’, the brain needs to see, hear, and feel how many is two many, many times. As kids hear us and themselves counting two, see two objects and feel two, the brain makes the connections and pathways. This is part of number sense.

As kids are counting, we can occasionally ask them to show us how many is 3 dinosaurs and other numbers too. We can make comments like, “Oh look, 4 dinosaurs is more than 2. I can see 4 dinosaurs here and only 2 over there. ” We can listen to them count and when they stop, add one more and say the number. It’s obvious to us, but it takes practice to understand that counting the next number means adding one more. Of course, older kids will be able to count much higher and more accurately than younger ones.

Mathematician William Paul Thurston is often quoted as saying, “Mathematics is not about numbers, equations, computations, or algorithms, it’s about understanding.” Understanding will grow as children have opportunities to play with numbers.

Speaking of numbers:

1. Do you know what is a T. Rex’s favorite number?
2. It’s eight (ate.)

How many dinosaurs can come out and play at your house or center?

## Numbers, Numbers, Numbers: Number Sense for Kids

Numbers, numbers, and more numbers all help to develop number sense for kids. Seems as if our lives are lived, not by the book, but by the numbers. We rush around looking at the time on the clock, or the date on the calendar. In North America, the third weekend in May has particular significance. … Continue reading Numbers, Numbers, Numbers: Number Sense for Kids

## Math Fun: Songs for Counting

Did you know that singing about numbers is a powerful math activity for young children? There are many wonderful songs for counting and numbers. You can sing them with your child anywhere, anytime, in any language. Songs for counting are easy to sing and repetitive. Some suggestions are: 5 Little Monkeys Jumping On The Bed, … Continue reading Math Fun: Songs for Counting

## Learn with Foam Numbers and Fridge Magnets

Learning activities with foam numbers and fridge magnets can easily be part of your child’s play. These are more than fun, plus  are inexpensive toys. They are tools to help your child develop math confidence instead of math anxiety. (Of course, because they are small, these are not good for kids who chew on toys … Continue reading Learn with Foam Numbers and Fridge Magnets

## Math Fun: Counting Activities for Kids and Counts

Including lots of counting activities for kids helps them feel comfortable with math. We all want kids to have math confidence instead of math anxiety. (We also want that for grownups.) What can parents and caregivers do? We can be like Count von Count and have fun with counting. Here are 10 ordinary, everyday counting … Continue reading Math Fun: Counting Activities for Kids and Counts

## Number Fun: May the 4th Be With You

Brought to You by the Number 4 May the 4th be with you. The fun with the date is because of the play on words and play on numbers. So today’s play-of-the-day is some number fun. In particular, the number 4. Four is a gr8t number. There are lots of toys like cars and trucks … Continue reading Number Fun: May the 4th Be With You

## Dinovember Math Fun: 1 Little, 2 Little, 3 Little Dinosaurs

Dinosaurs are great for all kinds of math activities in Dinovember and anytime of the year. Dinosaurs know lots about numbers, think of how long ago they lived! Have you heard of Dinovember? It started with parents Refe and Susan Tuma who wanted to keep the magic of childhood alive for their kids with a … Continue reading Dinovember Math Fun: 1 Little, 2 Little, 3 Little Dinosaurs

## Soccer Can Help Kids Learn Basic Math Concepts

Have you been watching any World Cup Soccer? Soccer games use some basic math concepts–most important is the score–and can help kids as they learn and develop their number sense. It is easy for kids to understand that each time a ball goes in the net that it is counted. As children sort out that … Continue reading Soccer Can Help Kids Learn Basic Math Concepts