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Starting the Year With Number Sense!

I've been in kind of an unusual place this year for math instruction and I'm liking it!

My district is in the process of lining up teachers to pilot some new math programs that are more aligned with the Common Core State Standards than our present math program.

This means we've had a few weeks to fill before our training to pilot the new programs.

We've been instructed to go through the first unit of the old program in the meantime.  That didn't take me long, so I've found some delightful ways to make use of this extra time in Math!

I recently read this book on Number Sense Routines, and I was quite anxious to start the year with a lots of opportunities to build Number Sense in my students.  Here are some of the things I've done:

  1. I've let the children get to know this Number Grid.  We've had lots of practice using it to skip count, add, subtract, and generally get to know numbers.  The colors help the children keep track of what row they're on.
  2. We've used Cuisenaire Rods to make addition facts and number families.  (See THIS blog post for more information on the Cuisenaire Rods!)
  3. We've used the base ten blocks to write numbers in expanded notation.  We've also used them to help us add larger numbers.
  4. We've reviewed first grade math standards with games like THIS game I designed based on the first grade CCSS.  (They loved it!)
  5. We've done calendar math to develop number sense and have fun with the day's numbers.  
  6. We've told math stories and made plus signs with our arms if the story told about sets being joined together.  We made minus signs with our arms if the stories told about sets being taken apart. 
  7. We've played lots of games to practice and review those skills they learned in first grade and need to strengthen such as telling time, counting money, and addition and subtraction.
I wish every year started with time at the beginning of the year to review and build good strategies and number sense.  These kids are going to have the best math year ever!

What would you teach if you had time in math?


  1. Thanks for this Sally. I love that it goes past 100! We had something similar for Everyday Math but the kids colored it themselves and it only went to 110:)

    Surfin' Through Second

    1. Corinna,

      Someone once told me that the kids had the hardest transition with the "teens", so I've always made sure I included those. Thanks!


  2. This is great! Thanks for sharing. I really enjoyed Jessica's book.

    1. Ms. Pretzel,

      Thanks so much! I enjoyed it too!


  3. Great book! Will you be disclosing any information with regards to piloting the math series? It would be great to hear what people think of different series. We have a tool that we are using that gives an "objective" view of the different series and we are informally trying some lessons (as opposed to a traditional pilot). It would be interesting to hear others' opinions of some of the programs that are out there. (I do understand if you/others don't feel comfortable sharing these opinions.)

  4. Thank you so much for posting these wonderful ideas. Ive made number grid for students to fill in but now I'm going to have them color them in, this way it will be so much easier to ask them questions about the grid. Thanks again.


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