Math is one of my favorite areas to plan for in the preschool classroom. Sometimes teachers get so focused on the counting sequence that they forget about the other types of math activities that are just as, or even more, important! Number sense is just one area of math development that should be an important area of focus for preschoolers. Number sense for preschoolers is really a group of related math abilities that are key predictors of children’s math achievement. In essence, they are the skills that children need to work with numbers in a variety of ways. These skills include the ability to:

- understand quantities, such as knowing how many are in a given group of objects
- compare quantities of objects using terms such as more, less, equal, larger, and smaller
- recognize the relationships between individual items and groups of items (i.e., when counting a group of objects, when the child says “3” it means the whole group of three….not just that individual item that was named “3”)
- understand the symbols that we use to represent quantities (i.e., numerals)
- order a group of objects (1st, 2nd, 3rd or largest to smallest)
- add and subtract with concrete objects (i.e., having a group of three bears, adding one to it and understanding that you now have 4 bears)
- problem solve – such as figuring out how many paintbrushes are needed for the special activity based on the number of children that are seated at the table)

As you can see…these skills go far beyond just being able to recite the counting sequence! What are some specific activities that you can implement in your classroom to promote these skills?

In this sensory table activity, children have 12 coasters and 12 frogs. As they practice putting one frog on each “lily pad” they are practicing the skill of 1:1 correspondence.

Numerals are such an abstract concept for young children. While they may be able to recognize the numeral and name it, they also need to be able to start associated the quantity that the numeral represents with the numeral. Many activities that work with numerals offer no support for helping children understand this association. I like to add “quantity dots” to my numerals so that as children begin to match up the numeral to a quantity they can check their work to ensure that they are choosing the right numeral.

In this fun activity, children are matching the number of shapes on the turtles back to the numerals on the pond. The turtles have a clothes pin on the back so that they can be clipped to the correct pond. The dots on the numerals help children know if they are choosing the correct numeral.

This sensory table activity includes a variety of marbles and boats. Children attempt to predict how many marbles it will take to “sink the boat”. (Not intended for children under age 3).

In this math manipulative, children roll the die and then take the corresponding number of ice cream sundaes to put on their tray. Game play continues until both children have filled their trays. Sometimes, children continue rolling the die to remove the ice cream cones from their tray and return them to the basket.

In this game, children choose a card with dots from the deck and then take the appropriate number of bears to match the card. They can even put the bears right on top of the dots if they are still in the beginning stages of quantification.

In this short path game, children roll the die and move their game piece to the town. Since this game is designed for younger children, we’ve given each child his own game board to eliminate confusion and conflict.

For children who are ready for a little more, this long path game gives them a longer path and a shared board. The “bonus spaces” throughout the game allow children to customize the rules of the game.

I also love these activities on using 10 frames and 5 frames from Pre-kpages.com: https://www.pre-kpages.com/developing-number-sense-in-preschool/

What types of math activities do you plan to encourage number sense?