Kindergarten Number Activities
What is number sense?
Include lots of time for children to play with and explore sets of numbers when planning kindergarten number activities. Although children may be able to count to 5, they may not know what "5" means.
"Number sense" means that the child has an intuitive understanding of numbers. Some children enter kindergarten with an excellent number sense to the number 5. Another student's number sense is at a higher or lower level.
Students need to have many experiences playing with five objects to build up an intuitive understanding of the number 5.
What are number operations?
The term,"number operations", refers to what you can do with the numbers - add them, subtract them, divide them, etc.
Start with number sense...
As an adult, I can visualize 6 dots on a dice or imagine sets of six in groups to make 100. I know what combinations of numbers equal six.
Children have to "play" with 6 objects and participate in structured kindergarten number activities, like the image on the right, to be able to do this. Some adults who struggle with math were not given enough opportunities or time as children to explore math with objects.
Not all children who come to kindergarten counting to 5 or 10 or more have a good understanding of what the numbers mean. They are also unsure of how to sequence sets of numbers.
Don't get too eager to have your students filling in worksheets. Review the steps in "Teaching with manipulatives" and give the kids enough time to participate in kindergarten number activities with real things. Repeated building of sets of the same number benefits the students.
So how do we teach kindergarten number activities?
- Use math materials for all activities
- Encourage the students to talk about what they are doing
- Model excitement as you demonstrate the activities
- Make a big deal of their thinking - Wow, how did you do that? Tell me what you were thinking.
- Use your imagination to create activities- what do you have in the classroom?
Using mats defines each child's space. Even though you can have a mountain of pattern blocks or other materials in the middle of the carpet, some children will not relax and learn until they have their own pile. Don't fight it, give them a pile.
Demonstrate all games and kindergarten number activities slowly. Children are easily distracted and may not notice that you touch each item when you count. Model the behaviors you want the children to imitate and they soon will.