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5 Proven Activities For Teaching Number Sense {Number of the Day}

Our tried & tested number of the day activities for Teaching Number Sense will make your students confident, fearless and flexible with numbers. Use them in your math class everyday!


Number Of the Day Activities For Teaching Number Sense

What is Number Sense?

Teaching Number Sense is a key part any maths program.  Researchers have found that student achievement levels in numeracy are directly linked to their  number sense.

The term Number Sense refers to a student’s “fluidity and flexibility with numbers,” (Gersten & Chard, 2001).


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Number Sense Research

Research shows that number sense is the foundation of a range of mathematical skills. Findings stress the importance of daily number sense activities to help students develop mathematically in:

  • mental calculation (Hope & Sherrill, 1987; Trafton, 1992);
  • computational estimation (for example; Bobis, 1991; Case & Sowder, 1990);
  • judging the relative magnitude of numbers (Sowder, 1988);
  • recognising part-whole relationships and place value concepts (Fischer, 1990; Ross, 1989) and;
  • problem solving (Cobb et.al., 1991).

Dr. Jo Boaler describes the impact of number sense on learners :

After extensive study of the different strategies the students used the researchers concluded that the difference between high and low achieving students was not that the low achieving students knew less mathematics, but that they were interacting with mathematics differently. Instead of approaching numbers with flexibility and using ‘number sense’ they seemed to cling to formal procedures they had learned, using them very precisely, not abandoning them even when it made sense to do so. The low achievers did not know less but they did not use numbers flexibly – probably because they had been set on the wrong path, from an early age, of trying to memorize methods and number facts instead of interacting with numbers flexiblyJo Boaler

The National Council of Teachers in 1989 identified the following five components that characterise number sense:

  • Number meaning
  • Number relationships
  • Magnitude of Numbers
  • Operations involving numbers and referents for number
  • Referents for numbers and quantities

This research highlights that Number sense is an important part of teaching numeracy and needs to be part of daily math lessons.

Math Activities To Build Number Sense

Building Number Sense

Building Number sense is not something that can be done quickly, but it can be taught without too much stress. Simply include number sense activities and games every day as part of your math lessons.

Planning number sense should include explicit teaching, investigation and practice. Planning using the gradual release model “I do, We Do , You Do’ model is the perfect way to get excellent results for kids.

building number sense

The most effective math programs don’t just include one type of activity. Kids need a range of activities that focus on building depth. They need activities that give them opportunities to:

  • reason flexibly about numbers
  • spot unreasonable answers
  • understand how numbers can be taken apart or partitioned, and put together in different ways
  • see connections
  • figure things out mentally

These skills are important because they help students to lay the foundation for mental arithmetic as well as more advanced mathematical skills.

How do you teach number sense?

A large body of research has shown that number sense develops gradually, over time, as a result of exploration of numbers, visualising numbers in a variety of contexts, and relating to numbers in different ways.

Marilyn Burns suggests the following key, research-based teaching strategies to build numbers sense:

  • Model different methods for computing
  • Ask students regularly to calculate mentally
  • Have class discussions about strategies for computing
  • Make estimation an integral part of computing
  • Question students about how they reason numerically
  • Pose numerical problems that have more than one possible answer


Just as our understanding of phonemic awareness has revolutionized the teaching of beginning reading, the influence of number sense on early math development and more complex mathematical thinking carries implications for instruction.Gersten & Chard

Activities To Develop Number Sense

If you are wondering how to improve number sense  it can be done very simply with a  “Today’s Number” or “Number of The Day ” resource.

These are specifically created activities to improve number sense and have been specially created to provide opportunities for your students to build flexibility and fluency with numbers.



The number sense resources are open-ended so that you can quickly adapt them to meet individual student needs or they can be differentiated for guided math lessons and small group work.

They are perfect for warm-ups, math centers and early finishers.

Number of The Day Resources

Our 5 Number of the Day Activities pack includes 5 different activities that:

  • promotes number sense,
  • extends mathematical language and vocabulary
  • builds fluency & flexibility with numbers

This activity pack includes:

  1. Number of The Day – 5 Spaces for 8 activities everyday of the School Week
  2. Number of The Day Think board
  3. Today’s Number – 21 Tasks & Thinkboard
  4. Wanted Number Poster
  5. Frayer Model Thinkboard – Definition, Characteristics, Examples, Non-Examples

Number of the day activities

Number of the Day

This think board includes a  a weekly template for your students to practice flexibility with numbers every day. Tasks include write the selected number:

  • In digits
  • Word form
  • Expanded form
  • draw Base 10 representation
  • the number before/after
  • 10 more/ 10 less

Laminate & reuse this template for the whole Year!

Number of The Day Activities To Build Number Sense

Number of the Day Think Board

This number sense resource is a great template for group work. There are four sections on this template for a group to work together to complete. Includes:

  • In digits
  • Word form
  • Expanded form
  • Draw Base 10 representation
  • The number before/after
  • 10 more/ 10 less

Build Number Sense - Think board




Today’s Number

This activity can be played like a bingo game or done independently. It includes 21 number sense tasks for students to complete.

Todays number activities for kids


Wanted Number Poster

The ‘wanted’ poster is an open-ended activity that lets students show their knowledge of the relationships between numbers. It can be easily differentiated for any sized whole or decimal number.

Building Number Sense- Wanted Poster

Frayer Think Board

The Frayer Board Think board Template is a graphic organiser, designed by Dorothy Frayer and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin in 2001.

This resource  allows your kids to show how deeply they understand a number. They are excellent for highlighting what they don’t know too.

Read more behind them on our Frayer Model Think Board post.


Number Sense Resources - Frayer Think Board



Products By A Plus Teaching Resources

Number Think Board Download
Number of the day Activities Pack
Mental maths Games
Number mazes Games Pack
Number Recognition Bundle
Think Board BLM



Problem Solving Strategies

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Number Sort Think Boards

Number Recognition Activities 0-10 Using a Number Think Board & Concept Attainment



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By A+ Team

The A Plus Teacher has been a Primary School Numeracy Curriculum Leader and Coach for 16 years and now advisors A Plus Teaching Resources about Teaching Numeracy The A+ Team is Passionate About helping educators to save time so that they can concentrate on the most important job in the world... Teaching! The Team Creates Time Saving, Tried & Tested, Hands-on, Teaching Resources, Ideas, Organisers, Checklists, Printables, Posters, & Games! Visit the Website for Some FREE Teacher Worksheets & ideas! & Join our FACEBOOK Community


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