Number Sense Teaching Resources
Browse printable worksheets, hands-on math center activities and more teaching resources designed to teach number sense in the elementary classroom.
Developing number sense is an important building block for elementary math students and unlocks a deeper understanding of numbers and their relationships. These curriculum-aligned resources were created by teachers with teachers — and students — in mind to help build those skills in ways that engage and excite students about numbers!
Want to learn more about number sense? Read on for a primer from our teacher team, including a definition of number sense, how to assess this important math skill and more!
What Is Number Sense?
In the most basic sense (no pun intended), number sense refers to a student's intuitive understanding of numbers and their relationships. It includes the ability to estimate and compare quantities, understand numerical patterns and relationships and make reasonable judgments about the accuracy of calculations.
When students show an understanding of numbers, their size, relationships, and how they are affected by the four mathematical operations, what they're really showing is their number sense.
In an educational setting, building number sense is closely related to other foundational skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking and logical reasoning. As our students get older, it will become a crucial skill for daily life they will use to manage finances, calculate time and make decisions based on numerical information.
Teach Starter Teacher Tip: Although the names may seem interchangeable, it's worth noting that number sense is not the same as mathematical fluency or memorization of algorithms, but rather a deep understanding of the underlying concepts and relationships between numbers.
When Does Number Sense Develop?
There is no one grade level when we're teaching students number sense — instead, it's something that continues to develop and become more sophisticated as students progress through elementary school.
Research suggests that babies as young as 6 months old can distinguish between small and large numbers of objects, and by preschool, students are already working on number sense as they begin to learn counting and one-to-one correspondence. At this level, they're also beginning to develop an understanding of quantity and relative size — both key to overall number sense.
Number sense will continue to grow in elementary school as students become more adept at recognizing and using numbers to solve problems, and it continues into high school and — for many students — into college.
Assessing Number Sense
When we assess students for their number sense skills, there are certain mathematical concepts that they should have under their belts. These include:
- Ability to Recognize Missing Numbers in a Pattern —When kids can fill in missing numbers in a sequence, they're showing that they can make connections between numbers and develop an understanding of the relationships between them.
- Ability to Use Mental Math — Students with number sense can use mental math to solve problems involving the four basic operations.
- Ability to Engage in Systematic Counting — Children who can count systematically can more easily understand the relationships between numbers, including number magnitude, patterns, and sequences.
- Ability to Subitize Numbers — Students can use visual clustering skills to instantly recognize how many objects are in a group without physically counting them.
- Ability to Relate Numbers to Real-World Problems —For example, a student may understand that "3" means "three objects" or "three days" or "three dollars."
- Ability to Compose and Decompose Numbers — Students use number sense when they break down numbers and put them back together. For example, a student who can break down the number 10 into 8 and 2, then add the two back together to again make 10, is using number sense.
Roll, Count, and Cover
Practice one-to-one correspondence with this set of 4 animal templates.
Numbers to 30 - Tens Frames - Printable
Use a printable ten frame when working on counting, addition and subtraction, odd and even numbers, or place value.
Color by Number - Numbers 10–20
A color by number activity for students to practice recognizing teen numbers.
100 Grid Color by Number - 100th Day of School Activities
Follow the color-coded number guides to fill in the hundreds chart square and reveal 3 special 100th Day of School mystery pictures.
Kindergarten Number Worksheets
Use this set of worksheets when students are practicing connecting numbers to words and quantities.
Spring "Numberpillars" - Kindergarten Math Center
Match numbers 1-10 with their various visual representations to build a fun mathematical caterpillar!
Ten Frame - Printable Templates
Print a set of 10 blank ten frames to use in various math lessons.
Representing Numbers 1–10 - Worksheet
A worksheet for students to practice representing numbers from 1–10.
Aliens in a Spaceship - Counting Game
A fun, hands-on game for children to play when learning to count and use one-to-one correspondence or when learning to subitize.
Subitizing Dice - Numbers 1 to 9
Subitizing is the process of immediately recognizing how many items are in a small group.
Numbers 0–20 - Word Search
A word search to help your students to learn the word form for the numbers 0–20.
Number Ring Activity (1-20)
A number matchup activity to practice numbers 1-20.
1–20 Number Matchup Puzzles
A set of 20 matchup puzzles to help students identify the different ways to represent the numbers 1–20.
Numbers, Words, and Tallies Mix-Ups - Tens
A game to help your students understand numbers and all of the different ways they can be represented.
Subitizing 1 to 12 - Memory Game
A set of subitizing cards for students to play a game of memory when learning to subitize numbers.
6-Digit Number of the Day Worksheet
A 6-digit place value worksheet to represent the number of the day in different ways.
Numbers 1–20 Clip Cards
A hands-on counting and fine motor activity for younger students.
Number Talks - Subitizing Task Cards
Build number sense skills with this set of 30 subitizing task cards.
Ten Frame Mats (Single and Double)
A ten frame mat and a double ten frame mat to use in a variety of ways.
Counting to 20 - Cut and Paste Worksheet
Count objects within 20 and match the total to its written number on this 2-page cut-and-paste worksheet.
100 Day STEM Challenge
Count to 100 while fostering critical thinking and problem-solving skills with this set of 11 task cards.
Quickly subitize and compare numbers up to 5 with this fast-paced card game.
Subitize and Color – Worksheet
Practice subitizing to five with this color-by-number worksheet.
Numbers to 100 - Printable Tens Frames
Print a colorful set of tens frames to enhance your small group math lessons.
Subitizing Small Collections PowerPoint
An interactive, 34-slide editable PowerPoint presentation to use when teaching students to subitize.
Ordinal Numbers Worksheet
A worksheet to help students practice working with ordinal numbers.
Ten Frames – 0 To 10 Platypus Theme
A set of posters showing the ten frame for numbers 1–10.
Roman Numeral Individual Posters 1 – 10,000
A set of posters showing different Roman numerals and their values.
0-20 Number Matching Game
Match different representations of numbers 0 to 20.
Numbers 1 to 10 – Poster
A poster of numbers in different forms.
Ordinal Numbers Bingo Cards
A set of 32 bingo cards to practice ordinal numbers.
Ordinal Numbers Poster
A poster for ordinal numbers 1st - 50th, plus 60th, 70th, 80th, 90th, and 100th.