Saturday, July 18, 2015

Mental Math {Linky Week 3 with a FREEBIE}

It's time for week 3 of our linky series all about number sense!  Laura with Kinder Kraziness is hosting this week so be sure and read her wonderful ideas {here}.

Week 3: Mental Math

This is a fun one!  Mental math allows our kiddos to focus on number relationships.  Working mentally requires them to rely on what they already know and understand.  Fact fluency automatically pops into my brain when I think about mental math but there is so much more we can do to build a solid foundation with number sense.  Here are a few examples/resources that I hope you can use in your classroom:

"Onesies" Dice Game

I was introduced to this game by my sweet friend Carol Stafford.  Onesies is a popular game in her classroom and is done all year.  She even has admin and other faculty, as well as older students, who stop by to challenge her kinders to a quick game every now and again.  Awesome! I plan on making Onesies a BIG deal in my room this year...just like Carol does. To play the game each player needs 6 dice.  When the race starts, each player begins rolling the dice as fast as they can while looking for ones.  When ones are rolled, they are stacked on top of one another to make a tower (of dice showing one).  So they will roll the dice, pull out the dice that show one and stack them on top of the tower, and then roll the remaining dice again to look for more ones.  This continues until a tower of 6 ones has been made.  Then the tower is broken down and the player starts again, trying to build a tower of twos.  This repeats for threes, fours, fives and sixes.  The player who finishes making their complete tower of six first is the winner.  This can be done as a whole group competition, small group or partner race.  It's fast-paced and fun...and helps students become quick at recognizing those numbers!  For an even quicker version, you can ask students to race while completing a tower that shows one, two, three, four, five, six stacked on top of each other.  Store sets of 6 dice in a cheap container so they will be ready for play whenever.
*I know this description is a bit confusing.  I will add a video tutorial soon!*

Subitizing Spoons

Perceptual subitizing (recognizing a number without any math process) is a great way to build number sense and cardinality.  Just like Onesies, Subitizing Spoons helps strengthen students' ability to subitize quickly.  You can read all about this cheap and easy game in an earlier post I wrote {here} or by clicking on the spoons picture.
There are many cheap ways to make subitizing flashcards or "quick images" for practice.  Here is an inexpensive plate idea I found on Pinterest from Frogs and Cupcakes.  She has a cute video tutorial and subitizing arrangement cheat sheet picture on her blog too!

Piggy Poof: Subitizing to 5

I love to play Poof games in my classroom.  They are great for small group fun or intervention/enrichment time.  Here's a new one that is perfect for the beginning of the year when we are working specifically with numbers to 5.  It shows the numbers in different ways and is simple enough for young learners to catch on quickly and become confident in their number recognition.  You can download it for FREE {here} or by clicking the picture.

Count Around the Circle

Here's another great number sense activity from Jessica Shumway's Number Sense Routines.  You make your way around the circle by counting different ways.  For example, I may say let's count around the circle by 5's starting with 25.  You could practice skip counting, +1 or -1, counting backwards, etc.  This is great for giving your little ones practice with beginning their counting with numbers other than 1 (Common Core...counting from any given number!).

Roll and Cover Games

These differentiated games are wonderful for number recognition/subitizing, finding the sum of 2 numbers and finding the sum of 3 numbers.  I have 13 FREE Roll and Cover games that you can download {here}.  I most always have one of these games in a math tub, morning work drawer, or math station.  :)

Connections with Literature

Here are a few book suggestions that incorporate mental math.

Over the next 2 months I'm working with a few other teachers to focus on these guiding principles of number sense.  Our hope is to share tips, strategies and examples that help impact student learning and push number sense to the next level!  Make sure to check back for week 4 on math strategies! :)


  1. Some great ideas here. I particularly love the 'onesies' game - I'm off to go play that with my son now! Thanks for sharing some terrific ideas!

    1. Thanks for reading! Have fun playing...its addicting! :)


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