Number Sense

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Mathematics requires students to makes sense of numbers. Students need to understand and apply numerical information to real life situations using quantitative methods to communicate, process and interpret numerical information (Booker, Bond, Sparrow & Swan, 2004). Number sense is involves students applying their mathematical skills and knowledge to find the solution to solve a problem using various skills of adding, subtracting, dividing and multiplication.The following examples show how mathematical skills are applied to daily life and are necessary to possess in order to function within society.


  • Addition and subtraction: using money to buy items
  • Multiplication and division: sharing lollies among friends
  • Fractions and percentages: cutting a pizza to equally share among a their family Mathematical calculations which are derived from meaningful and authentic situations promote the learning and helps children to develop skills that help them to makes sense of numbers.

This in turn encourages students to reflect on the new knowledge and skills that they have acquired to cross check their findings, ensuring that they have completely understood to process to achieving the correct answer (Reys, Lindquist, Lambdin & Smith, 2009).

Students who explore mathematical equations using meaningful situations will develop ways to adapt and apply formulas to enable them to practically apply it to real life. Teaching mathematics needs to focuses on engaging students using real mathematical problem. (Booker, Bond, Sparrow & Swan, 2004). Promoting number sense in the classroom using authentic activities can be done using hands on activities such as:

  1. Creating a scenario and asking students to act it, for example buying and selling. This activity would allow students to make calculation using methods of addition, subtraction, division and multiplication.
  2. Making jelly cups using different colours in to show fractions and percentages.
  3. Using blocks or paddle pop sticks to solve problems that involve division and multiplication skills, such as grandma baked 20 cookies and she has 5 grandchildren. What fraction of the cookies does each child get?
  4. Taking students for an excursion to the supermarket and asking them to calculate the cost of products on the provided worksheet using methods of addition, subtraction, division and multiplication.
  5. Creating a chart or graph representing the students in the classroom, for examples boys and girls or different cultures. This activity uses skills relating to fractions and percentages.


  1. Booker, G. , Bond, D. , Sparrow, L. & Swan, P. (2004). Teaching primary mathematics.
  2. Frenchs Forest: Pearson Education Reys, R, Lindquist, M, Lambdin, D, & Smith, N. (2009). Helping children learn Mathematics. USA: Wiley

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