Dramatic play? AND Number Sense?


As a future educator, I have learned that anything can be taught in mostly every learning domain especially number sense! Educators have to realize that numbers are absolutely everywhere, there is no hiding… but we can use this to our advantage while teaching children number sense.

Throughout my multiple placements (toddler room, preschool, grade 1/2 class as well as my present one in a grade 1 class) you can engage every activity with number sense/math.  Sometimes it takes a bit of thinking…  or a little bit of searching from the web to see how it can be incorporated.


On Pintrest I found a creative, fun and interactive way an FDK educator can set up the drama play centre  to have the children talk numbers naturally with the scene set up. Or a fun interactive structured way that involves daily physical activity as well as, role play.


drama play

One that I found, really interacts well with number sense is a restuarant setting/bake shop or a grocery store.  I have watched children in a restaurant/grocery store interact well and used an extensive amount of imaginary play in a preschool daycare centre! It was interesting to watch the young children, speak to their peers and take on jobs that they have watched in a familiar setting. Without even being in a structured instructional class instilling number sense the children were investigating and exploring numbers through role play/dramatic  play their daily

You do not necessarily need a particular theme here is a way how different materials that can be incorporated in the dramatic play centre are all essential to not only math number sense development, but other learning domains as well. I found this video to be very helpful to start off the dramatic play centre!

Novakowski (2007) explains that math happens through experiences. She describes her experiences, to be child centred where creativity is added as well as teacher acting as a facilatator.


The Importance of Math Talk

One thing that I have always had a problem with, is ensuring that I am using the proper math language and word choice with children when directing and prompting them.

Being in placement and observing the children during particular math lessons, I realized that many children are always trying to find the right answer. And I noticed that as I would circulate the classroom and the children would constantly ask ” Ms. Volpe did I get the right answer?!” …


Children need to try and dig deeper, and not only think about finding the right answer, it is about the inquiry of how one got the answer. Interactions with peers, throughout number sense math play, is essential for their development.

As I was reading and researching for one of my Early Years courses I came across and interesting finding and I thought I would share it with you guys!!!

Boonen et.al (2011) “found that mathematical knowledge in number sense (counting) can be stimulated by the amount of math talk that is provided and used by the teacher in the classroom environment”(Boonen et.al,2011,p.4).

This is an older video, and a little bit dated, but… the content is really good, take a look on how easy it is to incorporate math talk in number sense is effective and how to do it throughout play/classroom daily routines.


Then, I found this useful way to try and find new and innovative ways to try and help the children dig deeper in their math and prompt their math talk.

This is one way you can get children engaged in math talk throughout math centres, or during play. You can simplify the sentence prompts or starters for the appropriate age! Children will come up with creative things and ways to explain how they came up with their mathematical finding!



Representing Whole Numbers

A constructivist way on representing the number 5 for example, could be giving the students a fair amount of materials in which they can create their own picture, or scene with only the whole number that is required.

This brings creativity and uniqueness, and an open ended approach that touches upon other areas of learning like role play, or aides the children in connecting real life experiences with their math!



I had implemented this activity in a math centre at Deer Park Junior and Senior Public School in Toronto,Ontario. This child represented the whole number 5 with a pink fishing rod, and she was remembering when she went fishing in the summer. The beads represent the fish she was trying to catch.

Interactive Oral “Five Frame &Ten Frame”

Need an interactive and fun way to reinforce the concept of ten frames, and one to one correspondence of counting?!?! Here is a fun Youtube video that prompts the interest in counting!


Recommendations for children that are younger than 5, or are still learning to count should start with 5 frames.  Therefore reinforcing  and modelling this with teacher direction helps aide children’s conceptual understanding of one-to one correspondence.(McGuire.,et,al, 2011)

Here are some activities you can use at a math centre in a full day kindergarten classroom!!

Adding Literacy to Math is Important

During circle time, or throughout carpet time, read a book that has exposure to number sense, either by counting, number words, numerals etc. This reinforces the new knowledge and skills of number sense and it bridges language and math  together!

I have used numerous books throughout my placements to connect with number sense.

But, this one always stands out and is most effective!

  • “Chicka Chicka 1,2,3” By: Bill Martin Jr., Michael Sampson

Not only is incorporating literacy and math together a great strategy to spark the children’s interest, but adding…


                                              and maybe? ART?


Don’t know where to start ?

Hey there,

As a future educator I would love for people to give me advice on how to start a math concept ! Here are my ideas on how I would start! Check it out:)

For the start of the unit NUMBER SENSE, one of the categories, or learning expectation that would be best to begin with would be getting familiar with numerals. The expectations that are relevant to getting familiar with numerals  from the Full-Day Kindergarten Curriculum Guide are:

  • NS1.4 demonstrate understanding of the counting concepts of stable order.
  • NS1.5 recognize some quantities without having to count, using a variety of tools (e.g., dominoes, dot plates, dice, number of fingers)

In order to make this an interesting and fun concept to tackle, teachers and ECEs in the full day kindergarten classroom can integrate this skill into other areas of learning like music and movement. This can be done by:

  • teaching them a song/chant to go along with counting (song example: “Counting with my Friends” by: David Burda is MY absolute favourite)