February 20, 2012

Butterfly Number Sense

Recently I discover pieces of an old bulletin border with butterflies and they looked beautiful and so real that I had the idea to cut out the butterflies and glue them on skewers to work with number sense.
First I observed if the students liked the butterflies and they surely did.

Here are some of the ways I used to work with number sense.

Count the butterflies:
How many are you holding? 

How many are on the table?
How many are on the leaf? 
How many are flying?

Number knowledge - Compare quantities:
You hold these and you hold these.
How many do you have? and you?
Who has the larger number of butterflies?
Who has the least amount of butterflies?

Story problems with object reference:
Two butterflies were flying then one joined in. How many are flying altogether?

Four butterflies were flying then one decided to fly away. How many are flying now?

Non-verbal calculation
I make two butterflies fly and hide behind a chair but do not say anything. Then make one more fly and hide behind the chair. Then ask: How many butterflies were flying? or are hiding?

This was the students favorite activity. They were so quiet and paying close attention to how many butterflies were disappearing behind the chair.

Addition and subtraction with no object reference:
How much is one plus one? Two minus one?

I do the problems according to the students’ level of ability.

The students were also invited to create their own story problems.


It is essential for preschoolers to explore NUMBER SENSE in different ways. You need to make it fun and use different strategies like the ones I mentioned above as well as many others.

Find something they like. You can use the students themselves.
The bottom line is that working with number sense continuously expands your students’ Math abilities and they will carry this on to the next grade levels. 

Amelia Mello, M. Ed.

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