Making Sense of Numbers


Screen Shot 2017-11-01 at 08.04.13Central Idea: Numbers can be used for many different purposes in the real world.

Key Concepts: Form, Function and Connection

ATL Skills: Thinking and Communication Skills


Before we get to know numbers,  I asked them what numbers are and why we have numbers.  Do we need numbers?  What happens if there are no numbers?

These were their responses:

  • Then…how do we count?
  • You can’t tell if there are two or three things.
  • Does it mean that there is no language? —> This one is interesting.  The connection between numbers and language.
  • How can you tell the total of something?
  • Then, we can’t explain how many things are.

I took some markers and showed them.  How will you explain what I have without numbers?

  • There are blue, red and green markers.
  • There are more red markers than the blue one.  
  • There are less blue markers than the red one.

Ok…but how many more?  Can you explain the quantity?  The amount?


Ahhh…then we do need numbers!!

So, now we have numbers.  What can we do with them? 1… on

The second graders shared what they think they can do with numbers.

You can add.  You can subtract.  You can use them to count.

Screen Shot 2017-11-01 at 07.52.48.png

So if you have these numbers, what do the numbers mean?  What is missing here?

Screen Shot 2017-11-01 at 08.08.16.png

One student saw the connection among these numbers and said, ‘You add 4 and 5 equal 9.’

”Or you can subtract them!’ added another boy.

What do we need to make more sense of these numbers then?

The symbols.  + ,  – ,  = , <, >, ≠

The symbols add meaning to the numbers.  This is when I get them understand that the maths symbols are used in creating a number sentence.  What you do with numbers will be showed using the maths symbols.

When they work on maths word problems, the students are encouraged to show how they solve the problems using different strategies such as pictures and number sentence.

So, don’t forget the symbols when you work with numbers!




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