Number Sense in kindergarten refers to counting, how numbers are different, how numbers can decrease and increase and the pattern of our number system. Without having a complete knowledge of counting, there are things a child can do to help prepare them for how teachers address number sense in kindergarten. Use the following tools and activities to help your child prepare for kindergarten.
The Number Line
I couldn't imagine a kindergarten classroom without a number line. Nearly every classroom uses a number line to help students count and write numbers. You can make a number line by cutting paper in half lengthwise and taping it together. About 3 piece of paper will give you enough length for number 1-20 or 30. I think that would be an appropriate length for a beginning number line. Most kindergarten rooms have lines that go to 100 so if you have room and want to go all the way, it certainly couldn't hurt. I strongly recommend having the child make the number line. Allow them to cut the paper, tape and write the numbers if they have the ability. Place the number line in their room or in a high traffic area throughout the house.
Most children can count to a given number without knowing what those numbers look like. Show the child how to use the number line to count and see what numbers look like. Be explicit in the purpose of the number line: to help us know how to write our numbers. Use the Sand & Shaving Cream activity outlined here to do writing activities with numbers. Ask the child to write a number and ask them to count while touching the numbers of the number line to see how to write that number. It is also fun to take pictures of the child holding up a written number and placing it near the number on the number line (if there's room).
Most Math curriculums used today employ a calendar for daily use in kindergarten. I recommend using a dry erase calendar for daily work. The calendar should include these parts: name of the month, names of the days of the week, year, holidays, birthdays and other special occasions noted. I also like to have a list of the months next to the calendar so the child can see the progression of months and how far away things are like Christmas and their birthday. Allow the child to write the date on the calendar and to cross off previous days.
The Hundreds Chart
Large versions of these are easy to make and the bigger the better. Use a poster board with a grid already on it or draw a grid of 10x10 squares. If you don't want to make one you can find these at any teacher store or online at many teacher supply outlets. In my classroom I use hundreds charts that has pockets to place numbers in. If you have space near the calendar it would be advantageous to have the child count days until a special occasion or simply to record the number of days in a given year. On special days (like 100 or any day that ends in 0) offer a special prize or treat.
One of the most beneficial uses of the hundreds chart is to present the numbers so that patterns are highly visible. When using the number chart with your child be sure to recognize how many different numbers have the same beginnings and endings.
Knowledge of these math tools will leave your child very prepared for what they will see and use in kindergarten. And, as always, leave the babysitter with these tools and this page of instructions to maximize your time away from home.