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Simple and Fun Dice Games to Boost Number Sense (and Why That Matters)

An important part of early math learning is learning numbers.  We know that we need to teach our kids to count.  Being able to count to ten is seen as a hallmark of toddler and preschool knowledge. 

But do your children know what those numbers mean?  Or are they just parroting them back at us?  This is where number sense comes in. 

It is important for kids to know the value behind numbers and start to understand how they relate to each other.  There are some simple ways to work on number sense with your kids. 

I love using dice because it adds an extra element of chance and fun.  Here are 5 fun and easy number sense learning activities using dice.

Simple and Fun Dice Games to Boost Number Sense! Help your preschooler and toddler really understand numbers through easy and fun games. Plus, learn why number sense is important for future math success. #learning #activity #numbers #counting #sense #toddler #preschool

What is Number Sense?

Number sense is understanding what numbers mean.  Yeah, that sounds a bit vague and perhaps hard to teach. 

But it isn’t really that complicated.  It is just a matter of understanding the values numbers represent.  So sure, you can look at the number 3 and think, that’s three.  Your child can maybe even say that to you. 

But can they look at that number and go and get 3 of something.  Do they know the value behind the number?

Number Sense Keys

There are four big key areas to focus on when it comes to working on number sense with preschoolers: counting, quantification, recognition, and addition/subtraction.

Counting is putting the numbers in order. That’s counting 1-10 (and higher).

Quantification is understanding the one value that is associated with each number. (That’s knowing that a number is a specific amount, it is how much.)

Recognition is knowing the value of each number.  (Not just that a number is a quantity but being able to identify that quantity.)

Addition/Subtraction is, well, addition and subtraction.  (The goal isn’t to be perfect on this one, more to introduce the idea that numbers can be manipulated reliably.)

Number Sense Learning Activities Using Dice

There are a lot of fun and easy ways to practice number sense.  Basically, just make sure you are doing more than just reciting the numbers to your child.  I like to base games off of what we have on hand, and what my kids are interested in.  Here are 5 of my current favorites.

Why Dice?

A first question might be ‘why use dice for number sense?’  The first reason is we have some.  I found a set of foam dice at our dollar store and Ben thought they were just the best.  They are decently big for kids, and pretty safe to toss around.  I think the kids like that they have a toy they can throw in the house.  These dice are fun, and if activities aren’t fun it is hard to get kids interested.  My kids were drawn to these dice and therefore drawn to the number games.

Dice also add randomness to our games.  An important part of number sense is recognizing the values of numbers on their own, not just in the counting order.  Dice give different numbers every time you roll, so you are unlikely to get stuck saying the same numbers over and over.

You don’t need to use any specific ones.  I like the bigger ones for my children.  They are a bit easier to manipulate and harder to lose from a strong throw.  You can even make your own out of paper.

5 Simple and Fun Games to Teach Your Child Number Sense! Grab some dice and play these fun and easy games while your preschooler learns number sense. Help build math success! #number #sense #learning #activity #games #preschool #toddler #math

Number Sense Learning Activities

Sit By Me Activities

Teach your children number sense with 5 easy and fun activities. Giggles and learning ahead! #learning #activity #preschooler #number #sense #counting #addition #subtraction

These first couple are great for directed learning time.  I call them sit by me activities because Ben and I can sit and do them together.  After a few times doing them he can actually do them on his own.  This way we can sit together at the table and he can do his ‘work’ while I do mine.

Number Search

This is pretty self-explanatory.  You search out the numbers.  I take a sheet of paper and write the numbers one through twelve randomly across it.  I try to do 3-5 of each number, but base it off your child’s skill level.  Then Ben rolls the dice.  He has to add up the two dice and then find that number on the page!

Simple number search activity to teach number sense. Perfect for toddlers and preschoolers. #learning #activity #number #sense #counting #preschool #toddler

You can use a highlighter or stamper to mark the number.  Or you can have your child circle it and work on their writing skills.  You can also just use one dice to start and build up to two.  As your child gets better and better you can add in more numbers and count even higher!  I created a search to print out and use, but don’t think you have to be fancy.  Just writing them down works just as well.

Want more easy math games? Use Uno cards to practice more number skills!

This activity works on recognizing numbers on their own, not just in the string of counting parroted back.  It also helps with counting and basic addition.  As your child improves you can work in subtraction as well when using two dice, not just addition.

One More One Less

This game works on knowing the values of numbers and how they relate to the other numbers.  What is the value of a number, what is one less, and what is one more.  I wrote out a little worksheet with a spot to write down a number.  I have Ben roll the dice and write down the number he rolls.  Then he has to figure out what is one less than that number and what is one more.

Easy number sense activities for kids! Work on really understanding what numbers mean in a fun way. #learning #activity #Number #sense #counting #preschool #toddler #homeschool

You can do this just by writing down the numbers.  Pop the worksheet into a protective sleeve and use a dry erase marker.  Another option is to work further on knowing the value by having small objects to count out.  Cheerios, legos, rocks, any sort of small object will work.

Basic Addition and Subtraction

This one is really straightforward.  Roll the dice and add up the numbers.  Or subtract them.  Again you can write out a worksheet with boxes to fill in and use a dry erase marker to write out the numbers.  Or grab your small objects and have your child count them out.  I actually really prefer this method when working on basic arithmetic.  It gives a concrete image of the value manipulations that are taking place.

Jump and Run Activities

Sit by me activities are great, but sometimes we need to get some wiggles out while we learn.  Here are two simple number sense activities that encourage your children to get up and move.  You can customize them to your needs and your children’s interests.

Mega Bloks can boost your child’s number understanding! Learn how!

Number Chase

Write out the numbers 1-12 on different pieces of paper and tape them up around the room.  Then have your children take turns rolling the dice and running to the number they roll.  Ben can do this one pretty well.  Ali and Sammy, at only two, like throwing the dice, but need some help understanding what number to run to.  That is okay.  They are having fun and they are learning.

We played this game as a team with everyone trying to get the numbers.  If you have competitive kids you can keep track of who gets there first.  Whoever adds up the numbers on the dice and gets to that number on the wall first 5 times wins.  Or however you want to do it.  Just make it fun and encourage your children to move!

Number Squirt

This is a fun one for summer.  It takes a little prep, but it is worth it.  Go outside and write down the numbers from your dice all over in chalk.  On the sidewalk, on your driveway, on your back porch.  We have a walled-in backyard so I was able to write numbers on that.

Then give each of your children a squirt gun or spray bottle full of water.  Roll the dice, find that numbers, and spray it away!  You’re done when all the numbers have been washed away.  Again you can make this a team game, or work in some competition.  Whatever works best for your family is what is best.

5 Simple and Fun Math Games to Boost Number Sense! Learn what number sense is and why it matters along with 5 easy games to teach your children. Plus grab some printables to help out! #number #sense #learning #activity #counting #toddler #preschool #homeschool
5 Activities to Teach Number Sense. Easy and fun games to play with your kids to help boost math success. Plus free printables to do them at home! #number #sense #learning #activity #printable #preschool #toddler #math

Number Treasure Hunt

You can make number sense extra exciting by creating a fun treasure hunt!

Create a sensory experience and work fine motor skills as your child hunts down and unwraps numbers. Then they get to figure out where they go!

You can learn more about this activity here: Number Treasure Hunt for Kids

Count Away!

These are such easy and fun games to do with your children.  If you have small dice they can even be great for on the go.  Add them to your take anywhere activities.  These are easily customized for your child’s interests and needs.  And they are just fun!  Learning number sense skills at a young age helps with overall math success in school.  Numbers and number sense can be fun if we let them!

Free printables to teach number sense! Help your children learn the meaning of numbers and boost their math skills. #number #skills #counting #sense #leaning #preschool #toddler #printable

Want to grab the printables I made to do these math games with your kids? They are free to Team Cartwright subscribers!  Join the team and get access to my library of free printables. These include math games, STEM projects, and my twin tracking worksheets.  By signing up you are agreeing to receive emails from Team Cartwright. We do not sell or share your info with third parties.  Please see my disclosure for more info.

Here are more learning activities for you to try!

Teach your toddler and preschooler number sense, counting, sorting, colors, and more with just Uno Cards. Easy and fun learning. #toddlerlearning #preschoollearning #coloractivity #sortingactivity #numbersense #countingactivity #easytoddleractivity #easypreschoolactivity #nomesslearning #noprepnumberactivity #homeschooltoddler #preschoolathome
Use Mega Bloks to create fun and easy learning activities for your toddler and preschooler! Practice colors, sorting, and counting with ease. Grab a dry erase marker and practice letters and math! #preschoollearning #toddlerlearning #learningactivity #DIYlearning #homeschool #easylearning #countingactivity #coloractivity #numberactivity
Simple Sound Science Activities for Kids! 4 easy ways to explore how sound waves work, all using items you have at home. #learning #activity #preschool #simple #sound #science #homeschool
Free printable worksheets to teach number sense! Join our team and get access to these great worksheets. Fun and easy math games for your preschooler! #number #sense #math #preschool #counting #addition #printable #toddler #subtraction #learning #activity
Learning number sense starts early! Here are 4 printable math games to work on counting and number sense with your preschooler. #learning #activity #preschool #toddler #number #sense #math #counting #games #printable
Number sense is so important for future math success. But what exactly is it? And how do you help your kids learn it? Here is what number sense means and super easy ways to boost it in your children. #number #sense #math #learning #activity #game #toddler #preschooler #kids
Easy and fun games the boost counting skills in preschoolers! Help your preschooler work on number sense with these simple and fun games. (Plus get some free printables!) #NumberSense #LearningGames #CountingGames #preschool #HomeschoolMath #PreschoolMath #PreschoolLearning



easy learning activities that teach number sense perfect for preschoolers with picture of child playing number sense game



Easy and fun Number Squirt Game Easy Math Game for kids

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Monday 9th of July 2018

My 4 year old LOVES numbers. She is counting constantly. I am going to find some dice and start doing more with her, she clearly has the number gene :)


Monday 9th of July 2018

Yay for a number lover! I think she will love the dice then!


Sunday 8th of July 2018

I love these ideas, the dice search is fun and easy, gotta try it out with my kiddo.


Monday 9th of July 2018

The easy activities are the best ones in my book. My kiddos still love playing with the dice, even a few weeks later.


Sunday 8th of July 2018

We love using dice games to learn! I am absolutely loving the number squirt idea too! I am always for fun outside, and my kids love any type of water play too!


Monday 9th of July 2018

Getting to use squirt guns always gets my kiddo's attention. Whatever works, right? :)


Wednesday 4th of July 2018

You always have the best ideas! Thanks for these, these are some great activities for my 3 and 5 year old this summer.


Friday 6th of July 2018

Thank you! I hope your kids enjoy them as much as mine do!


Monday 2nd of July 2018

I love these! My son is super into dice, but I never really thought about using them as a teaching tool. I will be trying some of these out next time he pulls the dice out!


Monday 2nd of July 2018

I hope he likes them! You can be so creative with dice games.

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