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Developing Number Sense | Counting Beyond 100

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Photo of Alison Smith
Updated | 5 min read

Number Sense

What is Number Sense?

Number sense is a biggy to unpack but, essentially it is a set of skills that allow students to work with numbers and to understand the why and the how of mathematics. Number sense refers to our students having a progressive level of understanding about numbers, their size, relationships, and how they are affected by the four mathematical operations.

Students with good number sense are able to make connections between related concepts, adapt mathematical concepts and transfer them.

Number Sense and Counting Beyond 100

What happens when you ask your students to count aloud beyond 100?

Counting to 100 and beyond is a fundamental part of number sense. The chances are that when asked to count aloud, most primary students will stop at 100. Many students are unsure about counting aloud beyond 100 and you’ll probably find that this is even more evident if you ask them to write the numbers on paper.

Lack of Exposure

There are a few reasons why your students may be struggling with counting beyond 100. One significant reason in the primary years is lack of exposure.

Stop for a moment and ask yourself how many of your mathematics posters, number charts, and number lines go beyond 100? You’ll probably find that most of the 100 charts and posters that you have on display in your classroom stop at 100.

Solution- Upgrade to Using a Numbers 21-130 Chart

To support your students to develop number sense and count beyond 100, we have created a new Number 21-130 Chart to support your students when counting beyond100.

We have created four different versions of this number chart to allow you to use them in a variety of ways and differentiate to meet your students’ needs. You can choose from the following versions:

Read on for more brilliant ways to encourage your students to count beyond 100.

Count Objects in Tens

Counting by tens is an essential skill that builds number sense, encourages thinking about number structures, and make counting larger numbers easier. Students with a strong conceptual understanding of a ten and the tens place are better prepared to work with two-digit numbers and beyond.

Figuring Out What One Hundred Looks Like

A critical part of counting beyond 100 and developing number sense is a hands-on experience. It is vital that your students develop an understanding of what 100 looks like and how that can differ.

Perhaps the hardest thing about providing your students with the opportunity for your student to count items in excess of 100, is getting your hands on enough concrete materials! You’d be surprised how easy it is to find lots of little things around your classroom! Think craft sticks, pebbles, pasta shapes, pegs, and counters.

If you can’t get your hands on a large collection of items, fret not. We have created a Counting Collections in the Hundreds PowerPoint to use in the classroom when exploring efficient ways of counting collections in the hundreds.

Use Brain Boggling Visuals

My five-year-old son, Harvey, recently asked me ‘How big do numbers get?’ My answer was -‘There is no largest number, they go up forever and ever’. What a mind-boggling concept this is!

The best way to show that numbers go beyond 100 is to show your students collections of items bigger than 100… much bigger!

How many sprinkles do you think are in this teaspoon?

Yes, I did. I counted them. There were exactly 100 sprinkles in my teaspoon.

I guess the next thing to do is to ask your students –How many sprinkles do you think there are in the big jar? or How could we make an estimation based on what we know?

Extend Number Lines

Set your students up for success by providing them with number lines that exceed 100. You’ve guessed it. We’ve created it. Use our Number Line – 0-120 as an effective way to increase your student’s experience and exposure to numbers beyond 100.

Base-10 blocks

Another reason why counting beyond 100 can be tricky is that our number system is complex. Suddenly, we have strange zeros appearing in the middle of numbers such as 101 and 102. The only way for your mini mathematicians to comprehend this is to focus on place value and the value of each digit.

I’m sure that you’ve heard this before… use concrete materials! Base-10 Blocks are a brilliant concrete item that can be used to help your students to visualize the value of numbers.

Don’t miss out on our collection of Place Value teaching resources and Unit Plans to help your students to develop number sense and to transfer their knowledge and understanding of numbers beyond 100.

High Five a Number

High Five a Number is a fun way to explore numbers beyond 100 and place value as part of your morning routine. Here’s how:

Number of the Day

Make it part of your daily practice to explore a Number of the Day.

We used our customizable Teal Chevron – Letters and Numbers Pennant banner and our time saving          0-1,100 Number And Word Flashcards Circles to create this cool display. With a display this fancy, your students will remember to do Number of the Day even if you don’t!

Teal letters pennant banner number of the day classroom display

For the perfect mathematics warm-up activity, we have created a Number of the Day Worksheet for two-digit, three-digit, and four-digit numbers that will help your students to unpack numbers and improve their number sense. Students are required to:

  • write the number in word form
  • write the number in digit form
  • record the place value of each digit
  • write the number in expanded form
  • create a number pattern starting with the given number
  • represent the number with beads on an abacus
  • write a number greater than the given number
  • write a number less than the given number.

For more brilliant activities for a MathWarm-Up read Holly’s blog 23 Math Warm-Up Ideas for Your Classroom.

Play Active Games

Check out our brand new teaching resource –Ten Add Bowling Active LearningAll you need is a set of skittles, a flat surface, and a ball. We found many different Mini Bowling Sets to choose from at Target. Alternatively, you could collect and reuse ten plastic bottles.

After each bowl, ask your students to order the digit that they have knocked over to create the largest number possible!

For more brilliant active learning ideas check out ourActive Learning Resource Pack.

I hope that you are feeling beyond 100% ready to encourage your students to progress to counting beyond 100.

Remember the steps to success in developing number sense are exposure, hands-on experience, real-world context, and fun.

Don’t forget to capture your classroom successes in a photo and share them on Instagram #teachstarter_texas.


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