Friday, April 24, 2015

How to deepen Number Sense with Rekenreks

First of all, what exactly do I mean by "number sense"?
Broadly defined, number sense refers to having the intuition to not only understand numbers and number relationships, but also developing the ability to flexibly use this knowledge to solve mathematical problems. It’s a skill that’s developed early on in a child’s education, sometimes as young as age 2. According to the University of Cambridge’s NRICH Project, young children can identify the difference between one, two or three objects before they even learn to count.

My mind was recently blown by the October 2014 National Governors Association Paper that stated,
"A child's math ability when he or she enters school has proved a better predictor of academic achievement, high school graduation & college attendance than any other early childhood skill.  Early mathematics competency predicts later reading achievement better than early literacy skills.  High-quality early mathematics instruction supports later learning of the science, technology, engineering & mathematics skills U.S. employers require."
(Bold & underline emphasis is mine, not theirs.)

YOU GUYS!! This is HUGE.  Number sense in the early grades is crucial! We've GOT to make sure they're getting it.  The textbook alone is not going to teach it.  Our youngest learners need hands-on activities.  Rekenreks are a great hands-on way to help develop number relationships and flexibility when it comes to thinking about numbers.
Of course you can buy them, but ain't nobody got money for that!
I made an entire class set for $6.
1.  Pony beads, foam board, and pipe cleaners.  That's all you need!
2.  I cut my foam board into approx. 5"x3" rectangles and cut 2 slits on each end.
(I found that a X-acto knife was the best cutting tool.)
String 10 beads on each pipe cleaner, using two colors (5 & 5).
3.  Tuck the ends into the slits & twist them on the backside.
4.  That's it!  Your students could even make these!

Now what?
There are great resources all over the web for using reckenreks in the classroom.  
  • K-5 Math Teaching Resources has a great explanation of how and how.
  • Here's a free E-book by Dr. Barbara Blanke that has 10 activities along with an introduction to using the Rekenrek or Number Rack. It even includes correlations to the CCSS!
  • There are tons of great ideas on Pinterest, of course.  Click the image below to see lots of them!

Do you use rekenreks? Tell us about it in the comments! Also, feel free to leave links to other great rekenrek resources!


Thanks so much for your comments! I love reading them!

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