Ten Important Things to Include in Your Number of the Day Routine

There’s no doubt that students thrive on routine. Using a Number of the Day routine starts your math class off with a predictable activity that gives students a chance to make connections, problem-solve and apply what they already know to what they’re learning. It also gives students the chance to continue working with important number concepts even after you’ve moved on to other concepts in your lessons. Number of the Day gives kids opportunities to work with numbers in many different ways. Here are ten concepts to include in your routine to build strong number sense skills and boost your students’ confidence in math.


Routine #1: Word Form 

We assume that as students learn to count, recognize, and quantify numbers, they also learn to read and spell number words. This is often not the case! In order to be able to write numbers in word form, children need exposure and practice. Including word form in your daily number routine also gives opportunities to connect the words with the numerals they represent.

Routine #2: Place Value

Many mathematical concepts build on place value. Truly understanding place value provides students with a solid base for many future concepts including regrouping, multi-digit multiplication, decimals, and percentages. Place value practice gives students the opportunity to truly understand what the digits in each number mean.

Routine #3: Representing Numbers

A number is not just the numeral we print on a page. A number can be represented in so many different ways! Exposing students to multiple representations allows them to make connections and “see” how numbers can have the same value but be represented differently. Some of the representations that can be used in your Number of the Day practice include ten frames, number lines, base ten blocks, equations, arrays, dots, tally marks, pictures, words, money, fingers, dice, rekenreks and hundred charts. We can connect these representations to real, concrete materials as well as abstract representations (CRA Model) to help students build their understanding even more. 

Routine #4: Skip Counting

Skip counting is a fundamental skill used in many other math practices. We use skip counting in real life to solve problems where multiplication and division are needed, count money, tell time, and keep score in a basketball or football game. Skip counting also makes counting larger quantities quicker and more efficient. It’s also important to remember that we don’t have to start at zero when skip counting. For example, we can practice counting by 10’s starting at 13, or practice counting by $0.25 starting at $1.50.

Routine #5: Odd and Even

The concept of odd and even goes hand-in-hand with skip counting. Identifying odd and even numbers help children make sense of the number system and identify mathematical patterns. Once students learn that some numbers can be divided into two equal groups (even) and some cannot (odd), they can extend their understanding to multiplication, division, prime numbers, factors, and multiples.

Routine #6: Expanded Form

Writing numbers in expanded form is an important way to reinforce place value.  By breaking a number apart, or decomposing it, students can see the value of the number they’re working with. As numbers get larger, they become more abstract. Expanded form makes large or more complicated numbers easier to work with. 

Routine #7: Money

Recognizing, counting, and calculating values with coins and bills is not just an important math skill, but a life skill. With daily practice, children become more fluent and confident when dealing with money. Adding money to your daily routine prepares children for financial literacy throughout life.

Routine #8: Greater Than/Less Than/Equal To

When comparing two numbers, your students may be able to draw the correct symbol, but do they really know what it means? “Alligator mouth” is a common trick used to remember which symbol to use, but we want to encourage real understanding rather than tricks. With regular practice, students learn that the relationships between numbers are more than just a symbol between them. Comparing numbers builds skills that we use in the real world. 

Routine #9: Number Lines

A number line presents numbers in relation to each other and provides a visual representation that students can see. It is a versatile tool that can represent all types of numbers – positive and negative whole numbers, proper, improper and mixed fractions, decimals, and percentages. A number line encourages children to see the relationship between numbers and, as a result, develop a deeper understanding of number.

Routine #10: Equations

Incorporating equations into your Number of the Day routine can help students see patterns and connections. This practice also allows them to continuously reinforce addition/subtraction/multiplication/division skills. Equations can give you a chance to differentiate your instruction as well. For example, one student might incorporate fractions into her equations, while another focuses on whole numbers only.

Number routines build foundational skills by giving students the practice they need to build their mathematical thinking. Number of the Day is a simple but effective activity that you can do without any pre-made materials. Just write the activities on the board in the morning, and have students complete them in a notebook! However, if you are looking to simplify your prep, here are some ready-made packages that might come in handy for you. {Find links below.}

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