Hands-On Number Sentences

Hands-on number sentences can be a ton of fun, especially when you let the kiddos add up some of their favorite things. We’ve been learning about number sentences and using dinosaurs, spiders, and snakes to do it. The kids can’t get enough of number sentences when they get to pick their own manipulatives. 

With a few simple supplies, your students will want to work on number sentences all day long! We’ve been using small dinos, snakes, and spiders but you can find almost any tiny manipulative that your students will enjoy. Usually, you can find several options at the dollar store. If nothing else, counting bears, blocks of 10, or even dried beans will do the trick.

Hands-On Number Sentences

This activity goes well with


Number Sentence Free Printable (laminated or placed in a sheet protector)

10 Manipulatives Per Student (Small dinos, insects, bears, beans, blocks of ten, etc.)

Dry-Erase Markers

Hands-On Number Sentences

Grab the Number Sentence Free Printable to get started.  Printing this on card stock will help it to last longer. Laminate it or stick it in a sheet protector so that the students can use dry-erase markers and write on it over and over again.

We use this activity as one of the first to introduce number sentences. It helps the students to see that addition is putting two groups together.

Hands-On Number Sentences

The students will put a certain number of manipulatives in the first circle and write the number of manipulatives on the line under the circle. They do the same for the second circle. Then the students combine both groups of manipulatives in the larger, third circle. They count how many are in the larger circle and write that number on the line beneath it.

Hands-On Number Sentences

After we work on this together, it always turns into a favorite center for them. Some students will even want to raid their toy boxes at home to find more fun manipulatives for number sentences! The possibilities are endless! This activity really brings number sentences alive for the students.


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