Number Sense: Conservation Principle

Developing Number Sense: Principles of Counting

All concepts of number sense need to be actively taught.

The conservation principle is one of the first few principles children learn when developing their understanding of number sense.

Conservation Principle.

This concept comes very easy for some students and not so much for others. It is the ability to count objects and not be concerned with their location relative to each other.

Five blocks touching each other are five.

Five blocks spread out on the playground are still five.


I usually play fun games with gems, cookies or random objects to explore conservation with students. Exploring with blocks during our learning block time or any other materials students are using will help them develop this skill

Small Group Instruction Example
With the gems, I will place some in my hands and pour them slowly together onto the table and have students count them. Then, I will have students pick them up and toss them into a bucket and count them. Practicing this in a variety of ways helps students develop this skill!

Want to see more blog posts on number sense principles or activities to support numbr sense development? Click here!

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