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Summary of Reference

Bobis, Janette

Visualisation and the Development of Number Sense with Kindergarten Children

Bibliographic data:
Bobis, J. (1996). Visualisation and the development of number sense with kindergarten children. In J. Mulligan & M. Mitchelmore (Eds). Children’s number learning. Adelaide: The Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers, 1996, pp. 17-33.

Many children lack a good ‘sense of number’ despite having been exposed to formal mathematics schooling. This paper draws together research investigating aspects of, and the relationship between, number sense and visualisation.

Number sense is recognisable in students who seem to exhibit an ‘intuitive feel’ for numbers, but it is difficult to define precisely and almost impossible to assess accurately. Broadly speaking, it refers to a well organised conceptual network of number information that enables a person to understand numbers and number relationships and to solve mathematical problems in ways that are not bound by traditional algorithms.

Visualisation is the ability to form a mental picture of an object, a pattern, a formula, or a shape. Researchers now recognise the importance of studying young children’s visual representations of numbers in their attempts to explore their earliest understandings of number concepts.

It seems that activities that focus on the visual identification of groups of numbers rather than counting one-by-one help develop understanding of part-whole relationships, especially in the decomposition of ten. Given that many children lack a well-developed number sense after being exposed to traditional teaching it is crucial that alternative methods be explored. While counting is important, it does not allow children to develop a rich variety of number relationships. Visualisation at a young age gives children these additional skills.