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Number sense has been considered as one of the most important mathematical notions to be addressed in school mathematics in the 21st century. In this paper, we identify how students of a public middle school, located in a rural area in Mexico, develop several aspects of number sense by performing tasks involving arithmetic operations in a shopping context. Students invented mental and written calculation strategies that provide evidence of understanding regarding numbers and operations. Students used fantasy money as a representation system to decompose quantities in non-standard ways, or referred to strategies employed by unschooled people. Strategies that involve modifying the quantities before applying the written algorithm for subtraction, in order to perform a subtraction without regrouping, also appeared. That is, it was identified a transfer from mental calculation strategies to a paper and pencil scenario for facilitating calculations during problem solving, which is an indicator of student’ creativity and number sense. Additionally, the proposed tasks promoted the understanding of decimal numbers.
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