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How To Do Math Talks in Kindergarten | 5 Easy Tips

Fellow teachers and parents of littles, are you ready to learn about these amazing math talks in kindergarten?  Well, get your math hats on because we’re about to explore the powerful realm of math talks in kindergarten!

You see, math talks are like magical moments in our classroom. They’re not just about numbers and equations; they’re about sparking curiosity, fostering critical thinking, and helping our little learners develop a love for all things math-related.

It’s like watching a tiny seed grow into a beautiful flower, but instead of flowers, we’re growing brilliant mathematical minds!

Gone are the days when math was all about boring textbooks and memorizing facts. We’re here to make math come alive, my friends!

With math talks, we engage our kindergarteners in interactive and exciting conversations that make their little eyes light up with wonder. It’s like a secret code to unlock the mysteries of numbers, shapes, patterns, and more!

In this blog post, we’ll discover all the incredible benefits math talks offer our precious kindergarteners. We’ll share the strategies we use to create these meaningful discussions, and we’ll unveil the unforgettable learning experiences our little mathematicians get to enjoy.

Whether you’re a teacher seeking fresh ideas or a parent looking to support your child’s math journey, this article is your treasure map to the captivating world of math talks in kindergarten!

Trust me, the joy on their faces as they unravel math’s mysteries will warm your heart like a cozy cup of hot chocolate on a chilly day!

Are you excited? I sure am! Let’s dive into the magical world of math talks in kindergarten, where every conversation is an opportunity for growth, discovery, and endless mathematical adventures!

What are Daily Math Talks

Also known as number talks, math talks are designed to encourage children to speak their understanding of math, while building mental math and computation.

As the kiddos go through the process of reasoning, you are given an invaluable opportunity to assess the students true understanding of mathematics.

The significance behind number talks lies in the conversations.

The kids are given the freedom to exchange their thoughts freely; sharing processes rather than final answers.

These talks about math are about problem solving, looking at problems from a different perspective, and supporting one another along the way.

Number talks are so important that they have become a standard within the kindergarten math curriculum.

How To Start Math Talks

When starting, set aside a short time frame (5-15 minutes) dedicated to have purposely crafted talks about math.

You will want to set clear expectations for participation before starting number talks with your kiddos.  For example, reinforce not blurting out while others are speaking.  I know; easier said than done. But, I promise once they become engaged, they will not interrupt one another.

5 Tips for Math Talks in Kindergarten

Alright, my fellow kindergarten teachers, it’s time to gather around and discover five fabulous tips for starting these talks in our classrooms!

These tips are like little treasures that will help us create engaging and meaningful conversations about math with our adorable little learners. So, let’s get ready to ignite their curiosity and nurture their budding mathematical minds.

  1. Establish rules for number talks:  Common rules for number talks are to let others share their thoughts without interrupting, give a hand signal when you want to speak, and learn from others.
  2. Keep number talks short:  Depending on the question and how many kids want to share, math talks should last between 5-15 minutes.
  3. Ask open-ended questions:  The open-ended questions in the Kindergarten Math Talks Bundle allow the kids to share their mathematical reasoning without feeling they got the answer wrong.
  4. Question rather than correct:  If a kid answers a question in a way that doesn’t seem aligned with the skills you’ve taught, ask more questions.  “Can you tell/show me how you came up with that?”, etc.
  5. Provide clear visuals: The pictures in our Daily Math Talks resource offer the kids visual support when needed.  While offering support, some of the pictures are non-definitive and allow the kids to explore the mathematical skills.

What Questions To Ask During Number Talks

As a kindergarten teacher, I had to change my “teacher mindset” from correcting to encouraging.  I get it.  I know you have a million things to cover in one day, and you want to move your lessons along quickly, but hear me out…

With kindergarten number talks, the MOST important part of allowing the kids time to explain their reasoning.

Even if they are wrong with their initial response, DO NOT tell them “no”.  Instead, ask the kiddos questions such as:

  • “How do you know?”
  • “How did you solve that problem?”
  • “Can you come up and show us how your figured it out?”
  • “What would happen if you…?”
  • “Does anyone have a different answer they’d like to share?”
  • “Does anyone come up with the same answer, but figured it out in a different way?

Examples of Open Ended Questions for Number Talks

Open ended questions have more than one answer.

According to Model Teaching, the purpose of open-ended number problems is… “to solve problems and understand that some problems can be solved in many ways, with many outcomes.”

The card above, found in our Daily Math Talk Cards, is a great example of an open-ended question, because there are multiple view points that can be discussed.

Questions like these allow you to quickly assess where the kids are with their number and problem solving skills. 

Simply by asking “What can you tell me about these bears?”,  the kids have the freedom to talk about what want. The counting bears range in size, color, and quantity.  You will see in the video below that some kids talk about color comparison, while others notice size comparison.

How To Use the Math Talks

Print off the Daily Math Talk Cards to keep near your easel, or on your math wall, and keep the PDF on your classroom computer.  By keeping the pdf on your computer, you will have access to display the slides on your smart board.

In a large group setting, you can display the kindergarten number talk cards on a smart board, which will allow students to see the problem more clearly.  This is a great option for the cards that have graphics incorporated into the activity/question.

Our Preschool, Kindergarten, First Grade, and Second Grade Number Talks have both printable cards and digital slides for remote learning.

Below is a video of Beth leading her kids in a math talks lesson.  She is a kindergarten teacher in NE Ohio, and has kindly agreed to share her lesson with us.

Are you ready to get your kids fully engaged in number talks?  If so, check out the monthly collections HERE.

Before you go, here are a few blog posts you may enjoy:

20 Basics of a Kindergarten Classroom

75 Best Yes and No Questions for Kids

Benefits of Math Talks with Kids

Math Talks