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How To Do Math Talks in Kindergarten
Over the past few years, there has been a push for math talks in kindergarten. Rightfully so, kindergarten math talks are the foundation to understanding math. Long are the days of quiet, worksheet driven, math instruction. Instead, kids are now encouraged to explore, reason, and engage in kindergarten math talks.
What are Daily Math Talks
Also known as number talks, these 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, the teacher, are given an invaluable opportunity to assess the students true understanding of mathematics.
How To Start Math Talks
When starting, set aside a short time frame (10-20 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:
- Establish rules for number talks.
- Keep number talks short.
- Ask open-ended questions.
- Question rather than correct.
- Provide clear visuals.
What Questions To Ask During Math 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?
Get free math talks and tips to help you get started today!
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 my 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.
Whether in a small group with 3-5 students, on the carpet for a whole class lesson, or to implement during transitions, there are several ways you can display your number talk cards. 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.
My Kindergarten and First Grade Math Talks have both printable cards and digital slides for remote learning.
Kindergarten Daily Math Talk reviews:
- Great resource, so many awesome conversations. – Nicole K.
- Thank you! What a quick way to squeeze in some skills and incorporate quality math talk! – Nancy S.
- Great little questions to get minds-on. Thank you! – Suneela M.
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