The more math talks I do with kids, the more I am finding them rewarding. During our kindergarten math talks, I accept any answer and over time more and more students are participating in our conversation. Recently, we have been talking, and learning about shapes. Today I used 5 felt shapes: square, diamond, circle, triangle and a trapezoid. I love the fact that the shapes, and board, are huge! It keeps students attention because the shapes were so clear and they are immediately drawn to it. (I made the board from a large sheet of plywood covered in felt.)
I showed students the shapes and asked them to think about which shape doesn’t belong. They then gave me a thumbs up on their chest when they had thought of an answer. Once most students were giving me a thumbs up, I then started asking students to share their thoughts.
I got lots of answers! I always encourage students to use the word “because” in their answer. By using this word their answer becomes more higher level and tells us more about their thinking.
Many students felt that the circle was the one that was different than the rest: “I think that the circle doesn’t belong, because it doesn’t have any corners or straight sides.” Others felt that the triangle didn’t belong “because it is the only shape that has 3 sides.” Some students even felt that the diamond (rhombus) didn’t belong because it was smaller than the rest. I moved the diamond on top of the other shapes and we discovered that it did appear to be the smallest.
One of the biggest benefits that I find with math talks is that I get to hear students initial thoughts. I also find that there are always a few ideas shared that I may not have discussed if the activity was teacher led. These talks serve as a great, quick, introduction to every math period.