At the beginning of each math period, I try to start with a quick math/number talk. It is a great way to quickly get kids thinking about numbers and math concepts. I love the discussion that they create and the thinking and learning that occurs. For our number talk today, I mixed in our activity from earlier in the day (our science experiment with balloons) into our number talk. I blew up 5 balloons and put them in a clear container.
I then had students tell how many balloons they counted in the jar and how they figured it out. This may sound really simple, but this is why number talks are so valuable – because of the different answers/strategies you will get. Many children counted with their finger in the air to solve how many there are. Other students shared that they counted 3 blue balloons and then 2 red balloons and they knew that equaled 5 balloons in total! I intentionally only put 2 colours of balloons in the container in hopes that a few students would count in this way. Other students noticed that there were 2 balloons on top and 3 on the bottom and then they got to 5. Regardless of how children come to the number, the idea that they can explain how they got there is what is important. As students answer, and share their strategies, the rest of the class listens and learns and hopefully uses their peers ideas the next time they are solving a similar problem.