As a math teacher, I understand and enjoy the importance of building mathematical reasoning skills and a strong number sense. I try every day to share this with my students in class. I’m also a parent, so I get to share this with my kids at home as well. Luckily, my interactions with the MTBoS online community provided me the opportunity to connect with Christopher Danielson and his work regarding talking math with kids. As a parent, I want to give my children every opportunity to be successful with their learning, and making it a point to engage in mathematical talks with my three-year old daughter has been a very satisfying experience.
Meet Callie, my daughter.
I thought it’d be nice for you all to put a face with the name. Plus, regardless of my inherent bias, I think she’s pretty cute. Anyway, Callie and I like to talk about numbers, different ways we use numbers, and the sizes of numbers. She is currently fixated on the number and quantity of 3 because, of course, she’s three years old. For example, if I ask her how much of something she wants (cookies, stickers, etc.), she defaults to “3, because I’m three years old!” I’m trying to get her thinking about different sizes of numbers (quantities), thus being able to compare and order them. Following is a conversation Callie and I had, which gives a glimpse as to where she currently is in her understanding of numbers, quantities, and sizes. I’ll be updating this adventure in future posts as we progress with our understandings.
Me: Callie, finish up your game. You have to go to bed in 20 minutes.
Callie: How about I go to bed in a hundred minutes?
Me: 100 minutes is too many. It would be much too late for you to go to bed.
Callie: Then how about 10 minutes?
Me: Would you rather go to bed in 10 minutes or 20 minutes? Which do you think is longer?
Callie: Oh. 20 minutes.
Me: Is there another amount of minutes that’d you prefer?
Callie: 30 minutes.
Me: Why is that?
Callie: Because 30 is bigger than 20.
Me: How do you know that?
Callie: Because 30 is the biggest number in the world!
Me: Are you sure? Can you count past 30?
Callie: 31, 32, 33…
At this point, I felt the conversation heading off to goofy-sleepy land, so I made a note to revisit this soon. I think our next conversation will use a unit other than time to see if their are different results.
These conversations with my daughter have made me reflect on why I enjoy being a teacher: I like talking math with kids.