Sunday, July 1, 2012

Rekenreks and Number Talks Help Build Mental Math

Just in case you didn't get a chance to hop over to Erin's blog for the Blog Swap and Hop...thought I'd re-post here....

Have you ever heard of "Number Talks"?

I've been a using Number Talks for the past year and become a big fan of this wonderful technique to get kids talking about math.  Listening to my kiddos as they talked about the different card patterns really gave me an understanding of what they "thought" about numbers and helped me see the ways they used strategies to create numbers.

I devoured the book by Sherry Parrish:
Number Talks:  Helping Children Build Mental Math and Computation Strategies
which gave me a ton of information and ideas on how to use the number talks in my class.  The book came with a dvd of how number talks are conducted in different classrooms and was very helpful!  You can also find number talk examples on YouTube if you search for the keywords: number talks.

Sherry talks about using dot images, rekenreks, double ten-frames, and number sentences to guide the number talks for different addition strategies...("Counting All and Counting On"..."Double or Near Doubles"...and my personal favorite "Making Tens").

Dot image cards are easy to create using those cool bingo dot stamp bottles or brightly colored round stickers you can find in Walmart, Target, or an Office Supply Store.  I used the largest index cards (I think they were 5X7) and created the dot images that Sherry suggests in the book.  I labeled the cards in subsets of A, B,C....etc and then each subset had 3 cards to look at in one number talk...A-1, A-2, A-3....I punched a hole in the set of cards A-1 through I-3 and then hung them on a hook near the area where we conducted read alouds....whole group games...(in other words my "meeting area")...or as we like to say in the South "the meetin' area :)

I also created a powerpoint slide show of the dot images so that if we had some "down time" and the projector was going, I could flash some images and see what they thought...

Sherry suggests using 3-5 cards or images during a number talk time and asking the questions:
"How many _____ do you see?  How do you see them?"

Double Ten-Frames are something I use with my calendar.  I have the kids use coins to fill in the frames as we add another day....I have 2 ten frames on the the beginning of the year we just use dots to fill in the ten frames as the days go by...then we use nickels....then move up to dimes...for the final quarter I'll have the kids fill thef first ten frame with dimes and the second with nickels... somewhere towards the end of the year we add a third frame and use pennies...

I created a powerpoint for all the double ten-frame sets recommended in Sherry's book to use with the projector....I think I'll go ahead and print the slides onto cardstock, laminate, and ring together to keep at the "meetin' area" to use with the number talks this year.

My mom and dad created Rekenreks using bamboo skewers, pony beads, and small  blocks of wood from my dad's woodshop.  The kids enjoyed using these small versions of the rekenreks to solve problems and work out story problems.

 I created a couple of PowerPoint shows to use with the Rekenreks Sherry talks about in her book...there's also a great app called " Number Rack" that I use with the kids...

You can manipulate the amount of bead rows you show as well as open a large mystery box to cover some of the beads and ask how many do you see? many are covered?

 You can even add as more than one line of beads to help practice with the double digits.

Number Talks has been a great addition into my math program.  It allows the kids to use "Math Talk" and explain to each other what they see and how they see it.

Click HERE for a download of the Rekenrek Powerpoint I created to use with the Number Talks this year.  I hope it goes as well as the iPad app did last year :) You can also get the download of the powerpoint by click on the picture below!

Thanks again to Erin for letting me guest post today!! 
Hope you are having a wonderful day!

Be sure to hop over to some of the other blogs that are sharing this wonderful day and if you get a chance...hop by the "swamp" sometime!

Check out all the other blogs that are participating in the TT Blog Swap and Hop :)


  1. Love Number Talks!! I especially love the Power Point! Here's a link to a post I did in September about Number Talks in my classroom:

    Thanks for sharing!
    Ms. A
    Oceans of First Grade Fun

  2. Thank you for sharing this! I wanted to read this book, but I couldn't justify the purchase to my hubby.


  3. Thanks for sharing your post!!!!
    I love your "Guess the Number"
    Can't wait to continue using these for next year!

  4. Thanks for sharing this post! I've never heard of this so I will definitely need to go check this book out. It sounds like a great book!
    Sarah's First Grade Snippets

  5. Hi Heidi - reading comp... so important and so many great books out there on it. I just posted an item on tpt regarding it. You should swing by my blog when you get a chance and link up. Tell us all about your summer or what you have coming, products you have made anything you like. :o)
    Traditions, Laughter and Happily Ever After