Talking Math With Kids

I greatly admire and appreciate the work of Christopher Danielson to support parents in having mathematical conversations with their children. If you have children, or if you know someone who has children, I recommend these resources and blog posts to demonstrate how easy, natural, and fun it can be to engage mathematically with children.

  • Talking Math With Your Kids – This is Christopher’s site and the first place I send folks to explore this topic. I especially love the structure of his blog posts. He starts by sharing a snippet of a conversation with one or both of his children. Then he follows up with what we can learn about the children and their mathematical ideas from this conversation, and he closes with ideas for starting a similar conversation with your own children.
  • Table Talk Math – As a nice follow up to Christopher’s site, I recommend this FREE newsletter from John Stevens. Each week you’ll get ideas for mathematical conversations you can have at home with your children. The newsletter, and its numerous guest contributors, does a great job of highlighting topics/questions to entice children of a variety of ages. You can even browse past newsletters if you’re too excited to wait for next week’s newsletter. You might even check out the one that I wrote about counting on your fingers.
  • How To Talk Math With Your Kids – In this video, educator Kent Haines shares three easy-to-follow guidelines to help parents talk about math with their children. You should also take a look at Kent’s blog which often includes posts about talking math with kids. His most recent post is a review of the fantastic card game Tiny Polka Dot.
  • Ever Wonder What They’d Notice? (If Only Someone Would Ask) – In this short talk by Annie Fetter from the Math Forum, she shares how we can talk to our kids to make them think by asking two simple questions, “What do you notice? What do you wonder?”
  • Who Does Mathematics? – In this video, Christopher Danielson shares a wonderful conversation with his daughter that illustrates how doing mathematics means that children can ask and answer questions at the forefront of their own knowledge.
  • Batteries – In this short blog post, Christopher Danielson uses an example of batteries to help us see the mathematics in everyday life. The activity he describes is the subject of a beautiful book from Stenhouse called Which One Doesn’t Belong? It’s sure to spark some interesting conversations.
  • #tmwyk – If you want to read about others’ stories about talking math with their kids (and possibly contribute your own!) check out this hashtag on Twitter.

In addition to the amazing resources linked above, I’ve tried to do my part to contribute to the conversation:

  • @SplashSpeaks – Two years ago I started a Twitter account in the voice of my daughter. She’s too young so I do the tweeting. I use it as a way to capture conversations we have, often but not always about math.
  • Putting Away Blocks – When my daughter was young, I was continually fascinated watching her put away blocks. Without any guidance from me, her strategy for putting them away became increasingly sophisticated. It was so fascinating to watch!
  • Two Cats and Two Tortoise – In this post I shared my daughter’s mathematical explorations of some picture cards she got from one of my co-workers.
  • Counting Down to the Weekend – My daughter totally surprised me one day as we had a conversation about whether or not it was the weekend. One of the benefits of talking math with your kids is the joy in hearing them make a mathematical insight that was completely unexpected.
  • We Can Make Shapes – This post recounts another surprising conversation I had with my daughter where she realized she can make shapes on the tile floor using her body. I can’t tell you how delightful it is to have these conversations with her.