The image above was shared with me on Instagram (wait, you didn't know I started an Instagram account?! Check it out now!) by Ben Cogswell and the caption he included was one I just had to share (with his permission, of course):
Waiting for lunch discussing what makes this number special? 9 year old: use fractions to make this number. 7 year old: make this number with 3 addends. 4 year old: Make 7 on your fingers then make 10!
I love it. With such an open prompt and one that was literally placed onto his table, Ben and his kids engaged in an appropriately-leveled task with each one of his kids. All are at different stages of their numeracy journey, yet they all were able to access the prompt he put forth. And yes, for those asking, Ben was sent a fresh signed copy of Table Talk Math :)
When doing this with my students, I would put the "day" value of the date onto the whiteboard and have students come up with as many interesting expressions that equal that number in 60 seconds. For example, if today were August 10th, the number on the board would be 10 and I might get:
(11+9) * 5 - 90
10 + 0
...and a bunch of others
The point here is that I am giving you the solution and you are being tasked with giving me the problem. No matter how old your child is, this is an idea you can use and it's also a great way to pass the time as you're waiting for that meal out as a family. Try it out! Ben isn't the only one getting a signed copy of the book; take a picture of the number, along with the problem and your child's work to prove that it's correct, and I'll pick one reply to get a signed copy of Table Talk Math.
It's that easy!
Things to encourage:
If--WHEN--there are incorrect answers, leave them until all expressions have been shared. Then, when everyone has had a turn, come back to the incorrect one and ask to go through it together.
"Now that we have done this and realize that it isn't quite 17, what can we do to the existing problem to make it true?"
By going in and correcting your child's work, you are making it less inviting to try again. On the contrary, building on top of the work that you notice together provides an opportunity to fix an incorrect response and make it more complex than original. This naturally empowers the child to try again and gives you a good basis of conversation.
Try it out! What number did you show to your child (or your child show to you) and what expressions did you come up with? Reply to this email, Tweet it out to me, or share it on Facebook and tag Table Talk Math.
Thanks for joining the Table! If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me on Twitter (@TableTalkMath) or comment below. Be sure to have your friends sign up for the newsletter at tabletalkmath.com for weekly updates.
Thank you for taking the time to improve math fluency for children, one table talk conversation at a time.