Sunday, September 20, 2015

Math Without Numerals

     This year, my school is working with Math Perspective's Kathy Richardson to ensure that all of our students are thinking and reasoning mathematically. (Kathy Richardson developed the idea of  "Number Talks.") Today I want to talk about how Kathy's approach is changing instruction in my own classroom! 
     In her professional development session and books, Kathy reiterates the importance of developing number sense. I have always known that it was important to teach quantities before rote counting or numerals. In the past, I began math instruction in my classroom by teaching the concept of one. For example, I might drop a counter into a coffee cup and count "one" aloud to my students, I would have students repeat the activity. We would count out one of different objects, clap once, etc. and I would introduce the numeral 1 toward the end of the lesson. Kathy Richardson believes that students should not begin learning numerals until they can successfully touch and count objects to ten! So here we are at the end of September... and I am yet to formally introduce numerals. I am excited to see how this change in my instructional practice impacts learning in my classroom. 
   I'm embarrassed to even admit this, but the first thing I thought when I made this switch to no numerals (until late September)...... What are my kiddos going to work on in math centers? I figured it out pretty quickly and I wanted to share with you where I have started with my little ones in math center this year.

    My students work on differentiated activities with mixed ability partners in math centers. I place 1 high, 1 mid, 1 low student in a group together. These groups are posted on my blue chart and the numbers let them know where they are working/ what they are working with. I group students by ability on the colored papers above my chart. Students work on the same activity, but work with different quantities based on their ability group.  Here's what my kids have been up to... 

Dough Center

Cars Center

Roll-a-Tower Center

 Count and Graph Center

I did not differentiate this center, because I took it for a grade... but we will begin working with the other levels soon! 

Show Me Center

     I LOVE this center activity! It is perfect, because many of my students were able to touch and count to ten but needed practice counting out a given number of objects. I have been utilizing this activity at my small group table. The different manipulatives keep my kids engaged! Soon it will move to centers. I have black and white cards ready to print on orange, green, and purple cardstock so that I can differentiate the quantities my students will work with. 

Roll and Color Center

I did not differentiate this activity, because I noticed that ALL of my students needed to touch and count the dots on the dice. I wanted all students to learn to recognize the die faces without counting! You can click on the pic to grab this and the early finisher puzzles for FREE! 

     I am so thrilled to report that ALL of my littles are working successfully with these math centers! Sometimes they get off task, but they are quickly learning that it is more fun to use center activities appropriately than it is to spend center time practicing writing their names. In the past, I have always had at least 1 student who struggled in math centers because they weren't yet recognizing numerals...and most of my math centers involved some kind of numeral work.

     I taught my students to touch and count to ten at the beginning of August. We spent some time working on other skills after (counting to 20, sorting, adding, etc.), so that I could give my struggling students some extra time to perfect counting to 10. This week we will begin working with numerals! Switching centers should be a breeze because I created them with a natural progression in mind! 

You can find these math centers in my TPT shop by clicking the pictures below! 


You can read more about my math centers here: 


  1. My daughter is very happy and learning a lot of new things as she shares with me everyday the things she has learned from her class. I, being an online essay writer always admire her and write her what she is saying and will show her when she gets old.