Just when I think that the year is coming to an end, and all the outstanding math is coming to a close….one teacher always surprises me. Mrs. Z is at it again….being an exceptional kindergarten teacher. She’s tackled the 3 Act lesson, she’s mastered the 100’s chart, and now has been experimenting with numberless word problems. She had taken a particular interest in them after I had introduced them to her through Brian Bushart’s blog. Mrs. Z’s work is always intriguing and I’m always thrilled to be invited to watch.

On the first day of her new venture with a numberless word problem…Mrs. Z created her own and posted this..

First Mrs. Z posed the question “What’s a numberless word problem?” The students quickly raised their hands and answered “words turn into a problem”, “something you have to read,” and “no numbers.” Mrs. Z went on to explain how she was going to be telling a story and that they had to figure out the missing parts.

She had the students close their eyes as she read the story to them. She then had them discuss what they had pictured in their heads with their partners. Next they discussed as a whole class what they envisioned. Once everyone had a picture of what was happening, Mrs. Z started asking the class what good numbers they could use. As you can see in the pictures below, the students came up with different combinations of numbers to add. They also proved how they could add them up.

One student tried to answer “TWENTY HUNDRED MILLION!” Mrs. Z calmly replied “that many would not fit in my yard.”

After finishing her circle map of possible answers, she had the students try their own. And this is what they came up with. Love seeing them verifying their answers at such a young, impressionable age.

Mrs. Z was completely thrilled with the results as was I. She asked me for feedback, and the only thing I could think of was to try giving them an answer to work with and seeing what combinations they came up with. Would they work with number bonds, manipulatives, or draw out their answers?

A few days later, she wanted to try again and invited me in to watch. Here’s what she first posted.

First, Mrs. Z started with notice and wonder.

**Notice** – It’s about cookies. I see sight words.

**Wonder **– What kind of cookies were there? Did he get sick?

She once again practiced with different combinations that make up 12 cookies. They even discussed whether or not zero cookies were eaten on Monday and 12 cookies were eaten on Tuesday.

One student wanted to come up and show the class how he counts his numbers together. All the students had a turn showing Mrs Z. what combinations make up 12 using unifix cubes.

Next the students were given a similar problem about more cookies eaten by George. This time he gorged on 18 cookies. They were asked to find out all the possible combinations of 18 as they could.

They were given unifix cubes to start with. This table decided to first count their cubes to 18 and compare (to make sure they were all the same).

Once they counted out their cubes, the kiddos got to work. The table I sat at needed help, so I engaged them a bit. I told them to close their eyes and break their stack of cubes. After they opened their eyes, they counted their two stacks of cubes.

The highlight of my two days with kindergarten was one sprightly pony-tailed girl named Lauren. She ran up to me after she had finished her work and proclaims “PICTURE TIME!” I nearly fell out of my chair in laughter. (Do you think the kids know me or what?!?!)

Until next time,

keep smiling & keep laughing!

Kristen