Number Talks for Math Warm-Ups pre-K-5

Number Talks are a powerful way to develop both number sense and computational fluency.  There is no prep involved for the teacher, making it a perfect math warm-up for a busy math block.  This post will share universal procedures and practices for getting the most out of number talks for math warm-ups pre-K-5.

A Number Talk is a five- to fifteen-minute discussion in which students verbally share their mathematical thinking as the teacher records the process on the board for everyone to see. They provide structured practice for mental math and promote the value in using mental math to compute. Number Talks teach the importance of being flexible with numbers and using a variety of strategies for computation.   

-Sherry Parrish Number Talks: Helping Children Build Mental Math and Computation Strategies K-5

Number Talks for Math Warm-Ups pre-K-5

First, let’s discuss some universal procedures for engaging in a number talk no matter the grade level of students.  Students are gathered together in front of the board or screen to view a visual prompt.

The teacher displays the prompt, and students begin thinking about how to solve it.  They come to an answer, but they also know they had a procedure for getting there or used a strategy to compute mentally.  During this time, the class is quietly processing, and students utilize the universal hand signals for math talks.

number talks for math warm-ups k-5

Once most of the students have the signal against their chest showing they have an answer or multiple strategies for an answer, the teacher begins the discussion.

First, the teacher will take answers for the problem from all students. All answers are considered probable at this point. If there is more than one answer shared, the teacher lists them on the board to refer back to for checking thinking.

Next, the teacher will call on students to share the problem-solving strategy. While the students are sharing, the teacher records the solution method on the board or screen.  Even if the strategy is incorrect, it is a valuable part of the process and is recorded.

Number Talks K-5

As the class continues this process, students agree, add to, and revise their thinking in the meaningful and safe learning environment established through this routine.

Resources for Math Talks pre-K-5

Below are resources ranging from pre-K to fifth grade for number talks. Each focuses on being flexible with numbers and having a variety of strategies for computation.  Even though a certain grade level band is highlighted, it is okay to explore what would best fit your students’ needs, even if out of the indicated grade levels.

Number Talks Numbers 1-10 For Grades PK-1

First, we begin with number representations for 0-10.  This allows students to build meaning and understanding around a number and a value.  It also opens the door to seeing number relationships.  First, an example is provided, followed by some of the different slides students would interact with.


Number Talks for math warm-ups K-5

Number Talks Same or Different for Grades K-1

Number Talks Same or Different expands to a greater range of numbers, skills, and concepts.  Students will identify what they know about each representation and then share how they are the same or different.


Number Talks Strategies for Solving Grades 2-3

Moving into grades 2-3, Number Talks Strategies for Solving continues the learning through even more opportunities for open-ended math discussions.

Number Talks Strategies for Solving Grades 3-5

Continuing our complexity of concepts, Number Talks Strategies for Solving Grades 3-5, students focus on multiplication and division concepts, models, and problem-solving.  From there, things expand into place value, decimals, area, perimeter, volume, fractions, lines and angles, geometry, and algebraic reasoning.  This set of number talks has 165 slides of learning!

More Math Warm-Ups For K-5

This post will find fun alliteration math warm-up ideas for all grade levels.  Digital Math Warm-Ups


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