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Number Stories!

May 19, 2021 | Kristen Jordan

After telling number stories verbally for many days and using glass beads to represent the subject of the stories, children in the Trees Classroom have been recording their number stories in the form of books! 

First, children first must decide what they want their story to be about.  Snails? Crackers? Kids?

Then, they begin the process of telling the story. 

They must decide how many objects the story starts with.  

“There were 10 fish in my grandmother’s pond.”

They use beads and a “10 frame” (10 boxes) to count out the number of objects.  Having something concrete to move and count helps children to think more concretely about the numbers.   

The next decision to make: Is the number of objects going to get bigger or smaller?  And what is the narrative that will cause that to happen?

“2 fish jumped out.”

Finally, they must ask the question, “HOW MANY ARE THERE ALL TOGETHER?” 

“8 fish were left in the pond.”

Children use the beads to help represent the story with real objects and then they begin drawing pictures to show each part of the story.  In the process of recording these tales in pictures, children get experience counting and writing numbers.  They think about how amounts might change.  They create a narrative complete with characters, setting, plot, sometimes a problem and solution, title, author, and sometimes letters.  It’s literacy and math work all combined in one! 

We sometimes tell number stories during snack.  

“I had 5 goldfish.  My friend had 5 goldfish.  How many were there all together?  We ate 5.  How many were left?”

This work is the  beginning of mathematical operations and expressions; putting numbers together or taking numbers away to result in a different number (most of the time).  Children are using addition and subtraction as they tell their number stories. Combining or taking away amounts is a practice and a concept that we use all the time in our everyday lives.

I encourage you at home to practice telling number stories when you can, using real-life situations.  “I have 5 markers.  If I give one to you and one to your sister, how many will I have left?” Acting stories out or saying them verbally helps the process of thinking about the changes in amounts.  

What number stories did you tell today?

Kristen Jordan

Teacher, Rivers Class

Kristen Jordan began helping at Mustard Seed School in 2006, after her daughter had been a student in the preschool. She substituted for many years in all grades; in 2011, she returned to the classroom and has been a teacher in The Nest ever since.

Prior to the birth of her daughter Clara, in 2002, Ms. Jordan worked in Brooklyn as a first grade teacher with the New York City Public Schools. During this time, her school collaborated with the Brooklyn Museum, and this work helped Ms. Jordan develop a real interest in the parallels between the process of making art and the process of writing in the classroom. She thoroughly enjoys teaching both art and literacy to preschoolers.

Ms Jordan’s background includes work with the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. While at Teachers College, she trained with esteemed educator and author Lucy Calkins. Early in her teaching career, Ms. Jordan did not think that she wanted to teach very young children but her view has changed! She now really enjoys and takes great interest in young children and their development.

Ms. Jordan enjoys reading, working out, hiking, cooking, and spending time with her daughter and family. Although she has lived on the East Coast for a very long time, as a native of Oregon, she really loves the mountains!

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