Kindergarten: Numberless Problems

Last week, the kindergarten students solved a problem about Jack and his building blocks. It went something like this:

Jack was building with blocks. He used 4 blocks to build a wall and 2 blocks to build a bridge. How many blocks did Jack use altogether?  

The teachers posed the problem without the question, did a notice/wonder, and then gave the students time to answer how many blocks altogether. We looked at this student work in our planning for their upcoming lesson.

We were curious to see what the students would do without the numbers in the problem, so we planned for a numberless story problem during last week’s Learning Lab. Three kindergarten teachers and I had a chance to be in the same room to see it in action today.

Nicole, the teacher, posed the following story to her students:

Susie is building with blocks. She used some blocks to build a wall. She used some blocks to build a bridge. 

She asked the students what they noticed/wondered and the very first notice was there were no numbers to tell us how many blocks, awesome. They did some wondering about how many blocks she used and compared this story to Jack’s building from last week.

We planned to have the students choose the number of blocks they wanted Susie to use in her building and then find how many she used altogether. Their number choices were so interesting and left me wondering when students begin to explain the usefulness of 10? I know some of them know 10 is a great number to add after the activity today, but I am wondering the questions to ask to make it clear to them because they just “know it.”

Here were some examples of their work…so much cooler than 4+2 in Jack’s problem!

5 thoughts on “Kindergarten: Numberless Problems

  1. Pingback: I Notice, I Wonder | Just MSU

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  4. Jenn

    So exciting to see the success that kindergarten students are having with numberless word problems and notice/wonder!

    Have you used numberless word problems and notice/wonder with multi-step word problems? If so, do you have any suggestions or modifications to share? Thanks for sharing your insight 🙂


  5. Pingback: Numberless Word Problems - Stress Free Math for Kids

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