What do the Math Practices Look Like in Kindergarten?

Standards for Mathematical Practice
Explanations and Examples

1. Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
Mathematically proficient students in Kindergarten begin to develop effective dispositions toward problem solving. In rich settings in which informal and formal possibilities for solving problems are numerous, young children develop the ability to focus attention, test hypotheses, take reasonable risks, remain flexible, try alternatives, exhibit self-regulation, and persevere (Copley, 2010). Using both verbal and nonverbal means, kindergarten students begin to explain to themselves and others the meaning of a problem, look for ways to solve it, and determine if their thinking makes sense or if another strategy is needed. As the teacher uses thoughtful questioning and provides opportunities for students to share thinking, kindergarten students begin to reason as they become more conscious of what they know and how they solve problems.

2. Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
Mathematically proficient students in Kindergarten begin to use numerals to represent specific amount (quantity). For example, a student may write the numeral “11” to represent an amount of objects counted, select the correct number card “17” to follow “16” on the calendar, or build a pile of counters depending on the number drawn. In addition, kindergarten students begin to draw pictures, manipulate objects, use diagrams or charts, etc. to express quantitative ideas such as a joining situation (Mary has 3 bears. Juanita gave her 1 more bear. How many bears does Mary have altogether?), or a separating situation (Mary had 5 bears. She gave some to Juanita. Now she has 3 bears. How many bears did Mary give Juanita?). Using the language developed through numerous joining and separating scenarios, kindergarten students begin to understand how symbols (+, -, =) are used to represent quantitative ideas in a written format.

3. Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
In Kindergarten, mathematically proficient students begin to clearly express, explain, organize and consolidate their math thinking using both verbal and written representations. Through opportunities that encourage exploration, discovery, and discussion, kindergarten students begin to learn how to express opinions, become skillful at listening to others, describe their reasoning and respond to others’ thinking and reasoning. They begin to develop the ability to reason and analyze situations as they consider questions such as, “Are you sure…?” , “Do you think that would happen all the time…?”, and “I wonder why…?”

4. Model with mathematics.
Mathematically proficient students in Kindergarten begin to experiment with representing real-life problem situations in multiple ways such as with numbers, words (mathematical language), drawings, objects, acting out, charts, lists, and number sentences. For example, when making toothpick designs to represent the various combinations of the number “5”, the student writes the numerals for the various parts (such as “4” and “1”) or selects a number sentence that represents that particular situation (such as 5 = 4 + 1)*.

*According to CCSS, “Kindergarten students should see addition and subtraction equations, and student writing of equations in kindergarten in encouraged, but it is not required”. However, please note that it is not until First Grade when “Understand the meaning of the equal sign” is an expectation (1.OA.7).

5. Use appropriate tools strategically.
In Kindergarten, mathematically proficient students begin to explore various tools and use them to investigate mathematical concepts. Through multiple opportunities to examine materials, they experiment and use both concrete materials (e.g. 3- dimensional solids, connecting cubes, ten frames, number balances) and technological materials (e.g., virtual manipulatives, calculators, interactive websites) to explore mathematical concepts. Based on these experiences, they become able to decide which tools may be helpful to use depending on the problem or task. For example, when solving the problem, “There are 4 dogs in the park. 3 more dogs show up in the park. How many dogs are in the park?”, students may decide to act it out using counters and a story mat; draw a picture; or use a handful of cubes.

6. Attend to precision.
Mathematically proficient students in Kindergarten begin to express their ideas and reasoning using words. As their mathematical vocabulary increases due to exposure, modeling, and practice, kindergarteners become more precise in their communication, calculations, and measurements. In all types of mathematical tasks, students begin to describe their actions and strategies more clearly, understand and use grade-level appropriate vocabulary accurately, and begin to give precise explanations and reasoning regarding their process of finding solutions. For example, a student may use color words (such as blue, green, light blue) and descriptive words (such as small, big, rough, smooth) to accurately describe how a collection of buttons is sorted.

7. Look for and make use of structure.
Mathematically proficient students in Kindergarten begin to look for patterns and structures in the number system and other areas of mathematics. For example, when searching for triangles around the room, kindergarteners begin to notice that some triangles are larger than others or come in different colors- yet they are all triangles. While exploring the part-whole relationships of a number using a number balance, students begin to realize that 5 can be broken down into sub-parts, such as 4 and 1 or 4 and 2, and still remain a total of 5.

8. Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.
In Kindergarten, mathematically proficient students begin to notice repetitive actions in geometry, counting, comparing, etc. For example, a kindergartener may notice that as the number of sides increase on a shape, a new shape is created (triangle has 3 sides, a rectangle has 4 sides, a pentagon has 5 sides, a hexagon has 6 sides). When counting out loud to 100, kindergartners may recognize the pattern 1-9 being repeated for each decade (e.g., Seventy-ONE, Seventy-TWO, Seventy- THREE… Eighty-ONE, Eighty-TWO, Eighty-THREE…). When joining one more cube to a pile, the child may realize that the new amount is the next number in the count sequence.