Book Review: Table Talk Math

It seems that on any given week, you can find a newly published book by Dave Burgess Consulting. The books from this publishing team continue to shape my leadership and are my go-to recommendations for staff and families. When “Table Talk Math” was released, it immediately found its way to my Amazon Cart (which is constantly filled with books!)

As I worked on filling Easter baskets for my family, I decided that “Table Talk Math” was my Easter Basket filler and I’m glad I now have it in my professional library. Ironically, the author talks about Easter Egg hunts as an opportunity to embed math in your conversations with kids in the book! Just think of all the ways jelly beans, Easter Eggs and Jelly Beans can be applied to mathematical practices and reasoning!
What’s more important about this book, is that it fits the need that many books don’t. It provides teachers valuable tools, but even more, it provides relevant and meaningful ways for parents to support mathematics conversations with their students that aren’t focused on standards, but rather the essential mathematical practices that are vital in the development of mathematical thinkers and problem solvers.


Math can be a difficult content area for parents to support their children in. There are many strategies and intricacies about teaching math concepts in the school setting, but this book transcends past that. This book provides concrete strategies, questions, ideas and supports for teachers and parents to talk to kids about math and support the development of mathematical thinkers in the home and classrooms.


The author of the book focuses on a major claim: Math is for EVERYONE. All parents and teachers have something to offer children in their development of mathematical thinking and problem-solving. Educators and parents alike have the ability to foster confidence and perseverance in our children and students via the avenue of our communication and conversations with kids.

The author focuses on five pillars for starting mathematical conversations with kids:

  1. Make it Casual
  2. Make it Meaningful
  3. Make it Authentic
  4. Make it Applicable
  5. Make it Short

What stood out to me was the author’s claim that “the highest achievers in the world are those who focus on big ideas in mathematics and the connections between ideas.”

Some simple strategies for engaging kids in these conversations to support making connections include:

  1. Using daily events to ask math “Would You Rather Questions”
  2. Allow children to make estimations and predictions about possible outcomes in events, situations and with objects around their homes and classrooms
  3. Point out and/or ask kids to find patterns in daily routines and objects
  4. Ask children to identify and justify their answer to objects that do not belong to a group or set of standards.
  5. Use challenges to engage kids in the process and understand representation to develop curiosity and wonder.
  6. Distinguish between noticing a mathematical idea and wondering about a mathematical concepts. How can observation and questioning work together to develop critical thinking and spark conversations?

Various resources were also provided for teachers and parents to reference:

Which One Doesn’t Belong

Fraction Talks

Math Munch

Bedtime Math

And… as the author points out, remember… “Be patient. There is value in letting your child struggle through a few steps.” Through challenges and bumps in the road, children learn grit, perseverance and how to overcome adversity and challenges. “There will always be opportunities to bring math to the table regardless of the age or skill level of the child.”

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