I did this lesson with balls, and got so many answers:
"I just know."
"Because I'm smart."
"Because there ARE three."
"It was in my brain."
"I'm ready for grade one."
"My eyes told me."
I was searching for the response that suggested my students could EXPLAIN their thinking. Ultimately one little girl told me:
"I counted them"
It was then that I gasped dramatically and my little ones got so excited. It took, literally ten minutes to get to this answer. I explained that I needed them to pretend that I didn't know ANYTHING at all ... that I had never HEARD of "three" before and they had to explain it to me.
Ultimately, we figured out that visible thinking is taking our thoughts out of our head so that other people can see them. NO, we aren't pulling our thoughts out through any holes (as one suggested)... but we ARE sharing them with others through writing, drawing, dramatizing or creating.
Here is the chart we came up with!