Math and literature
How does combining math and literature help children?How can children's literature strengthen your math program?
Literature can enhance children's awareness of measurement, geometry, numbers and number computation, fractions, classifying, patterns, symmetry, problem solving, reasoning, estimation and more.
Reading literature that presents math problems and concepts as well as clear illustrations can motivate students by:
- helping them connect mathematical ideas to their own experiences
- preparing students for a new math concept or skill
- helping students understand a math skill or concept you are presently teaching
- reviewing math skills and concepts already taught
Books are an inexpensive resource
In the grand scheme of educational resources, books are fairly inexpensive. Use them not only to teach math, but to connect to numerous other subject areas as well. Not only will your students hear a great story, they learn math and other concepts at the same time.
Literature can increase mathematical thinking
Math and literature are a great combination. Many books increase mathematical thinking. Children's literature provides a great jumping off place for math activities. When you are familiar with the math skills early learners are working towards understanding, it is easy to identify books that complement the skill you would like to emphasize. Encourage talking and sharing of ideas among your students.
Connecting math with literature tips
With younger children generally spend about a week building the connections between the math concepts and skills and the story. Here are some suggestions.
- Day 1 - Read the book to the students and enjoy it. Have a sharing circle - those who want to say something about the book have an opportunity.
- Day 2 - Look at some of the pictures in the book, have a teacher directed discussion (still not necessarily about math concepts).
- Day 3 - Reread the story. This time focus the students' attention on the math concept.
- Day 4 - Remind children of the math concept and the book. Have an activity ready to reinforce the story and the math concept.
Always demonstrate the activity first. Just explaining is too confusing. I usually do two demos, the second one showing things that can go wrong. I start it with "This time I am going to make mistakes. Can you guess what I am doing wrong?" The kids find it funny and it reinforces that it's okay if you make mistakes.
Stories that are interesting, that present opportunities to teach math skills, and that have good illustrations are perfect for math and literature connections.
Links to books and activities that promote mathematical thinking:
Beginner book sets
Christmas story map
Hands on literacy activities
Listening and speaking
Make your own worksheets software
Math and literature section
Mini-books - tips for using
Outside activities that encourage reading and writing
Picture books - criteria for choosing and suggestions
Picture books 2
Picture book illustrators
Picture book videos (DVDs)
Responding to literature
"Theme" - check out this section for more literacy ideas