How does combining math and literature help kids?
Literature can enhance children’s awareness of measurement, geometry, numbers and number computation, fractions, classifying, patterns, symmetry, problem solving, reasoning, estimation and more.
Stories that have math concepts woven throughout them, can not only stir up curiosity about those concepts but also provide a meaningful setting to help kids grasp those concepts.
Reading literature that has clear illustrations and presents math problems and concepts:
- helps children connect mathematical ideas to their own experiences
- prepares children for a new math concept or skill
- helps them understand a math skill or concept you are presently teaching
- gives children opportunities to review 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’ll learn math and other concepts at the same time.
Literature increases mathematical thinking
Many books increase mathematical thinking and 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.
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 and talk about the pictures in the book
- 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. Explaining is too confusing. I usually do two demos, the second one showing things that can go wrong.
Some children arrive to kindergarten very stressed about making mistakes. The second demo makes it funny and shows them that making mistakes is just a part of the learning process. I start it with “This time I am going to make some boo boos or mistakes. Can you guess what my mistakes are?
For example, if the activity requires that I draw a giraffe, I might draw his head and then a neck so long that there is only a teeny space for a body and legs and then say, “Oh dear, he has a teeny body.” Four to six-year olds find these things funny and it reinforces that it’s okay if your results are not what you originally intended! You can erase it or get a new paper and try again.
Stories that are interesting, that present opportunities to teach math skills, and that have good illustrations are perfect for math and literature connections.
A sample of math and literature books
The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle – Awareness of time, clocks and calendars
Grandfather Tang’s Story by Ann Tompert – Geometry
12 Ways to Get to 11 by Merriam, Eve – Operations