How children's literature and math can go hand in hand

I’ve sầu found that children’s books are extremely effective sầu tools for teaching mathematics. They can spark students’ math imaginations in ways that textbooks or workbooks don’t. Connecting math lớn literature can boost confidence for children who love books but are wary of math. And students who already love math can learn to lớn appreciate stories in an entirely new way.

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One book that I’ve read to lớn many first và second graders, always to lớn the delight of the children, is One Is a Snail, Ten Is a Crab by April Pulley Sayre và Jeff Sayre, illustrated by Randy Cecil (Candlewiông chồng Press, 2003). The book counts by groups of feet—1 is a snail (because a snail touches the sand on the beach at only one spot, with its belly), 2 is a person, 3 is a person và a snail, 4 is a dog, và so on, up to lớn 10 is a crab. Then the book continues by multiples of 10 up to lớn 100, which the illustration shows as 10 crabs and also as 100 snails. Read on for how I used the book in a lesson with a class of second graders.


Here I’m showing the spread in the book for the number 2.


Two is a person, the book states, and the illustration includes two arrows pointing to lớn the person’s two feet touching the s& at the beach.


The next page reveals that 3 is a person và a snail. Before I continued, I asked the students khổng lồ predict the next number & how they thought the book would describe và illustrate it. They all predicted that the next number would be 4, but they had different ideas about what the illustration would be—a mèo, a dog, a horse, & so on.


I told them their ideas were all fine and then I turned the page to lớn show that the next page shows 4 as a dog. The book continues by showing 5 as a dog & a snail, then 6 as an insect, 7 as an insect and a snail, 8 as a spider, và so on. The students caught on to the pattern.


This spread shows 9 on the left page as a spider và a snail, & 10 on the right page as a crab. (The text explains that the crab’s claws ccount as feet.) “So what number will come next?” I asked. The students all predicted 11. But when I turned the page, they learned that they were wrong!


The number 20 comes next, & the illustration shows two crabs. We talked about 20 being equal to two 10s.
Then comes 30, shown two ways, as three crabs on the left & as 10 people và one crab on the right.
The students caught on lớn this new pattern as the book continues with 40, 50, & so on, showing each number in two different ways. Here I’m showing the spread that presents 80 as eight crabs or ten spiders.
The book continues up to lớn 100, which it shows as ten crabs, and also as 100 snails.
I transitioned into a riddle activity. I had folded a sheet of paper lớn prepare a riddle. I had written 11 on the outside và inside I had written two equations, one relating to lớn the context of the book và the other with numbers. I asked the students to lớn guess my equations. Doing this modeled what they would be doing independently in a few minutes. There were various guesses.
After everyone who wanted had a chance lớn guess, I opened my paper & revealed what I had written. In my first equation, I represented 11 as 2 dogs plus 1 person plus 1 snail. In my second equation, I wrote 11 equals 8 (for the number of feet on two dogs) plus 2 (for the number of feet a person has) plus 1 (for a snail). I then sent the students to their seats to lớn write their own riddles for the number 11.
When I gathered the class again on the rug, I asked for a volunteer to come up and present. Here this student is telling me what he had written. He didn’t want lớn show me the inside of his card because he wanted to lớn be careful that no one else could peek and see.

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He was a bit bummed when the first person he called on guessed correctly, both the equation in the context và with the numbers. You can see here that he looks slightly disappointed. I think he was hoping for a longer run up in front of the class.
He opened his riddle thẻ . . .
. . . to show everyone his equations.
I chose this girl to present next. She’s very shy, usually quiet, and being in front of the class was a push for her.
I helped out by first reminding the others that they were lớn guess two equations, giving her time to get comfortable.
When someone guessed, she needed a little coaching from me about how to respond.
As difficult as this was for her, she did really well.

I sometimes ask students to choose their own numbers for riddles, but with this class, I asked them all lớn write a riddle for the number 11. I made one of those decisions that we as teachers make all of the time because of our particular students. It was a good decision for this class.

The activity can spread over several days, with a few students presenting their riddles at a time. It can be extended so that students write riddles for other numbers. It’s a wonderful lesson for differentiating so that students work with numbers that are appropriate for them. Some stiông xã with numbers less than đôi mươi, others choose multiples of 10 up to 100, và some choose other two-digit numbers.

Using a Children’s Book in a Math LessonThere’s a huge variety of books available that provide many opportunities for teaching math lessons. And while the books and lesson goals differ, I follow the same guidelines when planning these lessons:

Read the book aloud. (At times, reread the book if it’s appropriate to lớn vị so.)Allow time for class discussion of the book.Introduce the math connection to the class and assign the math work to be done in class, typically an activity, a problem, an exploration, or a game.After students have sầu had time to complete the assignment, lead a class discussion for students to present their work & listen và respond khổng lồ one another’s ideas.If appropriate, assign homework based on the lesson.

Choosing Books for Math LessonsOne important aspect of incorporating children’s books inkhổng lồ math instruction is making good choices about the books lớn use. I consider these three questions before selecting a book to use as a read-aloud springboard for a math lesson:1. Is the book of high unique from a literary perspective?2. Does the book present nội dung that is mathematically sound và grade-level appropriate?3. Is the book effective for helping students learn lớn think & reason mathematically?

A Final TipWhile the goal after reading a book aloud to lớn a class is khổng lồ launch a math lesson, I first allow time for students lớn enjoy the book. As with any read-aloud experience, I want students to savor the text & examine the illustrations. Sometimes I’ll reread all or part of the book, và I always provide the opportunity for class discussion about it. Only then bởi I shift the students’ attention to make the math connection. After the lesson, I make the children’s book available for students lớn revisit on their own or lớn kiểm tra out to take trang chủ & enjoy with their families.

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Additional SuggestionsFor more ideas, not only for young children but also for older students, see Math Reads published by Scholastic và the Math, Literature, and Nonfiction series published by Math Solutions Publications. Most of my favorite ideas are in these resources. Also, you can download an At-a-Glance Chart of children’s books featured in the Math, Literature, và Nonfiction series, listed with grade levels and topics.

Chuyên mục: literature