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Using picture books is a great approach to consider when thinking about how to teach multiplication to struggling students. The following are examples of great math read alouds for supporting you with this:
We hope this math picture book list will be helpful as you plan your upcoming math lessons and would love for you to try these math resources with your students. They offer students opportunities to practice grade level concepts and skills in fun and engaging ways. You can download worksheets specific to your grade level (along with lots of other math freebies) in our free printable math resources bundle using this link: free printable math activities for elementary teachers.
This piece discusses general principles of reading and analyzing storybooks, and offers brief descriptions of picture books. It describes how to use the Math Picture Book Analysis Guide with pre-service or in-service teachers.
If you ask your participants to think about resources for teaching math to young children, they may not suggest picture books. However, just as picture books provide opportunities to develop literacy, they can also be used to promote children's mathematical thinking.
When discussing how to use picture books to teach math, it is important to make a distinction between three types of books: those in which math is explicit, those in which math is implicit, and everything else.
Explicit math books are written for the express purpose of teaching children math. These may even contain a reference to mathematical concepts in their titles, as in the case of books such as Mouse Shapes by Ellen Stoll Walsh. But other books that also explicitly teach math concepts do not have such titles. For example, Hippos Go Berserk by Sandra Boyton, is actually a counting book, but you would not know that from the title.
Other picture books do not explicitly address math, yet the text and illustrations do afford students opportunities to learn about math concepts. A well-known example is Goldilocks and the Three Bears, in which the story involves size comparisons. For example, Papa Bear is the biggest, Mama Bear is medium-sized, and Baby Bear is the smallest. While your participants may not think of Goldilocks as a math story, significant math ideas are implicit in it and important to the plot. Your participants can learn how to use both implicit and explicit math picture books to help children discuss and investigate math ideas.
An effective way to analyze picture books with participants is to read a picture book together as a whole-group activity. Although they will ultimately be presented with a guide to help them analyze books on their own, this first introduction can be less structured. In this example, we focus on counting.
After participants have analyzed a picture book together, introduce the Math Picture Book Analysis Guide (download below). This guide will help participants analyze any book and determine its suitability and usefulness for teaching math to children.
Next, break the participants into small groups to analyze some picture books using the Math Picture Book Analysis Guide as you did as a whole group. Encourage them to check off boxes for each question and write comments.
Have participants annotate the picture books using sticky notes. On the first page, make general notes about the book and its usefulness. Annotations for individual pages may include notes about the specific math found on the page, vocabulary (math or otherwise), general reactions or feelings about the book, as well as questions that a teacher might ask a child while reading. Here are some possible annotations for the Balancing Act spread.
Picture books afford many opportunities to explore children's mathematical thinking. This is true of explicit math books as well as books in which significant math is implicit. The Math Analysis Picture Guide and the other picture book resources mentioned across our modules can help participants analyze and select picture books effectively and use them to teach math concepts.
Sara Schmitt, associate professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, is the co-principal investigator on the project. She said picture books and the interaction between parent and child can lay the foundation for academic success later in school. Schmitt has read the books to her 3-year-old and was excited about the math interest that was generated.
The use of a narrative supports problem solving as students have a reason within the story to solve and to figure. A picture book can be used as an introduction to a concep