Math is a way of measuring, sequencing, patterning and exploring shapes, volume and size. Math for young learners should not be complex and can be incorporated into their daily routines. Below are various books that help teach mathematics to children. There are also activities listed to connect math with the literature.
Fish Eyes: A Book You Can Count On by Lois Ehlert
This book is a bright display of colored fish to help introduce young children to counting and basic addition. It is a fun and simple concept book but there are many opportunities for extended learning with older preschool children.
Older learners can explore the biology of fish and can learn basic addition like “3 smiling fish, plus me make 4”. Children can also practice catching, measuring and releasing homemade fish.
The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle
This is the story of a grouchy ladybug who does not like to share. He asks other insects if they want to fight, but then tells them they are too small. Each time the animals get bigger and bigger until he gets to a whale. The whale hit him with his tail, sending the ladybug where he started from. A nice ladybug offered him food and he accepted because he was so hungry. He then decided to be nice to everyone.
An easy way to extend learning opportunities with this book is to explore the concept of time. Children can see how time moves as a clock is present with the animals. Children can also explore the biology of a ladybug.
Spaghetti and Meatballs for All! A Mathematical Story by Marilyn Burns
When Mrs. Comfort’s guests rearrange all of her carefully placed tables and chairs, dinnertime at the family reunion becomes a complete mess in a playful introduction to the concepts of area and perimeter.
Children can explore measurement using tape measures.
Another activity can be creating “play” spaghetti to be divided equally between four “pretend” people. The materials needed are: 4 paper plates, Yarn (cream colored), Brown small craft pom-poms (16), Scissors.
Create spaghetti using the yarn and meatballs using the pom-poms. Challenge the children to equally share portions.
Ten Apples Up On Top! By Dr. Seuss
This book shows a lion, a dog, and a tiger having a contest—can they get ten apples piled up on top of their heads?
It is a great tool to use when introducing sequencing of numbers (1, 2, 3, 4…) and extended learning can include adding and subtracting.
If you want to challenge their gross motor skills, ask the children if they are able to balance 1,2,3,4… “apples” on their head. I would use bean bags as the apples.
Kristian Cannizzo, Education Coordinator, is responsible for The Children’s Museum’s educational enrichment and outreach program – Science On The Go! She also designs and teaches STEM programs, babysitting classes and other programs for young learners at the Museum. Krissy has a Bachelor’s of Science in Child Study with a concentration in Family Studies from the University of New Hampshire and over fifteen years of experience working with children as an educator and child care director locally and nationally for the CWLA in Washington, DC. She is the mother of two active young boys.
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