Stories are an enjoyable and effective way to explore mathematical ideas with children.

When you read books together, take time to explore and talk about mathematical ideas. It will help your children see and understand the math that happens all around them every day.

Children’s Books:

• Encourage children to re-create stories in their own way, as well as to practice math skills
• Provide a meaningful context to explore mathematical ideas
• Suggest problems that can be solved using different strategies
• Develop math concepts such as following directions, finding shapes in the environment and ideas about greater than and less than
• Encourage the use of math language such as How many? How far? How much?
• Help make sense of the world

• Introduce related math ideas
• Don’t be afraid to use math vocabulary
• Give children a chance to explain their thinking

Story Books:

• Talk about the page numbers. What comes next? What number is the last page?
• Talk about the pictures and what is happening in the story. Did something change? Why?
• Talk about patterns in the story. Notice rhyming word patterns too
• Notice the sequence of events: “What happened first? What happens next? What happened first? Second?
• Wonder aloud about more than, less than and equal to
• Count items on a page

Counting Books:

There are a number of good counting books that are enjoyable for both children and adults, and help to develop early numeracy and literacy skills. Books that count 0 to 5 or 0 to 10 are best for preschoolers.

Look for books that contain:

• Engaging and colorful pictures
• Easy to count items
• Numerals that are easy to identify and are printed clearly

Things to Do with Counting Books:

• Count the objects together
• How many do you think will be on the next page?
• How many would there be if there was one more? How many if there was one less?
• Have your child place out a toy or other item for each number you read
• If your child is familiar with the story, have them tell you what comes next

Some Good Books

 Title Author Tall Jez Alborough Ship Shapes Stella Blackstone Big Sarah’s Little Boots Paulette Bourgeois The Greedy Triangle Marilyn Burns 1,2,3, to the Zoo Eric Carle The Hungry Caterpillar Eric Carle Pumpkin Soup Helen Cooper Freight Train Donald Crews Carry Me, Mama Monica Devine I Am Small Emma Dodd Ten Little Caterpillars Lois Ehlert Color Zoo Lois Ehlert Round like a Ball Lisa Campbell Ernst Turtle Splash Cathryn Falwell Two Shoes, Blue Shoes, New Shoes Sally Fitz-Gibbon My Sister Ate One Hare Bill Grossman Lots of Dots Craig Frazier A Second is a Hiccup Hazel Hutchins The Doorbell Rang Pat Hutchins Stuck Oliver Jeffers Five Creatures Emily Jenkins Actual Size Steve Jenkins Mama, Do You Love me? Barbara Joosse The Wheels on the Bus Maryann Kovalski We All Went on Safari Laurie Krebs Who Took the Cookies from the Cookie Jar? Bonnie Las Inch by Inch Leo Lionni Ten Cats Have Hats Jean Marzello I Spy book series Jean Marzello Lessons from Mother Earth Elaine McLeod Quack, Quack, Moo We See You! Kelly Mij

If you would like to learn more about integrating math concepts into children’s daily routines, please visit the Centre for Family Literacy website to find out about our programs and training.

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Children will typically not say math is their favourite thing to do. But what if you could make learning math more fun for both you and your children, and also include some of their favourite activities (such as playing games, going to the park or playground, or story time)? Well, actually you can! You are possibly already doing this without realizing it and the benefits.

Are you familiar with the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears? This story is packed full of math or numeracy concepts, even though the only number mentioned in the story is the number three.

Numeracy includes using words to describe size, shape, textures, and amounts. When we put things in order, sequence, match, or find and make patterns, we are building and developing numeracy skills. I bet you can find the numeracy in the Goldilocks and the Three Bears story now!

Following are some activities to make a story more engaging and fun. You can add story extenders, or props, to make a story come alive. Using the Goldilocks… story as our example, you can try some of these ideas:

Sequencing:

• Talk about what Goldilocks did first, second, third, etc. See if your children can remember the order of events.

Sequencing, Imagination, and Creative Play:

• Have your children hold toy bears, dolls, or furniture while listening to the story. Encourage them to retell the story later in their own way, using words like “before,” “next,” etc.

Matching:

• Make pictures of bears, chairs, bowls, and beds, etc. like in the story, and have your children match them to the proper bear owners.
• Visit a park or zoo, and sing some songs that involve bears.
• While on a walk or at an appointment, ask your children to find sets of 3. For example, 3 trees, 3 cats, 3 chairs, etc.

Size/Shape/Texture:

• Talk about who is biggest and smallest, what is hardest and softest, etc. To describe things in the book and around you, try to use different words than the book uses.
• Use these kinds of words when talking about the sets of 3, making comparisons and talking about opposites.

These are just a few simple and quick ways to have fun with numeracy (math) by using what your children love to do, which will unconsciously make learning fun and easy for both you and your children.

We share many more of these ideas and concepts at the free 3,2,1, FUN! program for parents and your 3-5 year old children.