Mathematics: Making a Literature Connection

When presenting workshops I'm often asked why should you use manipulatives, puppets and literature to teach math?

The research has shown that children learn mathematical concepts best through language and the manipulation of concrete objects. That's why programs like Math Their Way and Explorations have stood the test of time. The combination of literature, puppetry, storytelling and manipulatives provide exciting learning opportunities for young children.

The benefits include:

*Integration of curricula areas

*Shared experiences

*Language development

*The development of mathematical concepts

*The development of mathematical language

*Pleasure of literature and storytelling

* A development of the ability to work together (Cooperative Learning)

The activities and books presented are but of few of the exciting things you can present to young children that spark excitement and learning about math.

Sorting

Strega Nona by Tomie De Paola
Strega Nona lives in a small village in Italy and possess "magical powers." She has a magic pasta pot and a bumbling assistant, Big Anthony. Anthony's escapades with the pasta pot result in a multitude of magical math activities.
Activities
*sort pasta
*measure items with different types of pasta
*graph different types of pasta
*cut out pasta pots and give students task cards with different numbers of types of pasta for students to paste on pot.

Noodles by Sarah Weeks
This pop up book introduces the children to familiar and unfamiliar types of pasta. It's a delightful book and can introduce students to sorting and counting activities.
Activities
*sort different types of pasta
*make sets with different types of pasta
*use pasta to make numerals

The Button Box by Margarette S. Reid
Grandma's Button Box by Linda Aber
" A Lost Button" from Frog and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel

To a little boy with a vivid imagination, his grandmother's button box holds more than buttons, he imagines where the buttons come from and what clothes they once adorned. His grandmother plays sorting games with him and tells him about the more unusual buttons.

In "A Lost Button" a lost button results in a terrific lesson on attributes.
Activities
*have students sort buttons by different attributes

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss
This zany book by Dr. Seuss is a fun and different way to look at sorting by different attributes.
Activities
*cut out different types and colors of flannel fish and have students sort different ways

Counting

How Many Snails? by Paul Giganti, Jr.
The author asks students to wander along with him in the meadow. He asks questions on each page, such as, "How many flowers are in the meadow?" and "How many flowers are yellow?" It is a wonderful way to count as well as looking at different attributes.
Activities
*this book allows students to ask questions about pictures on the page.
*you can make big books based on different themes, for example, "How Many Shells?"

Ten Apples Up On Top  by Theodore Le Seig
In this amusing counting book, three animals compete to have the most apples on top of their heads. Then the animals are chased by a variety of  other animals, all of whom seem to want to take away the "ten apples up on top." Eventually everyone crashes into a huge apple cart, and after a page of chaos, everyone has "ten apples up on top."
This book can be used in a variety of ways to promote number concept, sets, sorting, and graphing.

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff
While this book is not exactly a counting book, it is a fun way to introduce cookie manipulatives and explore counting sets, sorting, etc.

Who Took the Cookies from the Cookie Jar? by Bonnie Lass
This delightful book can be a stepping stone to cookie counting activities
Activities
*make a Kindergarten Cookie Factory center. Make cookies from different shapes and colors of salt dough. Place styrofoam trays and task cards in the center and let students place correct numbers of cookies on trays.

Time

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
The very hungry caterpillar eats his way through one week, spins a cocoon and sleeps for more than two weeks. Using an actual calendar gives children a hands-on experience with the calendar. Telling the story gives the children a great counting activity as well.
Activities
*make a large calendar and pieces from story (there are many sources where you can find either blackline masters or cut up an old book), place velcro on backs of pieces and on calendar and place in math center.
*use puppets to tell the story
*Lakeshore has a kit you can purchase and tell using the flannel board

The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle
The grouchy ladybug goes about her day picking on other animals bigger than she is. This book introduces children to the clock and telling time. On each page there is a clock and a picture of the sun as it rises in the morning until it sets in the evening.
Activities
*use a ladybug puppet to tell the story
*use a Judy clock or other demonstrator clock and have students actually change the time as you tell the story

Related Literature

Cookies Week by Cindy Ward

Clocks and More Clocks by Pat Hutchins

Addition/Subtraction

Mouse Count by Ellen Stoll Walsh
A hungry snake counts ten little mice. "little, warm and tasty," into a jar for his dinner. However, the clever little mice create a plan to fool the greedy snake and manage to escape.
Activities
* Make mice puppets from pompoms, find a large clear jar and a stuffed snake. Tell the story using props. Stop several times during the story to count on and back.

Rooster's Off to See the World by Eric Carle
Take a trip with Rooster as he is joined by his friends; a wonderful way to introduce addition and graphing.
Activities
*Play a graphing game with the class. Make a poster size graph with pictures of each animal in the story. Place unifix cubes in a bag (several of each to represent animals in the story, but only one black one to represent the rooster.)
Have students pull out one cube at a time. Use a tiny post it note and place on graph. When the black is pulled, class will chant, "Rooster's off to see the world, who will go with rooster?" Then the graph is read, for example
two cats, one frog and three fish. The answers will not be the same as the story. My students really love playing this game.

Ten Sly Piranhas by William Wise
Ten piranhas are swimming in the river, being gobbled up by one very clever and sly piranhas, or so he thinks. children love the ending. A great introduction to subtraction.
Activities
*Use an ocean storybord and make ten fish and use these props to tell the story.
*Give each child ten goldfish crackers and tell the story again, have them eat the goldfish and give answers to subtraction questions as the story is told.

The m&m's Counting Book by Barbara McGrath
This yummy little counting book teaches the numbers 1-12; as well as sets of 12 are explored. At the end of the book children will have great great fun exploring subtraction.
Activities
*Make a set of stiffened felt large circles. Use an m stamp and white acrylic paint and place an m&m on each circle. Use the m&m's to tell the story.
*Using the number and color of m&m's found in the book, place in bag for each student. Have students eat m&m's as the book is explored.

Related Literature
Skittles Math Riddles by Barbara McGrath
The m&m's Birthday Book by Barbara McGrath
The Gummy Candy Counting Book by Richard Hutchings

Fractions
Eating Fractions by Bruce McMillan
This photograph book of foods cut into quarters, thirds, halves and whole promotes a variety of ways to have hands on learning about fractions.
Activities
*Have actual food to cut for an actual hands on experience

Gator Pie by Louise Mathews
Two alligators find a pie and try to decide how to cut it. When other alligators demand their share a riot ensues. The delightful twist to the story will make it a class favorite.

Lunch with Cat and Dog by Rozanne Williams
The story of a greedy cat and how a dog outsmarts him. A good way to introduce young children to "fair shares."
Activities
*Make flannel board objects to tell the story.

Measurement

How Big is a Foot? by Rolf Myllar
In this story, the court carpenter learns a valuable lesson about different sizes of feet.
Activities
* Have students trace their feet and measure various items in the classroom and at home.

Inch by Inch by Leo Lionni
A tiny inchworm uses his "body" and ingenuity to keep from being eaten. This is an excellent introduction to measurement using non-standard units of measure, use inchworm measuring tapes to measure objects in the classroom.
Activities
*Have students make an inchworm measuring tape
*Homework activity: Send home measuring tapes to measure objects at home

Inchworm measuring tape

Ten Beads Tall by Michael Twinn
This book has a built system of measuring. Children enjoy the interactive nature of the book.
Activities:
*Make a book of thematic objects and provide unifix cubes for students to measure with.

Money
Bennie's Pennies by Pat Brisson
Benny has 5 new pennies; he buys things for his family and pets.
Activities
*This story is so easy to make flannel board objects for and then tell the story.

Books that Lend themselves to Graphing Experiences

Strega Nona by Tomie de Paola
Graph pasta

Pancakes, Pancakes by Eric Carle
Would you rather have pancakes or waffles?

The Doorbell Rang by Pat Hutchins
Favorite cookie

The Big Block of Chocolate by Janet Redhead
Favorite candy bar
Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban
Favorite jam or jelly

Peanut Butter by Natalie Westcott
Do you prefer creamy or crunchy peanut butter?

How Pizza Came to Queens by Dayal Khalsa
Favorite pizza topping

Caps for Sale by Esphr Slobdinka
Make garphs, graph color of caps

The Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown
graph farm animals - feather/fur, swim/walk, four legs/two legs