In my Prep classroom, one of our favourite times of the day is when we come together to enjoy a story. Some people assume that reading stories is strictly part of English lessons – this couldn’t be further from the truth! There are so many fabulous maths books out there that captivate children’s interests and can be used as part of engaging maths lessons. In this blog, I will share with you some of my all time favourite maths books that I use in my early years classroom.
WHY USE MATHS BOOKS IN THE CLASSROOM?
There are many benefits to using maths books in the classroom which include:
- The combination of maths and books together creates a wonderful partnership where children’s numeracy skills are being developed at the same time as their literacy skills.
- Different mathematical concepts can be developed, depending on what the book is focusing on.
- Maths books can help children to better visualise and understand mathematical concepts.
- Maths books can help teachers explain mathematical concepts to children in child-friendly terminology and present the concept from a different perspective.
- Maths books capture children’s attention and ‘draw them in’, and this engagement allows for maximum learning to take place.
- Maths books show children that maths is all around us and that we use it everyday.
- Maths books encourage children to use their problem solving skills.
- These types of books can expand children’s mathematical language and vocabulary.
WHEN SHOULD MATHS BOOKS BE USED IN THE CLASSROOM?
As I mentioned above, maths books are an easy way to capture children’s attention and draw them in. I often use maths books at the beginning of my maths lessons to “turn our maths brains on”. I might use them as a warm up to consolidate some of our prior learning or to help introduce a new maths concept.
MATHS BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE EARLY YEARS
Trixie Ten by Sarah Massini
This book always gets my students laughing! They love the fact that Trixie TEN has nine brothers and sisters who are all very noisy in their own way. Wanda ONE is always sneezing, Thomas TWO constantly has the hiccups and Nathaniel NINE is always pretending to be a lion etc. Be prepared to make lots of different sounds while you are reading this book as you act out each sibling! This book encourages children to count to ten and develops their understanding of number words.
On the launch pad: A counting book about rockets by Michael Dahl
3…2…1… BLAST OFF! This is another one of my students’ favourite counting books! This time, children are encouraged to count backwards from ten. If you have any students who love space, then they are bound to love this book. I discovered this book when my students and I were doing a project on space and have used it in maths lessons ever since. The book counts down from ten and shows the process of getting ready for a rocket to launch. On each page, a numeral is hidden somewhere in the artwork and students always love trying to find where it has been hidden. I love that this book shows children how number can be represented in different ways and displays each number as a numeral, a number word and with dots.
The Clown’s New Clothes by James Burnett and Calvin Irons
Who else LOVES a big book? Big books are my absolute favourite to read in the classroom as my students always show such excitement when one is pulled out. This book comes as a big book and focuses on the mathematical concept of length. It is specifically written for Foundation students. There is lots of fantastic mathematical language in the book and opportunities for group discussions, as children have to choose the correct clothing items that the clown is looking for. Another thing that I LOVE about this book is that you can download Teacher Notes from MTA that include brilliant lesson ideas where children can explore the concepts discussed in the book further through play-based activities.
The Clown’s New Clothes (Click on the link to see the free Teacher Notes too)
Ten Terrible Dinosaurs by Paul Stickland
What child doesn’t love dinosaurs? Am I right?! ‘Ten Terrible Dinosaurs’ has always been a favourite book in my classroom – regardless of what age I’ve taught!
“10 terrible dinosaurs standing in a line, soon began to push and shove until there were…”
My students always love counting down from ten until there’s only one dinosaur left and there is a big SURPRISE at the end. Not only do children develop their counting and numeral recognition skills when they engage with this text, but they are also developing their ability to listen and identify rhyme in the story.
Jolly Olly Octopus by Tony Mitton and Gui Parker-Rees
I love using this simple book as a warm up to get students in a ‘maths mood’ or at the beginning of the year when children are developing their knowledge of numbers 1-10. This light-hearted book encourages children to count the different sea animals and develop their sense of number. My students always love the part when the shark comes!
Ten Little Monkeys Jumping On the Bed by Child’s Play
“Ten Little Monkeys jumping on the bed, one fell off and bumped his head…”
I’m so glad that someone turned this classic song into a book! This song NEVER gets old and the book is great to use in a sing-along group session. Children develop their counting skills and number sense as they count down from ten (and have lots of fun while doing so!)
Perfect Patterns Written by James Burnett and Calvin Irons
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – big books are my FAVOURITE! This big book teaches children all about different patterns and shows various types of repeating patterns and growing patterns. This book is designed for students in Foundation year and aligns with specific concepts outlined in the Australian Curriculum. I used this book this year when I introduced repeating patterns to my class and then later in the year when we started to focus on growing patterns. Both times, I used this book at the beginning of my lesson to help introduce the concept and then used the Teacher Notes that are available from MTA’s website to implement some play-based, hands-on activities for students to consolidate their understanding.
Perfect Patterns (Click on the link to see the free Teacher Notes too)
I See, You See by James Burnett and Calvin Irons
Subitising (learning to recognise different quantities by sight) is an important mathematical skill for children to learn. This big book ‘I See, You See’ encourages children to develop their subitising skills as the say the number of shapes they see on each page.
“How many red shapes on each flag? Look at the flags and say what you see. There is NO need to count one, two, three…”
I’ve used lots of hands-on ideas from the Teacher Notes on MTA’s website to explore the concept of subitising with my students.
I See, You See: (Click on the link to see the free Teacher Notes too)
One Is A Snail, Ten Is A Crab by April Pulley Sayre and Jeff Sayre
In this book, students develop maths skills as they count the number of feet of the animals on each page. At the start, the book counts in ones up to ten. Then, the book starts to skip count in tens: “20 is two crabs… 30 is three crabs…” My students this year think skip counting is “really cool” and for “big kids” so they absolutely love this book! This book also develops students’ understanding of addition which is an important mathematical skill: “7 is an insect and a snail”.
Featured Product: One Is A Snail, Ten Is A Crab
‘Ten Little….’ Series by Mike Brownlow and Simon Rickerty
I’ve saved my absolute favourite maths books until last! I couldn’t just choose one so I decided to include four of the ‘Ten Little…’ books, as they are all amazing! In my very first year of teaching, I bought ‘Ten Little Pirates’ and my class were OBSESSED so I knew I just had to get more! These books are still the most requested books in my class and are fantastic for practising counting backwards from ten and developing children’s number sense. Our favourite part from ‘Ten Little Pirates’ is: “Ten little pirates sailing out to sea, looking for adventure, happy as can be. Are they hunting treasure? Are they going far? Ten little pirates all say, ‘ARRRR!” Of course, we yell at the top of voices “ARRR!” and embrace our inner pirate! There are more books that are part of the series too – ‘Ten Little Monsters’ and ‘Ten Little Elves’. ‘Ten Little Elves’ is always a favourite at Christmas time!
What are your favourite maths book for young children?
Heidi Overbye from Learning Through Play is a Brisbane based, Early Years Teacher who currently teaches Prep, the first year of formal schooling in Queensland. Heidi is an advocate for play-based, hands-on learning experiences and creating stimulating and creative learning spaces. Heidi shares what happens in her classroom daily on her Instagram page, Learning Through Play. See @learning.through.play for a huge range of activities, play spaces and lesson ideas.