How to Teach Maths With Picture Books

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Even though story time is about words and language, you’d be surprised how much kids can learn about maths from picture books. So for the second post in The Story Time Series, I’m excited to share my top four ways to teach maths with picture books.

And if you want to check out the other posts in the Story Time Series, go here.

IDEA 1: Counting Practice

Ask the kids to count! It’s so simple and effective. Simply choose something on each page or every other page and ask the kids to count them.

‘How many flowers do you see?’, 'How many cows are in front of the house and how many are behind it?’

Counting books are the obvious choice for this, but I prefer to incorporate counting into story picture books so the kids get some counting practice but also get a story. On any page of any picture book, there will always be something to count!

IDEA 2: Teach Subtraction

Use the following steps to introduce and discuss the concept of subtraction:

  1. Ask the kids to count a set of something (flowers, trees, sheep—whatever is on the page).
  2. Cover some of the items with your hand.
  3. Ask them to count the items left.

IDEA 3: Teach Addition

Use the following steps to introduce and discuss the concept of addition:

  1. Choose a page with a group of things on it.
  2. Cover some of those things and ask the kids to count what they see.
  3. Take away your hand and get them to count again.

IDEA 4: Teach addition again!

Here are the steps:

  1. Choose a page with two or more groups of things.
  2. Ask the kids to count one group (for example, all the flowers)
  3. Get them to count the second group of things (for example, all the sheep).
  4. Now get them to count both groups of things and discuss what they are doing.

The kids likely won’t get it on the first or 50th or even 100th time, but they’ll get it eventually, and it’s a fun and different way to learn than simply being told. My three–year-old just loves counting now, and we now have to count at least something on every page of every book we read.

Next post, I’ll share with you ideas for Exploring Critical Thinking with Picture Books. Sounds heavy, but I promise it’s a lot of fun!