books · ELA · K-2 · math · reading

How to Use Picture Books in Math

Greetings, intrepid teachers!

Thanks for taking a break from your crazy back to school schedule to do some light reading.  =)  Today, I want to talk about something near and dear to my heart–using picture books to teach math.  There are tons of great picture books that help students understand different math ideas.  This will be the first in a weekly series where I share a few picture books that relate to one larger math idea.  Since we’re heading back to school soon, all our books this week connect to number sense.  (Note:  some of these books will also touch on other ideas, so you could use them more than once.)
**Double note:  this post contains affiliate links, so if you click the Amazon links and purchase I’ll get a small kickback.  But the opinions and ideas below are my own.**

Zero the Hero
In this adorable book, the other numbers think zero is worthless.  But Zero knows he’s worth a lot.  The other numbers exclude Zero, until they get in trouble and Zero saves the day!
Math ideas:  number sense, value of zero//zero as a place holder
Buy it on Amazon here.

How Much is a Million?
In this Reading Rainbow feature selection (what up, everyone who grew up in the 80s!), Marvelissimo the math magician knocks complex numbers down to size. This book does a great job of making really tricky, intangible concepts understandable to young mathematicians. (I can see tie ins here with Zero the Hero about zero’s function as a place holder in super large numbers.)
Math ideas:  number sense, place value, base 10 (for older kids)
Buy it on Amazon here.

Two of Everything
In this traditional Chinese folktale, an older woman finds a magic pot that doubles everything.  She puts in one coin purse, and two come out.
Math ideas: number sense, doubles, input//output charts
Buy it on Amazon here.

What in the World? Numbers in Nature
In this rhyming text, a young boy explores number sets in nature–wings, clouds, clovers, octopus arms.  This book also features a nice repetitive structure (What in the world comes four by four?) that really allows students to focus in on the math ideas of the book.  The book ends asking how many stars are in the sky, and the book says basically too many to count, but this would be a great tie in to How Much is a Million? you brilliant math teacher, you. This book would also tie in beautifully to both science (other than the examples provided in the book, what else comes in sets in nature?  Let’s explore our community and find some examples.) as well as art (each student gets a number and illustrates things that come in that set).
Math ideas:  number sense, sets//groups
Buy it on Amazon here.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, just some ideas to help you get started.  Do you have other favorite number sense books?  Drop their titles in the comments!

May your coffee be strong, and your PD useful!
Until next time,
xoxo, Rachel


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