MATH I

 

How many? How big? How far? How long? And when should kids know what? From PBS, the Child Development Tracker has descriptions of what kids generally know and do, year by year, from ages 1 to 9, in the fields of Creative Arts, Language, Literacy, Mathematics, Physical Health, Science, and Social and Emotional Growth.

There are – literally – hundreds of books aimed at introducing just-beginners to numbers; check out some good resources below.

For resources for older kids, see Math II.

 

NUMBERS AND COUNTING

 images-4 There are several picture-book versions of the loved-by-everybody song/nursery rhyme “Ten in the Bed:” “There were 10 in the bed and the little one said/”Roll over! Roll over!’/So they all rolled over and 1 fell out…” David Ellwand’s Ten in the Bed (Chronicle Books, 2001) is illustrated with enchanting photographs of ten teddy bears (including one in a striped night cap and one in wire-rimmed spectacles). For ages 1-4.
 imgres In Donald Crews’s rhyming Ten Black Dots (Greenwillow, 1994), various numbers of black dots (from 1 to 10) can be anything from a sun and a moon, to the eyes of a fox, the face of a snowman, or beads “for stringing on a lace.” Illustrated with big bright graphics for ages 1-5.
Math Literature Connections: Number Sense has activities and downloadable cards, worksheets and charts to accompany Donald Crews’s Ten Black Dots, Theo LeSieg’s Ten Apples Up on Top, and Jerrie Oughton’s How the Stars Fell Into the Sky.
 images-1 Lois Ehlert’s Fish Eyes (“A Book You Can Count On”) (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1992), illustrated with gorgeous bright-colored fish, makes for a great interactive read, with many fish and fish eyes to count, plus shapes and colors to identify. For ages 2-5.
 imgres-1 By Mitsumasa Anno, Anno’s Counting Book (Crowell, 1997) is an enchanting picture book that teaches the numbers 0 to 12 as a small village grows through the months of the year. The book opens with an empty snow scene (0); by 1, we have one house, one snowy pine tree, one bridge over the river, one snowman, and one skier; by 7, there are seven buildings, seven pine trees, seven spotted cows, a clothesline hung with seven sheets and, in the sky, a seven-colored rainbow. Delightful for ages 2-6.
 imgres-2 In Rick Walton’s rhyming So Many Bunnies (HarperFestival, 2000) – an ABC and counting book – Old Mother Rabbit, who lives in a shoe, is putting her 26 alphabetical offspring to bed, counting them one by one, from (1) Abel (who sleeps on a table) to (26) Zed, who sleeps in a shed. For ages 2-6.
For related books and resources, see RABBITS and ABC: The Alphabet (and Beyond).
 imgres-3 Janet Lawler’s Ocean Counting (National Geographic, 2013), illustrated with gorgeous color photographs, includes interesting “Did You Know?” fact boxes for each numerical group of ocean animals (starting with 1 green sea turtle). For ages 2-6.
 imgres-4 By Maurice Sendak, One Was Johnny (HarperCollins, 1991) begins with Johnny, who lives alone, happily reading by himself. Then a rat leaps in, followed by a cat, a dog, a turtle, and so on until an annoyed Johnny cleverly counts backwards, getting rid of his uninvited guests and restoring peace and quiet. For ages 2-7.
 images-2 Roger Priddy’s Counting Colors (Priddy Books, 2007) groups bright photos of familiar objects by color. Each color-coded spread challenges readers to count to ten, by finding 1-10 different objects – for example, (red) 2 roses, 4 fire engines, and 9 strawberries or (yellow) 2 bananas, 6 chicks, 7 lemons, and 10 rubber ducks. For ages 2-6.
 imgres-5 In Jean Marzollo’s I Spy Numbers (Scholastic, 2012) – illustrated with colorful photo spreads of appealing little objects – challenges readers to find numbers of items via little rhyming clues. Great for trips. For ages 3-5.
 imgres-6 For dinosaur lovers, How Do Dinosaurs Count to Ten? by Jane Yolen and Marc Teague (Blue Sky Press, 2004) features enormous dinosaurs perched on kid-sized beds and playing with kid-sized toys. Readers count to 10 beginning with 1 tattered teddy bear. One of a series for ages 3-5.
 imgres-7 Cynthia Cotton’s At the Edge of the Woods (Henry Holt and Company, 2002) is a rhyming counting book of woodland animals, beginning with “At the edge of the woods, the grass grows tall/The daisies dance and the blackbirds call/One chipmunk lives in the old stone wall/At the edge of the deep, dark woods.” An evocative numerical read for ages 3-6.
 imgres-8 In Louise Yates’s Dog Loves Counting (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2013), Dog has tried counting sheep, but still can’t get to sleep – so off he goes to find other animals to count. He begins with one baby dodo, and together the two of them set off in search of number three – a three-toed sloth, followed by a four-legged camel, a five-lined skink, and so on up to ten. At the end of the book, all ten animals end up counting stars. Other books featuring Dog include Dog Loves Books (2010) and Dog Loves Drawing (2012). For ages 3-6.
 imgres-9 Richard Scarry’s Best Counting Book Ever (Sterling, 2010) counts by ones to twenty, then by tens to one hundred – all with Scarry’s busy little pictures in which there’s a lot to study and count. For ages 3-6.
 imgres-10 Paul Giganti’s How Many Snails? (Greenwillow, 1994) is a clever counting book that introduces kids to the idea of sets and subsets.  (How many clouds? How many clouds are big and fluffy? How many clouds are big and fluffy and gray?) The School Library Journal trashed it for ambiguity (What constitutes a truck? Will kids know that fire trucks are trucks?) – but I think that’s a plus. Discuss and debate. That’s what books are for. For ages 3-7.
 imgres-11 Woody Jackson’s Counting Cows (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1999) is a simple 10 to 0 countdown counting book illustrated with Jackson’s signature black-and-white Holsteins. Readers learn lots of cow synonyms. (“Eight cool cattle.” “Six haying heifers.”) For ages 3-7.
For many related resources, see MOO: All About Cows.
 imgres-12 In Stioshi Kitamura’s When Sheep Cannot Sleep (Square Fish, 1988), Woolly, a pop-eyed little sheep in blue-and-white striped pajamas, can’t get to sleep – so off he goes for a walk, counting along the way, from one butterfly to two ladybugs, three owls, and four bats, up to 20 stars. Back in bed again, he thinks about his family – 21 relatives, all sheep – and so, finally, counting sheep, he falls asleep. Great watercolor illustrations. For ages 3-7.
Want more sheep resources? See BAA: Sheep, Yarn, Mobius Strips, and DNA.
 imgres-13 We’re all primates! Anthony Browne’s One Gorilla (Candlewick, 2013) is a counting book of primates, from 1 gorilla to 2 orangutans, 3 chimpanzees, and so on, through gibbons, macaques, and mandrills to 10 ring-tailed lemurs. The book ends with 20 portraits of people (“All primates/All one family”). Illustrated with wonderful detailed paintings. For ages 3-7.
 imgres-14 Alison Jay’s 1 2 3 (Dutton Juvenile Books, 2007) is a charmer, beginning with one sleeping little girl who is carried away on the back of a (golden-egg-laying) goose to an enchanting fairy-tale world, populated with three pigs, four frog princes, seven magic beans, and so on, up to ten and back again. Each wonderful illustration is filled with numbers and references to fairy tales. (Figure out which one.) For ages 4-7.
See FAIRY TALES.
 images-3 In Philemon Sturges’s Ten Flashing Fireflies (NorthSouth, 1997), a pair of children capture – one by one – ten fireflies in a jar, and then, as the lights begin to blink out, let them go (and glow) again, counting back down from 10 to 1. The illustrations are soft summer night scenes in pastels, with luminous balls of glowing fireflies. For ages 4-8.
f2ea045586d66d9f425428f2be62f196waxpaper_firefly Firefly Activities include making a wax-paper-winged fireflies, ice-cream-spoon fireflies, and a firefly keepsake jar. (Count them!)
 imgres-15 Alice Melvin’s Counting Birds (Tate, 2010), written in rhyming couplets, counts birds (1-20) over the course of a day, beginning at dawn with one cockerel, then two love birds in a cage, then three ducks. Readers learn 21 different birds (the book ends at evening, with one nocturnal barn owl.) For ages 4-8.
See BIRDS.
 imgres-16 By April Pulley Sayre, One is a Snail, Ten is a Crab (Candlewick, 2008) is a counting book of feet, beginning with the one-footed snail – then 2 (people), 4 (dog), 6 (insect), 8 (spider), and 10 (crab). Odd numbers are represented by an even-footed animal plus one snail. The numbers 10 to 100 are then represented by various combinations of animals – 80, for example, can be eight crabs or ten spiders. Cheerful cartoon illustrations. For ages 4-8.
Check out the Parents’ Choice Six Best Counting Books.
From The Best Children’s Books, see Learning Numbers with Counting Books.

BIGGER NUMBERS

 imgres-17 Rosemary Wells’s Emily’s First 100 Days of School (Disney-Hyperion, 2005) covers the numbers 1 to 100, with Emily’s daily number journal. Crammed with creative number ideas. (Make a number journal of your own!) Great project possibilities for ages 4 and up.
 imgres-18 Lola M. Schaeffer’s Lifetime: The Amazing Numbers in Animal Lives (Chronicle Books, 2013), is a mix of biology and math, as kids learn numbers and cool animal facts from 1 to (with skips) 1000. For example, in a single lifetime, a spider will spin one egg sac, a caribou will shed ten sets of antlers, a woodpecker will drill 30 nesting holes in trees, a rattlesnake will add 40 beads to its rattle, and a pair of seahorses will produce 1000 baby seahorses. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-19 In Loreen Leedy’s Missing Math (Two Lions, 2008), all the numbers in town have simply disappeared – leaving behind a mess: clocks and calendars don’t work, money has no value, sports competitions and elections can’t be resolved, and nobody knows how old or tall they are. The culprit is finally caught: a number thief with a powerful vacuum, trying to make a number large enough to reach infinity. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-20 Christina Dobson’s Pizza Counting (Charlesbridge, 2003) covers counting, addition, large numbers, and fractions, all through the medium of creative and yummy-looking pizzas. Pizza toppings not only demonstrate the numbers 1-20, but are combined to make pictures, such as a pizza face, a pizza cat, a pizza clock. A pizza tricked out with 100 topping pieces is duplicated 10 times (to demonstrate 1000) and then 100 times (10,000); millions and biliions are discussed in terms of numbers of pizzas necessary to circle the globe or reach to the moon. Try pairing this one with making your own numerical paper or baked-in-the-oven pizzas. For ages 5-8.
 imgres-21 In David Birch’s The King’s Chessboard (Puffin, 1993), the king insists on giving his wise counselor a reward. Finally the counselor asks for a single grain of rice, the quantity to be doubled each day for as many days as there are squares on the king’s chessboard. The king soon realizes that he has made a dreadful mathematical mistake. For ages 6-10.
 imgres-22 Demi’s One Grain of Rice (Scholastic, 1997) is a gorgeously illustrated version of the same tale, set in India; Helena Clare Pittman’s A Grain of Rice (Yearling, 1995) is a Chinese version of the story, in which a mathematically clever farmer’s son wins the hand of a princess.
 imgres-23 Andrew Clements’s picture-book A Million Dots (Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, 2006) contains one million dots, along with a lot of catchy factoids to help readers visualize crucial numerical quantities along the way. Kids learn, for example, that there are 525,600 minutes from one birthday to the next and that when the cow jumped over the moon, she soared upward 238,857 miles. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-24 In David Schwartz’s How Much Is a Million? (HarperCollins, 2004), kids learn about millions, billions, and trillions, with the help of Marvelosissimo the Mathematical Magician and a lot of clever analogies. Readers discover, for example, that it would take 23 days to count to a million, that a goldfish bowl big enough for a million goldfish could hold a blue whale, and that a stack of a million kids, standing on each other’s shoulders, would reach all the way to the moon. For ages 4-8.
 images-5 In David Schwartz’s On Beyond a Million (Dragonfly Books, 2001), Professor X and Dog Y (both in sweater vests) show kids how to count exponentially (by powers of ten). The book is appealingly designed, with conversation in cartoon bubbles and a lot of fascinating “Did you know?” side bars filled with numerical facts. For example, readers learn that one colony of weaver ants contains 500,000 ants, that there are 40,000 characters in Chinese, and that Americans eat 500,000,000 pounds of popcorn each year. Readers learn about the enormous googol (a 1 with a hundred zeroes after it) and the even more enormous googolplex (a googol raised to the power of a googol). However, they find that it’s impossible to count to infinity, and the book ends with: “No matter what number you have, there is always one bigger.”For ages 5-8.
 imgres-25 Robert E. Wells’s Is A Blue Whale the Biggest Thing There Is? (Albert Whitman & Company, 1993), for ages 6-9, is a cleverly illustrated exercise in big numbers and relative sizes: For example, it takes about 12 minutes to count to a thousand, but a good three weeks to count to a million, and a lifetime to count to a billion; and yes, a blue whale is big, but it’s tiny in comparison to massive Mount Everest, which is tiny in comparison to planet Earth, which is dwarfed by the Sun, which is puny compared to the red supergiant Antares. For ages 6-11.
 imgres-26 By Robert E. Wells, Can You Count to a Googol? (Albert Whitman & Company, 2000) is a counting book by tens (beginning with one banana, balanced on a nose) and moving up through 1000 (scoops of ice cream), 100,000 (marshamallows), and so on, ending with an explanation of the googol (a 1 with 100 zeroes after it) and how it was named by a nine-year-old boy. A googol, Wells points out, is much too enormous to illustrate (“If you counted every grain of sand on all the worlds’ beaches and every drop of water in all the oceans, that wouldn’t even be CLOSE…”). For ages 6-9.
 imgres-27 In Kate Hosford’s Infinity and Me (Carolrhoda Books, 2012), young Uma – gazing at the star-filled night sky – grapples with the difficult-to-grasp concept of infinity. Family and friends all offer different takes on infinity, and eventually Uma comes to terms with it, realizing that her love for her grandma is “as big as infinity.” With gorgeous illustrations by Gabi Swiatkowska. For ages 5-8.

 MATH SERIES BOOKS

 imgres-28 The Math Counts Series (Children’s Press) by Henry Pluckrose is a collection of 32-page books, each with a simple text and illustrated with attractive color photos, introducing a range of math topics. Titles include Numbers, Counting, Sorting, Shape, Patterns, Size, Length, Capacity, and Weight. For ages 3-6.
 images-6 Brian Cleary’s Math is Categorical series  (Lerner Publishing) includes such titles as The Action of Subtraction, The Mission of Addition, and Windows, Rings, and Grapes – a Look at Different Shapes. (See complete list at the website.) All are simple introductions to math concepts, with friendly examples, a rhyming text, and a lot of bright zany animal illustrations. For ages 4 and up.
 imgres-29 Stuart J. Murphy’s extensive MathStarts series is categorized by age group: Level 1 (ages 3 and up), Level 2 (ages 6 and up), and Level 3 (ages 7 and up). See the website for the complete list, with descriptions of math concepts covered.
 images-7 The Math Matters series (Kane Press) by various authors is a series of picture-book stories, each related to a specific math concept and variously targeted at ages 5-7 or 6-8. For example, Gail Herman’s Bad Luck Brad covers probability; Jennifer Dussling’s Fair is Fair introduces readers to bar graphs; and Linda Williams Aber’s Grandma’s Button Box is all about sorting. See the complete list of titles at the website.
 images-8 The Mouse Math series (Kane Press), variously by Eleanor May, Daphne Skinner, and Laura Driscoll, are picture-book introductions to simple math concepts for preschoolers, starring a pair of adorable mice, Albert and his big sister Wanda. Albert Is Not Scared, for example, covers direction words; Albert’s Amazing Snail emphasizes position words; and Albert the Muffin-Maker introduces ordinal numbers. See all the titles at the website.  Cute and funny.

 MATH CONCEPTS

 imgres-30 Suzanne Aker’s What Comes in 2s, 3s, and 4s (Aladdin, 1992) in a picture-book introduction to sets – starting with your own two eyes, two ears, two arms, and two legs. For ages 2-5.
 imgres-31 In Margarette S. Reid’s The Button Box (Puffin, 1995), a little boy gets out his grandmother’s enormous button box and begins to play, sorting the buttons into rows and piles – all the flower-painted china ones, all the sparkly jewel-like ones, and so on. There’s not much to it, but it would be great paired with an actual button box. (Got one?) For ages 3-6.
 imgres-32 Eve Merriam’s 12 Ways to Get to 11 (Aladdin, 1996) is a clever twist on the counting book, showing 12 different combinations of things that all add up to 11: 9 pine cones and 2 acorns, for example; or 4 flags + 5 rabbits + 1 pitcher of water + 1 bouquet of flowers, all pulled from a magician’s hat. For ages 3-7.
 imgres-33 In Kathryn Cristaldi’s Even Steven and Odd Todd (Cartwheel, 1996), Todd is definitely odd, in that he insists everything come out even, from his breakfast pancakes to the fish in his goldfish bowl. Then cousin Odd Todd arrives, who prefers his numbers odd. Eventually all works out – and the book ends with a handful of questions and simple activities on even and odd numbers. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-34 Michael Dahl’s Eggs and Legs (Nonfiction Picture Books, 2005) is a clever exercise in learning to count by twos, as a hen watches pairs of legs emerge from hatching eggs. Also see Dahl’s Lots of Ladybugs: Counting by Fives and Toasty Toes: Counting by Tens. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-35 In Lily Toy Hong’s Chinese folktale Two of Everything (Albert Whitman & Company, 1993), Mr. Haktak unearths an ancient pot in the garden that turns out, miraculously, to double anything placed inside it. He and Mrs. Haktak happily double their money (again and again), but then Mrs. Haktak herself falls into the pot. And doubles. For ages 4-8.
 images-9 In Stuart J. Murphy’s Double the Ducks (HarperCollins, 2002), a pint-sized cowboy is caring for his flock of five ducks. Then each duck brings home a friend, which means twice as much food, twice as much bedding, and twice as much work. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-36 Cynthia DeFelice’s One Potato, Two Potato (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2006) is an Irish version of the doubling story, in which Mr. and Mrs. O’Grady are so ragged and poor that they have only one of everything – one potato for dinner, one blanket on their bed, one chair to sit in, and one winter coat. Until, that is, Mr. O’Grady finds a magic pot, that doubles everything put inside. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-37 In Pat Hutchins’s The Doorbell Rang (Greenwillow, 1989), Sam and Victoria have just divided one dozen of their mother’s freshly baked cookies, when the doorbell starts ringing and more and more friends arrive. With each new guest, the dozen cookies must be divided all over again. An exercise in beginning division (and sharing) for ages 4-8.
 imgres-38 Paul Giganti’s Each Orange Had Eight Slices (Greenwillow, 1999) is a simple  picture-book introduction to counting, addition and, by extension, multiplication. (“On my way to the zoo I saw 3 waddling ducks. Each duck had 4 baby ducks trailing behing, Each duck said, “QUACK, QUACK, QUACK.” So: how many ducks, how many baby ducks, how many quacks? For ages 4-8.
 imgres-39 In Elinor J. Pinczes’s One Hundred Hungry Ants (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1999), a tale of division, one hundred ants are headed toward a picnic when they are halted by one mathematically minded ant, who suggests that they will get food more efficiently if they split up into ranks. Obediently the ants rearrange themselves in groups of 50, 25, 10, and so on – only to discover by the time they’ve finished that the picnickers have packed up and left.  For ages 4-8.
 imgres-40 Also by Pinczes is A Remainder of One (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2002), in which the ants struggle to form even ranks to march in the big parade. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-41 Margaret Mahy’s rhyming 17 Kings and 42 Elephants (Dial, 1987) features a royal procession through the jungle in which 17 kings and 42 elephants meet a tongue-twisting array of animals. A fun romp with potential for problem-solving. (How to divide 42 elephants among 17 kings?) For ages 4-8.
 imgres-42 In Mitsumasa Anno’s Anno’s Magic Seeds (Puffin, 1999), Jack meets a wizard who gives him two golden seeds, telling him to plant one and eat the other (“You will not be hungry again for a whole year”).  Jack does, and the seed grows into a lovely blue-flowered plant that produces two seeds. Eventually Jack decides to eat something different for a change, and so plants both seeds, getting two plants and a harvest of four seeds. This time he eats one and plants three – and things rapidly multiply, becoming more and more complicated. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-43 Laura Overdeck’s Bedtime Math (Falwel & Friends, 2013) is a cute idea – if bedtime stories, why not bedtime math? Each chapter starts by with a kid-friendly topic – Lego bricks, dog-walking, cookies, sticky ketchup bottles – and then goes on to pose three math problems at increasing levels of difficulty. The reviews have been very positive. I, however, was disappointed – there’s not much in the way of math-interesting detail in the lead-ins, and the problems, though catchily worded, are workbook-type arithmetic problems. (“If you squirt 2 cups of ketchup and each cup used 14 tomatoes, how many tomatoes’ worth of ketchup did you just squirt?”) For ages 3-7.
 imgres-44 Greg Tang is a master of math riddles, and his books – written in catchy rhyme – encourage kids to identify patterns and combinations and to devise effective problem-solving strategies. Titles include The Grapes of Math (Scholastic, 2004), Math for All Seasons, and Math Potatoes. For ages 4-8.
  See Greg Tang Math for online versions of the books and many brain-boosting math games and puzzles.
 images-10 By Masaichiro Anno and Mitsumasa Anno, Anno’s Mysterious Multiplying Jar (Penguin Putnam, 1999) is a wonderful introduction to the concept of factorials through the medium of a blue-and-white Oriental jar. The jar, opened, contains an ocean in which there are two islands. Each island has two countries; each country has three mountains; on each mountain, there are four walled kingdoms; and so on. A gorgeous multiplication problem ending up with a phenomenal number of jars. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-45 Amanda Bean, main character of Cindy Neuschwander’s Amanda Bean’s Amazing Dream (Scholastic, 1998), loves to count, but she’s not at all interested in learning her multiplication facts. Until, that is, she has a dream in which eight sheep on bicycles each buy five balls of yarn, and the resultant counting confusion reveals the usefulness of learning how to multiply. The book’s cartoon-style illustrations are crammed with things to count (and multiply), from lollipops to windowpanes to puffy bushes in the park. For ages 5-8.
 imgres-46 In Marilyn Burns’s The Greedy Triangle (Scholastic, 1998), the greedy triangle wants more than just three sides and three angles. With the help of the local shapeshifter, he acquires more and more, becoming in turn a quadrilateral, pentagon, hexagon, heptagon, and octagon before finally deciding that life as a triangle was really the best of all. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-47 In Ann Tompert’s Grandfather Tang’s Story (Dragonfly, 1997), a Chinese grandfather tells his little granddaughter a story about a pair of magical shape-changing foxes, illustrating the story with geometrical tangram puzzle pieces. The book includes a reproducible tangram template for making a set of your own. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-48 From ABCYa.com. Tangrams for Kids has tangram puzzles to solve online. Click and drag to rearrange the shapes. Also see Tangram Game from PBS Kids.
  From the Museum of Play, Tangrams has both an online game and a set of colorful printable tangrams.
 imgres-49 In Duncan Birmingham’s Look Twice (Tarquin, 1993), readers use an enclosed mirror card to turn a pair of identical objects into a pair of opposites. A fun study in symmetry for ages 4-8.
 imgres-50 Also see Birmingham’s M is for Mirror (Tarquin, 1988).
 imgres-51 Bruce Goldstone’s That’s a Possibility! (Henry Holt and Company, 2013) is an introduction to probability, using an interactive question-and-answer format and bright color photographs to discuss concepts of possible, probable, improbable, and certain. For example, a teddy bear has ten shirts and ten pairs of pants, which combine to make 100 different outfits – so it’s unlikely (100 to 1) that anyone can correctly guess what outfit he’s going to wear. For ages 5-9.
 imgres-52 In Lauren Leedy’s The Great Graph Contest (Holiday House, 2006), Chester (a snail) is monitoring a contest between friends Beezy (a lizard) and Gonk (a toad) over who can make the best graph. In the process, the friend explore data collection processes and many different kinds of graphs, among them bar graphs, pie graphs, pictographs, and Venn diagrams. For ages 5-8.
 imgres-53 Ann Whitehead Nagda’s Polar Bear Math (Square Fish, 2007) is a real-life exercise in fractions based on data from two polar bear cubs born at the Denver Zoo. Each double-page spread includes a page of data – how to mix polar-bear formula, for example – while the facing page tells the story of the bears, illustrated with photographs. For ages 6-9.
 imgres-54 Also by Ann Whitehead Nagda, in Cheetah Math (Henry Holt and Company, 2007) kids learn division with real-life data from a pair of cheetah cubs; Tiger Math (Square Fish, 2002) in which kids learn to graph by tracking the growth of a tiger cub; and Chimp Math (2002), in which readers learn to keep time records.
 images-11 Check out 10 Best Books for Teaching Graphs.

HANDS-ON MATH

 imgres-55 By Yelena McManaman and Maria Droujkova, Moebius Noodles (Delta Stream Media, 2014) – subtitled “Adventurous Math for the Playground Crowd” – is a 80+-page collection of games and investigations for kids, plus helpful hints for parents hoping to provide a mind-expanding math environment. The book is divided into four sections: Symmetry, Quantity, Function, and Grid. Kids learn real math terms – say, transitive property – through play. Delightful, substantive, and sensible. For ages 1 and up.
 images-12 The Mother Goose Programs, developed by the Vermont Center for the Book, pair math- and science-related pictures book with open-ended investigative experiments and hands-on activities. Excellent for ages 3-5.
 imgres-56 Associated with the Mother Goose Programs is the What’s the BIG Idea? workbook series, a collection of six creatively interactive books designed to get kids excited about and involved in science and math. The books – crammed with hands-on activities and games – are illustrated with a mix of big bright-colored drawings and photo collage, and each comes with a companion CD featuring an appropriately themed picture book, printable activity cards and manipulatives, and a resource list. The books also include complete parent/teacher instructions, lots of extension suggestions, and an answer key. Titles are Counting (with Rick Walton’s How Many, How Many, How Many), Measuring (with Susan Hightower’s Twelve Snails to One Lizard), Shapes (with Dayle Ann Dodds’s The Shape of Things), Patterns (with Trudy Harris’s Pattern Fish), Sorting (with W. Nikola-Lisa’s Bein’ with You This Way), and Maps (with Pat Hutchins’s Rosie’s Walk).
 images-13 Family Math for Young Children (Grace Coates and Jean Stenmark; Lawrence Hall of Science, 1997) is a creative investigative approach to early math, concentrating on such skills as counting, estimating, comparing, measuring, shape recognition, directions, logic, and sorting. Sample activities include making jigsaw puzzles, making (and sorting) a stamp collection, making and playing number games, playing shadow games, measuring yourself (and family and friends) with adding machine tape, and designing a quilt patch. All instructions, game boards, matching cards, and number charts are included in the book. For each activity, there’s an explanation of the math skills involved, a materials list, and complete instructions. For ages 3-7.
 imgres-57 Margaret McNamara’s How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? (Schwartz and Wade, 2007) turns into a mathematical guessing game as the kids in Mr. Tiffin’s class try to figure out how many seeds are in large, small, and middle-sized pumpkins (A million? 500? 22?) Finally they cut the pumpkins open, scoop out the seeds, and count them, which is (1) messy and (2) the most straightforward way to find out. For ages 4-8.
For a mathematical lesson plan on pumpkins and pumpkin seeds, see Pumpkin Exploration.
There are dozens of sources for commercial math manipulatives and hands-on kits. A good starting point is Learning Resources, which sells dozens, including plastic counters, pattern blocks, tangrams, magnetic numbers, base-ten blocks, balances, and more.
Also see eNASCO or check out math manipulatives at Amazon.

MATH AROUND THE WORLD

 imgres-59 Quentin Blake’s Ten Frogs/Dix Grenouilles (Anova Books, 2008) is a French/English animal counting book, running from one crow (that is, un corbeau) to 100 wasps. For ages 3-7.
 imgres-60 In Yuyi Morales’s Mexican-themed Just a Minute (Chronicle Books, 2003), a skeleton arrives at Grandma Beetle’s door, demanding that she “come along.” Grandma, however, cleverly puts him off with a series of (countable) chores: she has one house to sweep, two pots of tea to brew, three pounds of corn to make into tortillas, and nine grandchildren to invite to her birthday party. Children plus skeleton – guest number ten – have such a wonderful time that the skeleton decides that Grandma doesn’t need to come along after all. Readers learn to count to ten in both English and Spanish. For ages 4-7.
 imgres-61 In Lezlie Evans’s Can You Count Ten Toes? (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2004), readers learn to count to ten in ten different languages: Spanish, French, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Tagalog, Russian, Hindi, Hebrew, and Zulu. Included are phonetic pronunciations for each number word and a map showing where the featured languages are spoken. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-62 By Muriel Feelings, Moja Means One (Puffin, 1992) is a Swahili counting book, in which kids learn numbers 1-10 in Swahili as well as interesting facts about the land and culture of East Africa. The book begins with one impressive Mount Kilimanjaro, and continues through two kids playing a game of Mankala, three coffee trees, and so on, culminating in a group of ten children listening to a traditional storyteller. With lovely earth-toned illustrations by Tom Feelings. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-63 In Andrea Cheng’s Grandfather Counts (Lee & Low, 2003), Helen’s grandfather, newly arrived in America from China, speaks no English and Helen and her siblings speak no Chinese.  Gradually, though, as they watch passing trains together, her grandfather begins to teach Helen to count in Chinese, while she teaches him to count in English. A lovely story of an intergenerational relationship (with counting). For ages 4-8.
Learn how to count in 21 languages with this great Count the Animals app.

ROMAN NUMERALS

 imgres-64 Arthur Geisert’s Roman Numerals I to MM (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2001) is a clever and witty introduction to Roman numerals with lots and lots of cavorting pigs. Delightful for ages 5-8.
 images-14 David A. Adler’s picture book Fun With Roman Numerals (Holiday House, 2010) is an attractively illustrated explanation of Roman numerals and their uses today. For ages 7-10.
From ABCYa, Roman Numerals is an online game that teaches Roman numerals (while rebuilding a collapsed Roman temple).
 images-15 Roman Numerals Games has dozens of games for learning Roman numerals, variously grouped from 1-10, 1-20, 1-100, and 1-1000+.
Try this online Roman Numeral Converter, which runs from 1 to 4999.
From Math Is Fun, Roman Numerals has an explanation of the symbols and their combinations, rules for forming numbers, how to write really big numbers (up to a million), and a couple of handy mnemonics for remembering what’s what.

MATH AND ART

 imgres-65 From the San Antonio Museum of Art, 123 Si! (Trinity University Press, 2011) is a counting book illustrated with color photos of art works from the Museum, among them Mexican puppets, Olmec clay statuettes, and Korean pen-and-ink tigers. For ages 3-6.
 imgres-66 In Lucy Mickelthwait’s I Spy Two Eyes: Numbers in Art (HarperTeen, 1993) readers search for objects in classical works of art, from 1 fly and 2 eyes to 12 squirrels, 17 birds, and 20 angels. For ages 4-7.

 MATH ANXIETY

 imgres-67 In Mark Pett’s The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes (Sourcebook Jabberwocky, 2011), nine-year-old Beatrice never ever makes a mistake (unlike little brother Carl, who eats crayons). In fact, Beatrice is absolutely perfect, until the day of the annual talent show, when she makes a colossal and very public mistake. And discovers that it’s not the end of the world. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-68 In Joan Horton’s rhyming Math Attack! (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2009), a little girl – at her wit’s end when her teacher asks for the answer to seven times ten – has a math attack: numbers EXPLODE out of her head and wreak havoc all over town, disrupting everything from the prices in the supermarket to the helicopters of the National Guard. Finally she gets the answer, and all goes back to normal. For ages 5-9.
 imgres-69 In Danny Schnitzlein’s The Monster Who Did My Math (Peachtree Publishers, 2012), a math-hating kid is struggling with his impossible multiplication homework when a monster arrives and offers to take care of it for him – all he has to do is sign the contract on the dotted line. All is well until the teacher sends him to the blackboard, and he discovers the contract’s fine print (“In paragraph seven of clause ninety-three/If you don’t learn anything, do not blame me!”). And then, as in all Faustian bargains, he has to come up with the pay-off. Which involves some math. For ages 6-8.
 imgres-70 Barbara Esham’s Last to Finish (Mainstream Connections Publishing, 2008), one of the Adventures of Everyday Geniuses series, features third-grader Max who has always liked math – but falls apart when his teacher starts giving the class timed tests. Max is miserable. Eventually, however, the teacher discovers that Max has been working problems from his older brother’s algebra book (for fun), and Max ends up on the school math team. A nice reminder that different kids learn in very different ways. For ages 6-9.

 JUST FOR FUN

 imgres-71 Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s Wumbers (Chronicle Books, 2012), with bright cartoonish illustrations by Tom Lichtenheld, is a picture book for the text-messaging generation. Wumbers are words spelled with sound-alike numbers, familiar to anyone who has ever texted “gr8!” For example, try these: At a tea party (attended by a teddy bear and two little girls in purple): “Would you like some honey 2 swee10 your tea?” “Yes, that would be 1derful.” At a family picnic: “We have the 2na salad and the pl8s. What have we 4gotten?” (Dismay!)“The 4ks!” Fun creative word puzzles for beginning readers ages 5-8.

 

For much more, see MATH II.

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One Comment

  1. Posted March 20, 2014 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Thanks so much for including Bedtime Math in your great list of math books. For more Bedtime Math fun, join us on:

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    Have a great day!

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