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Math-themed Children’s Books & Learning Activities for Preschool & Pre-K

Apr 13, 2023    |   Children’s BooksMath & Numeracy

Reading math-themed children’s books to the little ones in your program is a great way to introduce them to foundational skills like counting, number-sense, comparison, pattern recognition, and more! In this article, we share some popular math-themed children’s books and pair each of them with an engaging learning activity to enjoy with the children in your care. 

Numbers Everywhere

This rhyming children’s book explores the shapes of different numbers with simple and engaging illustrations. The story encourages children to look for hidden numeral shapes throughout the book, such as, “a tall straight line Is number one. A rocket headed towards the sun!” This story’s creative descriptions of individual numbers offers an enjoyable way for children to practice number recognition.

Pick up this book from your local library, or find a free read-aloud of this children’s book here.

An Activity to Pair with Numbers Everywhere: Playdough Number Exploration

For this activity, all you will need is play dough, a tray, and number cookie cutters or magnetic numbers (or both, depending on what you have available). Place the numbers on a tray next to the playdough so that children can use them to imprint the numbers into the playdough. Encourage the children to look at the shape of the number and maybe even trace the numbers with their fingers to become more familiar with the different shapes.

As children pick up each of the different numbers, you can name the number and talk with the children about how many items the number represents. This will help little ones become more familiar with number recognition and one-to-one correspondence. You can also add other items like marbles to the activity so that you and the children can count the items until you reach the number imprinted on the playdough!

Again, Essie? 

This children’s book tells the story of a young boy named Rafael who wants to protect his toys from his little sister, Essie. He gathers materials from around the house to build a wall tall enough and wide enough to keep her out. As he builds, Rafael uses mathematical concepts such as physical space and geometry,  while also incorporating Spanish words.

Pick up this book from your local library, or find a free read-aloud on Youtube.

An Activity to Pair with Again, Essie: Giant Building Blocks Construction

For this activity, you’ll need several empty boxes of different sizes. (To collect boxes, you might want to plan this activity ahead and ask parents and family members to bring in a few boxes if they have any at home.) You’ll want to ensure that the boxes are taped closed before beginning the activity.

After reading Again Essie?, encourage children to make their own wall of boxes! See how tall and wide they can make it. As children are making the wall, incorporate math concepts into the activity by talking about the sizes of the various boxes and how they compare to each other.

Lia & Luís: Who Has More?

This children’s book shares the story of two siblings who try to figure out who has more food during snack time. The children compare the snacks by size, quantity, and weight to find the answer. This book is a great opportunity for children to learn about comparison, and the many different ways there are to compare items. While reading the story, you can introduce mathematical thinking and reasoning by encouraging the children to talk about the ways the siblings compare the items and whether  Lia or Luis has more of the snack. 

Pick up this book from your local library, or find a free read-aloud of this book on Youtube

An Activity to Pair with Lia and Luís: Bread & Jelly Snack Time Comparison

The early learning organization, DREME (Development and Research in Early Math Education) recommends pairing the following activity with this story.  Place one loaf of bread and one jar of jelly on a table, and ask the children to compare the items. There is one loaf and one jar, so the number of objects is the same. But there are many pieces of bread in a loaf, and only one jar of jelly. The loaf is longer, deeper, and wider than the jar and therefore has greater capacity. But the jar weighs more than the loaf. 

Encourage children to think of different ways to compare the items, before serving the bread and jelly for a tasty snack time treat. Try the activity again with other objects to see how they compare to one another!

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