Reading with your child is an excellent way to increase phonics, math, and many other skills. Stories and pictures provide opportunities to practice skills such as counting, introduce new skills or topics and even provide opportunities to model mathematical thinking.
Some early mathematical ideas that can be introduced and practice with you child with books include the following:
- Basic operations and mathematical thinking
Not sure where to begin with using pictures books with children?
We have some tips to help you start incorporating math skills easily into everyday reading. Curl up with your child with a good book and let’s practice some math skills.
1) Choose a picture book that is colorful and engaging
If you choose a math photo book, look for clear illustrations, an interesting, engaging story, colorful characters, rich language and situations to think about. In short, if you love a book, your children will have fun as well.
Certain books lend themselves to certain math concepts like counting, addition, etc.
2) Keep close when reading
Have your child sit in your lap or right next to you. Give your reading a chance to communicate with your children and develop a love of reading and math. Don’t make reading an unwanted lesson.
3) Ask guiding questions to enforce mathematical concepts.
Expand your child’s math vocabulary by learning and discussing how numbers appear and are written in a book. “Look, there are two bears. That number says two. ”You can also encourage your child to see different shapes and patterns in the book. “What’s the shape?” “Look, there’s a red bear and then a blue bear. what’s next?
4) Model the answer to questions (especially if the child is too young or just learning)
Modeling is the key to teaching children at any age, but especially young children.
Ask a question, like “How many bears are on this page?”
Then, just answer it yourself by showing “how” you would go about the answer. For something simple like counting, count and point to the bears on the page to show the “how” to count and process of counting, while also reinforcing the concept of 1:1 correspondence, while we are counting.
5) Encourage children to think out loud.
Modeling is important so kids understand your thought process and the same things is true for children. If you model the think out loud process, they usually do as well and will continue doing this strategy.
However, if you are working with kids and they just jump in with answer without an explanation – ask them to explain how they arrived at their answer. Kids that can explain or teach their answers are at a higher level of learning than kids that just know the answer.
6) Reinforce the ideas from the book in everyday life.
Connect the objects from picture books to everyday life to continue the practice outside of the story. See caps from Caps For Sale at the store, try counting some of the caps. Notice a pattern or shape from one of your favorite stories – point it out and remind your child of the story.
Let alone does this provide learning outside of the first learning environment and in a new environment, it reinforces the concept that these math skills are used in everyday life.
7) Follow the interests of your children.
If your child is obsessed with trains, then read train stories. Same thing with unicorns, fairies, etc. Keeping your child’s interest before even opening the book will make it easier to hold their interest through the story.
Some kids are so excited that adults are taking an interest in their favorite things – that they won’t even realize that they are learning!
8) Read with passion.
Be dramatic when reading. Use a different voice for different characters. Dramatize different emotions such as fear, complacency, mistrust, stupidity, etc. Your child will enjoy your theatrical performance while the picture book
9) Read the book again. and again, and again.
When reading the book for the first time, you want to make sure that the child understands the whole story. Then, when you read the books again, it will help you and your children focus more on mathematical concepts.
“Yes, the square has four sides, but what else do you see?”
Repeated reading can reinforce what your child has already learned and encourage them to explore new ideas.
As well as, children may automatically point out the square in that spot every time you read the story and even with different people. If children really love a story and have read it many times over, it might be time for them to ask you to find shapes, number of patterns instead.
10) Enjoy the stories and have fun.
An important purpose of reading picture books is for children to enjoy a shared book reading experience. Try not to focus so much on learning math that you forget to read with the kids.
Reading should be a fun experience and an intellectual adventure for both of you!