I will never forget my first day in my Reading Across the Curriculum masters class. The goal and purpose of the class was to learn how to integrate reading and good books into any and all classrooms. As a future math teacher, I scoffed at this frustrating requirement. “This is great. This class will be relevant to everyone but me. How unfair! How unnecessary!” I would complain.
And then the class began. It was one of the most useful classes of my educational journey and I discovered that there are wonderful math books that beautifully weave math into fun, engaging stories! I am sure elementary teachers are much more aware of some of these great books, but there are also many out there that I was able to incorporate into the middle school math class!
There are so many reasons why teaching math through math stories can be helpful to students.
Here are 5 reasons to incorporate reading into Math class:
1. It’s Engaging
Students can get excited about the characters and excited to engage in the story with them (not even realizing that they are thinking about math along the way).
2. It Makes the Math Less Intimidating
With fun stories and simple explanations, kids can discover and understand difficult math topics in a more meaningful way. Often, math stories will teach a particular math skill in the context of a real life situation, and suddenly, something that didn’t make sense is being put to use in a context that kids can understand.
3. It Presents a Topic in a New Way
It never hurts to present complex math concepts in various ways. Especially if it is a concept that kids are struggling with. Seeing it presented in story form may be just the thing a student needs to finally “get it.”
4. It Encourages Meaningful Math Discussions
Reading about the math in the context of a story will more naturally encourage deep math discussions, even among young children. They will want to discuss the characters problems and possible solutions, what they thought about the methods used, or maybe other ways that they could have solved things.
5. It Makes Math Real and Relevant
Lastly, math stories make math real, meaningful and relevant, without any work on the part of the teacher! What a great and easy way to engage students in a particular topic without a lot of prep or work. 🙂
So yes, I have come to LOVE incorporating great books into the math classroom! There are so many fun, engaging math story books out there, so I have just listed a few of my favorites below. For more options, great reviews and lists sorted by topic, check out The Best Children’s Books page.
Here are some of my favorite Math Story Books:
If You Made a Million by David Schwartz, as well as several of Schwartz’s other books
The King’s Chessboard by David Birch (This presents a classic math problem that I have used with high school seniors!)
Any and All of the Sir Cumference Books by Cindy Neuschwander (These are so great for introducing geometry topics!)
The Lion’s Share by Matthew McElligott
Fun with Roman Numerals by David Adler
And lastly, one of my very favorites:
Math Curse by Jon Scieszka
In order to help you incorporate some of these fun stories into your math curriculum, I create lessons and activities to go along with them! I’m so excited and I hope you will find these resources fun and helpful! To see the lessons I’ve created so far, check out this elementary math page.
How do you incorporate reading and stories into math class? What are some of your favorite math stories? Share in the comments!
~Math Geek Mama
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