Connecting Math and Literature

Why should I connect math and literature? Literature will help students address the eight standards for mathematical practice. Remember that these practices are not what the teacher will do; these are things that students need to be able to do as fluent mathematicians.

Here are some great ideas for connecting mathematics instruction with children’s literature. Thanks to TL Connected for these great resources at NCCTM 2012.

1. Stand Up / Sit Down: As you read a story aloud to your students have them listen for specific mathematics attributes and stand up or sit down. For example, if you hear a prime number stand up, if you hear a composite number, sit down. Or, if you hear a shape that is a quadrilateral stand up. If it is a triangle, sit down.

2. “Smart” by Shel Silverstein: (PDF) Have students consider the point of the poem. They can also write out the mathematical proof in her defense. Infer what her dad is really thinking. Support his thinking with proof. Additional Shel Silverstein poems and questions are also available from TL Connected.

3. Psychic Math: Have students think of a 4 digit numbers. They earn points by meeting certain place value criteria. Love this! Once you have checked it with your students, have them generate a list of the possibilities to earn the greatest number of points. (see page 5 of  handout packet) The activity came from this book – it looks awesome, despite the title’s relationship to testing.

4. Marilyn Burns: Check out these favorites –  Spaghetti and Meatballs for All and The Greedy Triangle. The Brainy Day series is highly recommended! Here’s a great version of The Greedy Triangle as a Reader’s Theater Script. Here some additional resources for a foldable to go along with The Greedy Triangle.  I love this lesson for Spaghetti and Meatballs for All, too. Instead of showing the kids the illustrations from the original book, you can hand out 1″ square tiles and have kids generate areas and perimeters as you read the story.

5. Counting on Frank: Relating to Volume lesson from NCTM (p. 7 & 8)


And don’t forget these great resources from Discovery Education…

Reading Rainbow: The Math Curse

Math in Context: a collection of ideas and activities organized by the teaching and learning experts at DE