What is math literacy?
“Early Math Strategy: The Report of the Expert Panel on Early Math in Ontario” tells us that, like reading and writing, the ability to understand and use mathematical concepts begins very early in life. “Early mathematics understanding has a profound effect on mathematical proficiency in the later years. … A positive attitude towards mathematics, an understanding of key concepts, and mathematical skills must be developed in the early grades.” (2003, p. 1)
Children, however, need active learning opportunities to understand math. Math only makes sense when young children can pick it up, look at it, manipulate it, talk about it, think about it and discuss it.
Children’s picture books provide a comfortable and accessible format for parents and early childhood educators to introduce math concepts using active learning strategies. Children’s picture books can show children that mathematics is part of their everyday, familiar world; that it’s fun and exciting to discover math.
The Ontario Ministry of Education’s math curriculum for elementary school students identifies five unique mathematical concepts or strands:
- Numbers and numeracy
- Spatial awareness and geometry
- Patterning and algebra
- Data management and probability
One of these strands is highlighted in the following children’s picture books:
- Numbers and numeracy in “One Gorilla” By Atsuko Morozumi
- Spatial awareness and geometry in “The Greedy Triangle” by Marilyn Burns
- Measurement in “Best Bug Parade” by Stuart Murphy
- Patterning and algebra in “Beep Beep, Vroom Vroom!” by Stuart Murphy
- Data management and probability in “Hannah and the Seven Dresses” by Marthe Jocelyn
Click on the title of each book to find a brief overview of one of the math strands, story-sharing ideas, extended activities for toddlers and preschoolers, and websites and book recommendations to further support exploration of each math strand.
Each book title includes three pages of math ideas to support teachers and parents in their work with young children. The pages are designed for double-sided copying. Pages 1 and 2 are appropriate for early learning and childcare settings. Pages 1 and 3 are intended for use at home.