Math Story Books

I really enjoy using math story books to introduce tricky concepts in my lessons. My students find them engaging and they really help to bring concepts to life and put them into context. Here are three of my favorite math story book I like to use in the classroom.

How Big is a Million?

by Anna Milbourne

Skills: Value of large numbers

This beautifully illustrated book tells the story of Pipkin the penguin and his quest to discover exactly how big one million is. On his way, he finds ten fish, one hundred penguins and one thousand snowflakes, each one individually illustrated to show students exactly how big these large numbers are. At the end he discovers one million stars, each one of them illustrated on a giant poster. I love using this book to help students grasp the value of large numbers and they find the poster at the end particularly fascinating.


One is a Snail, Ten is a Crab

by April Pulley Sayre and Jeffrey Sayre

Skills: Multiplication

Addition facts

I love using this book for investigations. One is a snail, two is a person, four is a dog… this book is all about feet! This book introduces the reader to different characters and their number of feet. It also introduces a number and the possible characters that it could be referring to, i.e. three is a snail and and a person, 20 is two crabs etc. I use this book to reinforce multiplication and addition facts. I give my students a number of feet, i.e. 18, and challenge them find all the different possible combinations of characters whose feet could total this number. Not only is this activity great for reinforcing multiplication and addition facts, it also helps student develop logical thinking and problem solving skills.


Spaghetti and Meatballs For All!

by Marilyn Burns

Skills: Area and Perimeter

Mr and Mrs Comfort have invited their family round for spaghetti and meatballs. All 32 of them! Mrs Comfort rents 8 tables to seat her family round, with four seats around each table. However, when the family begin to arrive they begin to push tables together to sit closer to each other, but not all the family will now fit! This book is great for using as a basis for investigating the possible arrangements of the tables, so all the family have a seat. Students can experiment with more than eight tables and find different combinations for the seating plan. It is great for demonstrating that shapes with the same area do not always have the same perimeter. I also like to use manipulatives of card squares to help students in their investigation.

Have you used Math story books in the classroom? I’d love to hear about your favorites!