Category Archives: Math in Storytimes

Thanksgiving Fun

Kathy and I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, and to express our thanks to our followers!

In order to celebrate the season, we suggest reading I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie, by Alison Jackson.  New York, Dutton Children’s Books, 1997.  This wonderful circle story with rhyming text describes how the old lady devours the Thanksgiving feast and grows larger and larger until the unexpected happens!  After reading the story, try some of the following activities with your group.

Reinforce math skills with a Pie Chart.

1.  On a piece of large paper or poster board, create a simple chart with three pies listed across the top; apple, pumpkin, and chocolate.

2.  Give each child in the group a sticker and have them place the sticker in the column with their favorite pie.

3.  Touch and count the number of stickers in each column aloud with the group.  Write the total at the bottom of the column.

4.  After all the columns are counted, ask the group which was the favorite pie.  Review the number of stickers in each column with the children.

Reinforce early literacy skills by retelling the story.  Cut food pictures out of magazines or find clip art online and distribute the food pictures to the children.  As you retell the story have each child bring up their food item.

Reinforce early literacy skills by creating extensions.  Ask the children what they will have for dinner at their Thanksgiving feast.  Do they have a favorite item that they would want to keep eating?

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Leaves Make Math Fun!

With the leaves falling in your backyard, it’s a wonderful time to integrate a math activity into your Fall or Leaf storytime.

  • Collect a variety of leaves from your yard or neighborhood a week or two prior to the storytime.  Make sure they vary in color, size, and type of tree (oak, maple, etc.).
  • Dry the leaves by laying them flat between pages of newspaper.  Placing books on them will help the leaves dry flat.  The dried leaves should keep their color.
  • Once leaves are dry, place an assortment in a baggie, making sure that there are some of the same color, size, and variety in each bag.  Make sure you have enough bags for each child in the storytime.
  • Pass out bags of leaves to the children.  Ask the children to do a variety of tasks:  count the leaves, group them by color, group them by type, create a pattern (red, brown, yellow, green).  This will reinforce many of the early skills needed for children to succeed in math in school.
  • When you are done with the leaves, give each child a blank piece of paper and glue stick, and have them create a leaf man or other picture using their leaves.

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Programming Puzzler: How do you incorporate math and science into your storytimes?

We posed this question to our newsletter readers:

With math and science benchmarks playing an ever-more important role in early childhood education, librarians are often expected to incorporate these concepts in conscious way into storytimes.  How do you incorporate meaningful math and science concepts into your storytime activities?

“Introduce simple graphing…..when doing colors, have bags of M and M’s available. Have a simple graph with the colors listed available (we have one we found online sometime back). Have participants count the numbers of each color and record on the graph. Or do this in front of the whole group and have small bags for participants to eat. Graph other things….do you like red, yellow, or green apples? Do you like snow or not? What Easter/Halloweencandy is your favorite?” -Barbara S.

“I started a monthly program that is history or science based for kids 7 to 14. We offer programs for babies, preschool kids and teens but there was nothing for the in-between ages. The mummy program has been the biggest hit so far. There was a slideshow of actual mummies and artifacts, an online game that showed how Egyptians embalmed their dead, and the kids got to dissect a mummy that I made. I have kids that talk to me about it months later.” -Elizabeth L.

Kathy and Christine say:

Incorporating math and science into your regular storytimes is easier than you think! Here are some simple ideas:

  • Invite children to count the objects placed on the flannelboard. With preschoolers, pose simple math problems, such as, “If I take away one apple, how many will be left?” Use the tangible objects to make the math come alive.
  • Graph the objects. Create columns of like objects then count them. Ask the children which object had the most?
  • When doing crafts, count how many objects you’re gluing on or how many colors you’re using.
  • You have to count your storytime attendees for your statistics, so why not make it part of the program? Invite the kids to count along with you as you count attendees. For family programs, count how many kids and how many adults, then ask the kids to compare the numbers – were there more children or adults? Write the number on a whiteboard or chalkboard so children can connect the written and spoken forms of the numbers.
  • In a color storytime, discuss the primary colors and how to mix them to create secondary colors.
  • In a weather storytime, practice blowing bubbles or scarves and discuss wind and what makes a windy day. Is it snowing? Talk about what the temperature needs to be to snow.