Number Sense: Children’s Literature about Math

shapesI recently enrolled in a teacher education program. As a result, I have been learning about teaching math to young children. While I emphasized reading with my own kids, I always felt that math was a lesser priority. This is a mistake too many Americans make. Just as reading readiness is important for 4-year-olds, so is acquiring number sense, or an understanding of numbers and the ability to use them.

Here are four common preschool and kindergarten math topics, along with some great picture books that support them in a fun and stimulating manner. I am not including counting books in this post, but are many wonderful ones available that are more appropriate for younger children.

Addition and Subtraction
We have guinea pigs, and they are great pets. But, strangely, my daughter and I frequently have the same multiplying guinea pig nightmare. Maybe other people have this same dream, because I found several books about math featuring these furry creatures.

Guinea Pigs Add Up

One Guinea Pig Is Not Enough

Twenty is Too Many

Exponential growth is a difficult concept. No one describes it better than Demi in this brilliant and gorgeous book, One Grain Of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale. In it, a clever young woman asks a selfish ruler for a single grain of rice, which will be doubled every day for a month. In the end, the raja learns a lesson about generosity and math.

For more multiplying fun, Two of Everything  is about a pot that doubles everything that goes into it.


I recently learned that geometry is an under-taught and under-valued subject in many schools. It’s a shame because kids love shapes, and there are many excellent books and activities focusing on them. Here are a few of my favorites:

Shape – This book by David Goodman and Zoe Miller is colorful and interactive. Younger kids will enjoy the many bright and engaging images; older children will enjoy learning about concepts such as tangrams and symmetry.

So Many Circles, So Many Squares
by Tana Hoban lets kids find shapes in everyday scenes. Hoban also published several other shape based photography books, including:

Shapes, Shapes, Shapes
        Cubes, Cones, Cylinders, & Spheres

Extension Tip: After you read about geometry, have children combine shapes to fill the bottom of a box. This exercise builds spatial ability and geometric awareness.






Children are intrigued by money. Many of them have piggy banks and experience paying for small items. While some experts argue that money recognition is not mathematics, coin counting supports awareness of one-to-one correspondence and place value.

Here are four books that will have your child counting up coins in no time. The Coin Counting Book is a straight informational book, while the other three are stories that feature child-friendly economic transactions.

The Coin Counting Book

Pigs Will Be Pigs: Fun with Math and Money (Fun with Math & Money)

Bunny Money (Max and Ruby)

The Penny Pot

Extension Tip: For easier coin counting, create a ten-frame out of an egg carton. Fill each of the cups of egg carton with one penny each. Count out 10 cents a total of 10 times to make a dollar. Later, fill each of the cups of egg carton with 1 dime each.  Counting by ones, count out ten dimes or $1. If your child is still interested, fill each of the cups of egg carton with 2 nickels each.  Counting by twos, count out twenty nickels or $1.


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Magnificent Model Magic Museum

My two children have spent many hours over the past year making objects out of a clay compound known as Model Magic. My 9-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son mix blue, red, yellow, and white to create a variety of colors. For beginners interested in trying some of these projects, I recommend purchasing Crayola 57-4415 Model Magic Modeling Compound, 2-lb. Bucket, Asstd Colors, Four 8-oz. Pouches, but our family uses so much that we actually purchase the Class Pack. If you would like more colors to choose from, you can also try the Deluxe Variety Pack.

The Gallery

Here are some scenes my kids created using Model Magic, my daughter’s artwork and various items.

Clay Woodland Minpins

Woodland Minpins

Clay Fairy

Fairy in the Land of Mushrooms

Clay Gnomes

Gnomes in Front of Their Acorn House

Clay Wizard

The Wizard Crescent Moon

Clay Baby Troll

Baby Troll

Model Magic Mermaid

Mermaid Under the Sea

Model Magic Eskimos

Eskimo Family

Model Magic Native American

Iroquois Longhouse

Model Magic Owl

Majestic Snowy Owl

Model Magic Camping


Clay Winter Scene

Ice Skaters on a Frozen Lake

Clay Christmas

Christmas in Santa’s Workshop

Clay Baymax Nursery

Baymax Nursery

Clay Misfit Toys

Land of the Misfit Toys

Clay Robots

Robot Friends

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Create Your Own Paper Crafts with These 4 Activity Books!

Paper crafts have long been common in Japan and now they are becoming more popular in the U.S. as well, thanks to some amazing books that will entertain your children (or you), while promoting hand-eye coordination at the same time.

Papertoy Monsters: Make Your Very Own Amazing Papertoys!
Brian Castleforte
Ages 5+

My children received this title for Christmas and it was a huge hit. The book contains 50 pre- perforated monsters, ready to pop-up, fold and glue. Also included are 10 blank templates, and I wish the kit had included more, because my 5-year-old son really enjoys creating monsters from scratch. Eventually the kids made so many monsters that we needed to bring my daughter’s doll house downstairs to house them all. I like how this set is boy-friendly, while still appealing to girls. The kids love how each monster has a detailed story that accompanies it. A true winner!


My Book Of Easy Crafts
Ages 4+

Kumon is famous for their academic classes and workbooks. But they also produce beautiful crafting books for younger children. My Book of Easy Crafts contains many folding and cutting projects that are both educational and fun. Most four-year-olds will need extra help, but the results are worth the trouble!


My Book of Amazing Crafts (Kumon Workbooks)Kumon
Ages 5/6+

The crafts in this activity books are similar to My Book of Easy Crafts, but increase in difficulty. This was the first paper crafting book my daughter ever did and she has been hooked ever since.

Paper Wonderland: 32 Terribly Cute Toys Ready to Cut, Fold & Build
Michelle Romo
Ages 8+

This book is considerably more challenging than the others mentioned above. Some of the projects are so sophisticated that adults would find it challenging and enjoyable. For instance, one craft is a toaster that actually pops out little paper toast! That said, my 8-year-old daughter adores this book. She carefully constructed each item and took enormous pride in her accomplishments. 


Here are few more books that we have not yet tried, but plan on getting soon. Enjoy!

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