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7 Picture Books You Need to Have for Teaching Math Concepts

You’re not sure how to hook your math learners for the new unit. You scour the internet looking for ideas. How about reading a picture book about one of the math concepts you’re about to teach?

I’ve gathered a list of 7 picture books you should have for teaching math concepts.

Some of the books go along with activities that will make your intro lesson even more engaging.


Place Value by David Adler

I love this book for place value because Adler compares numbers to words. In 3rd grade, kids understand that words are made up of letters that go in a certain order. The order of letters in a word determines what the word says or means. The same goes for numbers. Depending on their order, the number could be large or small.


Multiplication: 2×2= Boo! By Loreen Leedy

We usually get to multiplication around October so this is the perfect book to use. The book is written as a set of “spooky” stories that go over multiplication facts up through 5. The stories aren’t spooky at all but it’s a fun way to start talking about those beginning multiplication facts.


Division: The Doorbell Rang by Pat Hutchins

I read this book and do one of my favorite division activities every year. In the story the mom makes 12 cookies for the two kids to share.

So in class, I give the kids 12 cereal cookies as manipulatives. They love this!

As I read we find out that the doorbell keeps ringing so they have to keep dividing up their share of cookies. As the events occur in the book, the kids use their cereal cookies to show the division problems that come up throughout the book.

After we finish the book, they get to eat their cereal. Eating our math problems is a lot of fun.


Elapsed Time: Scaredy Squirrel

Elapsed time is a difficult skill for students to grasp. Using the book Scaredy Squirrel is an engaging way to introduce finding the elapsed time between tasks.

In the story, Scaredy Squirrel never wants to leave the safety of his nut tree. This means he has the same schedule every single day. We use this schedule to find the elapsed time between each of his every day tasks.

After ending up out of his tree, Squirrel discovers something and his schedule changes. Now we find the elapsed time between the new tasks.


Area and Perimeter: Spaghetti and Meatballs For All

Just like with division, we use food along with the book Spaghetti and Meatballs for All. In the story, the family rearranges the table settings as more people arrive for spaghetti and meatballs.

To model that with food, I give the kids cheese-its to create the different table arrangements. You can read more about this area and perimeter activity here.


Geometry: The Greedy Triangle

This is a classic story to use when introducing geometry. In The Greedy Triangle, the triangle isn’t happy with his shape so he transforms into other polygons.

One of the parts I love is that it goes through some of the real-life places you might see each particular shape. As I read this book to my class, we use anglegs to create each new polygon and record them on an anchor chart.


Fractions: If You Were a Fraction

I wrote a post here about 5 books to use when teaching fractions. Check that out for more great finds. One of my favorites is If You Were a Fraction because it discusses fractions in real-life situations.

I’m forever adding to my list of picture books for teaching math concepts. Do you have a favorite or is there one on the list you’d like to try? Let me know in the comments!

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