Favorite books: Early Years Mathematics

Our reading choices regularly neglect mathematics.

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There are tons of books that we happily read to babies. Nostalgia runs deep for cute plots, fuzzy characters, and a bit of laughter.

In our standardized book choices, children receive critical lap-time that develops vocabulary, phonemic and phonological awareness, and all other facets of beginning literacy.

At the same time, we have a plethora of games that continue to build these same skills. Nursery rhymes, hand games, I Spy, etc. all work together to build the requirements and awareness for children to begin reading and writing.

We are building fundamental, incredibly important, building blocks. That is good. That is commendable and absolutely needed.

However, I am here to point out that there is only a bit of math, at times, there is not a focused look on mathematical practice. There is less intention when it comes to the foundations of mathematics.

In my experience, in normal non-school settings as well as school-settings, the same attention to the building blocks of mathematics is absent–maybe minimally present, at best.

We do not speak math. We do not practice math. We do not notice math. Certainly not with the same veracity as we do letters and sounds.

So, this list of favorite books is focused on mathematical practice and discussion. If we can get kids excited and interested about mathematics, as babies, imagine how many more mathematicians–meaning engineers, architects, coders–we can support and create for the world!

Favorite math books for babies:

  • ABCs of Mathematics by Chris Ferrie
  • Introductory Calculus for Infants by Omi Inouye

Favorite math books for young children:

  • The Shape of Things by Dayle Ann Dodds
  • The Greedy Triangle by Syd Hoff
  • Books by Tana Hoban (there are quite a few)
  • Chicka Chicka 1 2 3 by Bill Martin Jr. & Lois Ehlert
  • Books by Stuart J. Murphy (there are many!)
  • Teeth, Tails, & Tentacles by Christopher Wormell

Product Overview: The Birchbark House

Native American Heritage Month is November.

No study of American history is complete without looking at the experiences, culture, and contributions of this land’s original inhabitants.

A rich classroom library includes stories from every community, and authors from those communities.

With this in mind, I recommend The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich. I discovered Erdrich’s work in college and absolutely fell in love. I have read a number of her works and each one has been phenomenal.

I introduced some of Erdrich’s work in my 4th grade class, and even brought my personal books that my students borrowed, and they enjoyed them as well.

My desire to include a story that allowed for important discussion and reflection on colonization, and a different lens of American history, led me to create a book study on The Birchbark House.

This book is categorized as realistic fiction. The story touches on culture, language, and family. It is a great book to discuss colonization, cultural assimilation, and loss. It is also a great story to discuss strength and community.

My product, a complete novel unit, can begin in November and take you through winter break. This product includes vocabulary, comprehension questions, and added exercises for each chapter. There are even background building and extension activities suggested for this unit; it provides the opportunity for a depth and breadth of learning.

As with the Spider and the Fly, even if the product is not what you need, or what you want for your classroom right now, I recommend reading this book and any other work by Erdrich, it is truly worth the read.

Birchbark House

Product Overview: The Spider and the Fly

It’s that time of year when Halloween-themed texts and stories flood the library, and classrooms.

This time of year is a great moment in the year–routines have been set, diagnostic assessments are completed, the daily grind is in full swing, everyone is still excited and full of energy.

At this point, the days seem to have taken shape and order. There is growth already happening, and more growth on the horizon.

With all of this in mind, let us consider the power of thematic learning.

October has many possibilities: fall, harvest/farming, Day of the Dead, Halloween, and for Nevadans–Nevada History (Nevada Day is October 31st).

Thematic reading should be chosen carefully. Most teachers default to Halloween-themed books in October, which is fine, though I encourage everyone to sprinkle in something different now and again. One year, try something different!

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However, if we stick to Halloween, or scary-stuff, a book that is merely scary or fun, has its place, but time is precious so the place may not be the classroom. There are many standards to teach and master, so each moment needs to add value to our students’ growth and development.

Therefore, one October choice I highly recommend is The Spider and the Fly. It is one of my favorite picks for this time of year–it’s not exactly Halloween though it fits that theme, it has incredible vocabulary, and it is award-winning. Oh, and I happen to have a product for it too! 😉

In my Teacher Pay Teacher store: C is for Camacho I have a complete read-aloud lesson plan for 1-2 weeks of learning utilizing The Spider and the Fly. This product is focused on primary, prekindergarten-2nd grade, learning standards. It includes lessons for multiple reads so that each read has a different layer of targeted learning.

This product has vocabulary words, as well as comprehension questions and observations, that can be used, or modified, to meet learning goals. It is a full and complete guide that will allow for rigorous speaking, listening, reading, and writing learning in the classroom.

If you don’t want the lesson but are curious about the book, at the very least read it! It’s absolutely adorable–and it has a great lesson for all of us (a special thank you to the Spider for teaching us 😉).

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Favorite books: the Alphabet

There are entirely way too many books to recommend, give 5 stars, gush over, love–in just one post. So let this be the beginning of a series of posts that can extol the merits of some of the greatest finds, the perfect fit, and the never-stops-being-amazing books for your classroom.

First up is so hard to pick–the first sets the tone. So let’s start with a list.

I started my career in kindergarten. One of the biggest standards and most critical learning goal: the alphabet–letters, sounds, and vocabulary. So, naturally, I have a long list of alphabet books.

The following are some of my favorite alphabet books:

  • A is for Angry by Sandra Boynton
  • A is for Salad by Mike Lester
  • A is for ?: A Photographer’s Alphabet of Animals by Henry Horenstein
  • Animalia—Graeme Base
  • Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr.
  • K is for Kissing a Cool Kangaroo by Giles Andreae
  • My Name is  . . .  by Alice Lyne
  • The Absolutely Awful Alphabet by Mordicai Gerstein
  • The Z was Zapped by Chris Van Allsburg
  • Superhero ABC by Bob McLeod