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Use storybooks to teach Mathematics

LearnMaths_storiesWhen you read storybooks with your child, the world of words comes alive and fills your child's mind with vivid and wonderful images. Is it any wonder that most kids love storytelling?

If you preschooler loves books but doesn't have the same enthusiasm for learning Mathematics, then use language to let your child learn about and practise Mathematics concepts in a fun and interactive way. Stories can show children how we use Mathematics concepts such as order of numbers, measuring and shapes in our everyday lives. We spoke to some preschool educators and parents to find out how you can incorporate Mathematics into your storytelling sessions.

These are some of the concepts you can introduce to your preschooler:

1. Order of numbers

There are many storybooks where a particular sequence of numbers is an important part of the storyline. For example, it can be a picturebook where a group of frogs take turns to jump into a pond, until all of them are in the water. Or there could be a story about a stamp collector who collects a different number of stamps each day. Help your child to count the number sequence out loud and associate them with the growing number of people, animals or objects in the flow of the story. In addition, the pages of a book are also a form of number sequence. Show your child the location of page numbers and ask them how many pages there are altogether. Notice where the even and odd numbers are located. Your child can recite the page number out loud as a way of reinforcing learning sequences.

2. Counting

Use the illustrations in a book to introduce your child to the language of mathematics and some fun mathematics exercises. Get him or her to count the number of different things on a page e.g. 'how many cows are there in the farm?'. Children often have a lot of fun doing this and you can turn it into a game.

3. Comparing

Introduce the concept of comparison by asking questions with words such as 'more than' and 'less than'. If objects in illustrations are drawn to scale, you can also introduce size and length comparisons such as 'bigger than', 'shorter than', 'longer than', and 'shorter than'.

4. Shapes

Point out different objects in illustrations and ask your child to identify the shapes they relate to. You can incorporate counting in your questions as well, for example, 'How many objects on the page are in the shape of a triangle?'

5. Relative position of objects
Learning positional vocabulary early is a very useful skill for everyday life and part of an essential foundation for understanding more complex concepts later. Ask questions such as 'Who is in beside?', 'What is between' and 'who is under?' to help reinforce your child's understanding of relative positions.

These are just a few of the Maths concepts you can introduce using storybooks that may not have specific mathematical content, but which have illustrations and storylines that can generate such opportunities. And make sure that throughout it all, your child is having fun and enjoying the session.

You may also enjoy this article:
Creative Stories for Children on Mathematics : Guidelines for Parents and Teachers

Would you like to share more ways of using storybooks to teach Mathematics? We would love to hear from you.

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