Children's literature in the mathematics classroom: a flexible approach to practice

Leicha A. Bragg, Catherine Attard, Tracey Muir, Sharyn Livy

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Employing children’s literature in the mathematics classroom is a flexible teaching practice that engages students with mathematics in ways that traditional teaching practice may not. Children’s literature offers opportunities for rich mathematical discussions and thinking through an examination of mathematical concepts represented in the storyline, illustrations, and context. This paper explores the use of children's literature to promote student engagement in the early years (ages 5 to 8) reporting on two lessons planned around children’s literature. A suite of lessons based on 17 children’s books were developed over two years as a collaboration between six Australian academics. The books were selected based on Marston’s (2010) framework for identifying picture books with quality mathematical content. The Framework for Engagement with Mathematics (Attard, 2012) was used as an analytical tool to determine if and how the use of the books were engaging. Relevant mathematical concepts which linked explicitly to children’s lives were addressed. The opportunities to differentiate students’ experience of a task, created through enabling and extending prompts, assisted in engaging the students. Findings from the lessons indicated the utilisation of children’s literature to develop mathematical concepts was an effective tool for extending their mathematical understanding and ensuring substantive engagement.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationICMI-EARCOME8 - Taipei, Taiwan, May 7-11, 2018
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 8th ICMI-East Asia Regional Conference on Mathematics Education
EditorsFeng-Jui Hsieh
Place of PublicationTaipei Taipei
PublisherEast Asia Regional Conference on Mathematics Education
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)9789860557831
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventEast Asia Regional Conference on Mathematics Education 2018 - Taipei, Taiwan
Duration: 7 May 201811 May 2018
Conference number: 8th


ConferenceEast Asia Regional Conference on Mathematics Education 2018
Abbreviated titleEARCOME 2018
Internet address


  • mathematics
  • picture books
  • Early years
  • Flexible learning and teaching

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