**Drawing from their article titled ***'Mathematics Learning Opportunities in Preschool: Where Does the Classroom Library Fit In?'* which has recently been published in the Early Education and Development journal, the authors - Dr. Michele L. Stites, Dr. Susan Sonnenschein, Rebecca Dowling and Brittany Gay (University of Maryland, Baltimore County) – have put together this short and easy-to-read blog post for interested teachers and parents. We hope you will find their blog post interesting and feel free to share it on social media.

*'Mathematics Learning Opportunities in Preschool: Where Does the Classroom Library Fit In?'*which has recently been published in the Early Education and Development journal, the authors - Dr. Michele L. Stites, Dr. Susan Sonnenschein, Rebecca Dowling and Brittany Gay (University of Maryland, Baltimore County) – have put together this short and easy-to-read blog post for interested teachers and parents. We hope you will find their blog post interesting and feel free to share it on social media.

**Math in preschool**

It is critical that young children are provided with experiences that foster mathematics skills (Ginsburg et al., 2008). A child’s classroom provides an opportunity to engage in mathematical learning experiences and build foundational mathematics skills (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 2013; NAEYC/NCTM, 2010). Young children often learn through direct instruction, observation, and engaging in games and other mathematics-related tasks (LeFevre et al, 2009; Sonnenschein et al., 2016), but learn best when instruction occurs in situations that children find engaging (NAEYC/NCTM, 2010; Pomerantz & Grolnick, 2017; Sonnenschein et al., 2016; Stites & Brown, 2019). While engaging child-centered opportunities for non-mathematics learning abound in preschool classrooms, mathematics exposure is often more limited (Ginsburg et al., 2008). Children spend an average of only 24 minutes a day with access to mathematics activities versus 77 minutes for literacy (Piasta et al., 2014).

**Our study**

Given this lack of exposure, and the importance of mathematical opportunities, we need to investigate often overlooked areas for mathematics learning. Classroom libraries have long been seen as effective ways to promote literacy development, especially when teachers take an active interest in supporting children’s use of it (Neuman, 1999). This research, along with what we know about reading storybooks with mathematical concepts to improve learning (Hassinger-Das et al., 2015), indicates that the classroom library should not be left out when looking for ways to support young children’s mathematics learning.

We recently surveyed 150 preschool teachers in the USA about the types of books in their classroom libraries and the availability of mathematics-related story books for the children they teach. While we focused our study on preschool classrooms, the information provided likely applies to elementary classrooms as well due to the frequent presence of libraries in these settings. The majority of the teachers who responded to our study indicated they have a classroom library (98%) that they encourage children to use throughout the day during times like free choice and transitions, with children on average spending 10-30 minutes a day exploring books in the library. While most teachers indicated having a well-used library, we found that over 81% of teachers’ classroom libraries contained significantly fewer math books than other types of books. Many teachers reported mathematics storybooks and materials were kept for use in the math center, which are often not as freely available to students as the library.

Despite not necessarily viewing the library as a place for math learning, and despite having relatively few math books there, many teachers did indicate their classrooms were full of hands-on, engaging materials for mathematics. Teachers understand how important mathematical opportunities are for young children (Stites et al, 2021) and work hard to ensure the children they teach are provided mathematical opportunities. However, they may be missing simple way to integrate mathematics in their everyday routine: the classroom library. By envisioning the classroom library as a means of fostering mathematics development, teachers can make the most of a frequently used, child-centered part of the day. Teachers can choose mathematics-themed storybooks and incorporate them into their classroom libraries. These books can then be used to talk with children about different mathematical topics and therefore “do” more mathematics. Although teacher read alouds of mathematics books is limited (Pentimonti et al., 2011), when teachers do read mathematics storybooks, children’s mathematical engagement increases (Langford, 1994) and more mathematical conversations occur (Hojnoski et al., 2014).

**Finding resources**

Resources for using storybooks to teach mathematics are available through different professional organizations. The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM; https://www.nctm.org) and Development and Research in Early Math Education (DREME; https://dreme.stanford.edu) provide lists of mathematically relevant texts and suggestions for incorporating them into mathematics instruction. Math storybooks come in two types: (1) explicit mathematics content (often called math storybooks) where the goal of the text is to teach a mathematical topic (e.g. counting); and (2) implicit mathematics content (simply storybooks) where the topics are secondary to the story (Uscianowski et al., 2018). Both types of books can encourage mathematical thinking. A book like

*Chicka, Chicka, 1-2-3*(Martin & Sampson, 2005), where the point of the book is counting, is an explicit mathematics book. Conversely,

*The Doorbell Rang*(Hutchins, 1989) is an implicit book because the division of the cookies is secondary to the theme of baking and sharing cookies.

Using these resources, along with the strategies teachers already have in place to support mathematical learning, makes using the library a simple way to increase the amount of time spent “doing mathematics” because it allows time for both child and teacher directed exposure to concepts. The more frequently the classroom library is used for mathematics learning, the more commonplace it will become. Storybooks are an easy, low cost way to foster a child’s excitement and understanding of mathematics and the classroom libraries are already a part of most classrooms. Mathematics books do not need to be relegated to the math center. Let’s make the most of all the mathematical opportunities in a school day; there are more than we thought!

**References**

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*Social Policy Report, 22*, 3-22. ISSN: ISSN-1075-703.

Hassinger-Das, B., Jordan, N. C., & Dyson, N. (2015), Reading stories to learn math.

*The Elementary School Journal*,

*116,*242-264.doi: 10.1086/683986.

Hojnoski, R. L., Columba, H. L., & Polignano, J. (2014). Embedding mathematical dialogue in parent-child shared book reading: A preliminary investigation.

*Early Education and Development, 25,*469-492.

Hutchins, P. (1986).

*The doorbell rang*. New York, NY: Mulberry Books.

Langford, V. (1994). The picture books of Anno: A search for a perfect world through a fascination with mathematics.

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Martin, B. & Sampson, M.R.. (2005).

*Chicka 1-2-3.*New York, New York: Scholastic.

National Association for the Education of Young Children and National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NAEYC and NCTM). (2010).

*Position statement. Early childhood mathematics: Promoting good beginnings*. Retrieved August 20, 2018, from http://www .naeyc.org/positionstatements/mathematics.

National Council Teachers of Mathematics (2013). Mathematics in early childhood learning: A position of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Retrieved from:

https://www.nctm.org/uploadedFiles/Standards_and_Positions/Position_Statements/Early%20Childhood%20Mathematics%20(2013).pdf

__.__

Neuman, S. (1999). Books make a difference: A study of literacy.

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*Early Education and Development, 25,*445-468. doi:10.1080/10409289.2013.817753.

Pomerantz, E. M., & Grolnick, W. S. (2017). The role of parenting in children’s motivation and competence: What underlies facilitative parenting? In A. Elliot, C. S. Dweck, & D. Yeager (Eds.),

*Handbook of Competence and Motivation,*2nd Edition:

*Theory and Application*(pp.566-585). New York, NY: Guilford Press.

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Uscianowski, C., Almeda, M. V., & Ginsburg, H. P. (2020). Differences in the complexity of math and literacy questions parents pose during storybook reading.

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**About the authors**

Dr. Michele L. Stites is an Assistant Professor in Early Childhood Education at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Her research focuses on early childhood education, Universal Design for Learning (UDL), early childhood mathematics, STEAM in early childhood education, STEAM in inclusive settings, early childhood teacher education, preparing general educators to work with children with special needs, inclusion, and military dependent children. |

Dr. Susan Sonnenschein is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Her research addresses ways to promote the academic success of children from diverse (race/ethnicity, SES, linguistic) backgrounds. Although the research considers home and school factors, there is particular interested in how parental beliefs and practices are associated with children’s academic development. |

Rebecca Dowling is a doctoral student at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Her research interests include associations between early childhood classroom practices, educational technology, the home learning environment, and emergent literacy and numeracy development in diverse populations. |

Brittany Gay is a doctoral student at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Her research interests include impact of poverty on educational contexts, the promotion of educational equity, program evaluation, and the translation of research to policy. |