On this page, you will find abstracts of research articles that are concerned with various aspects to do with the use of storytelling to enhance mathematics teaching and learning, be it through reading story picture books or creative writing.
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Only articles that have been published in peer-reviewed journals are included. Conference proceedings and theses/dissertations are excluded. Articles that are written either by or for practitioners can be found here. Remember to also check out MathsThroughStories.org's on-going research projects here.
Please note that some articles below focus on the use of just 'picture books' (that is picture books without any narrative or story element) in their research, as opposed to what we explicitly advocate (i.e. story picture books, that is picture books with a narrative element). That said, we still include these articles below in hope that some of you might still find them relevant.
Anderson, A., Anderson, J., & Shapiro, J. (2004). Mathematical discourse in shared storybook reading. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 35(1), 5-33.
Abstract: The purpose of the study reported in this article was to explore the mathematical discourse in which four dyads engaged while sharing the storybook One Snowy Night (Butterworth, 1989) while at home or in other locations (e.g., day care centers). Each dyad consisted of a mother and her four-year-old child. Various discourse patterns were evident, and while there were commonalities across dyads, each pair shared the book in unique ways. In two of the dyads, the mother initiated the mathematical discourse; in the other two, the child did. Size, subitizing, and counting were the most common mathematical concepts that emerged. One dyad attended to a single concept of size, and the other dyads attended to more than one mathematical idea. Some parents scaffolded particular problem-solving strategies; others provided more generic support. Based on our findings, we discuss insights and issues and make suggestions for further research.
Capraro, R. M. & Capraro, M. M. (2006). Are you really going to read us a story? Learning geometry through children's mathematics literature. Reading Psychology, 27(1), 21-36.
Abstract: This study analyzed how one teacher used contemporary children's literature to supplement middle-grades geometry. The teacher's students were matched to students in other classes on general reading, general mathematics, and geometry. Student and teacher interviews, observation notes, and video tape recordings provided insights into fluency and flexibility with mathematical vocabulary. On the three outcome measures, the groups showed little change in general reading and a modest increase in general mathematics abilities. In contrast, the students in the children's literature group showed markedly improved performance in geometry. Analyses indicated these students: (a) showed fluency with geometry vocabulary, (b) demonstrated flexibility in the application of geometry concepts, (c) explained formulae with rich descriptions, and (d) outperformed the non story group on geometry ability when controlling for pretest performance.
Casey, B., Erkut, S., Ceder, I., & Young, J. M. (2008). Use of a storytelling context to improve girls' and boys' geometry skills in kindergarten. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 29, 29-48.
Abstract: Two studies investigated the effects of a storytelling-context for teaching geometry skills to kindergarten girls and boys. In Study 1, the story+geometry intervention consisted of an adventure story teaching geometry through part-whole-relations puzzles. Learning was assessed through transfer of skills, using a pre-/post design comparing intervention and control groups. A near- transfer task included new puzzle-problems with the same puzzle-pieces as the intervention, and a far-transfer task used a wider variety of puzzle-pieces. In Study 1, using diverse suburban students from a lower–middle-class-community, boys improved independent of intervention/control condition on the near-transfer task, whereas girls showed greater improvement with the intervention, than without it. No effects of condition or sex were found on far transfer. Study 2 compared two types of interventions (storytelling+geometry versus geometry-alone) to determine effectiveness of a storytelling-context separate from geometry-content. Findings for the Study 2 sample of diverse kindergartners from a high-poverty urban community showed that storytelling-contexts were more effective than de-contextualized formats for learning geometry across both near- and far-transfer tasks. Across studies, girls benefited more than boys from the geometry-content interventions (both with and without a story context).
Casey, B., Kersh, J. E., & Young, J. M. (2004). Storytelling sagas: An effective medium for teaching early childhood mathematics. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 19, 167–172.
Abstract: This article describes a unique supplementary program that teaches early childhood mathematics (Pre-K to Grade 2), through a series of six problem-solving adventure stories. The mathematics concepts are taught to the children through the medium of oral storytelling sagas in an integrated approach that addresses language arts as well as early childhood mathematics competencies. Teachers and schools can select from the supplementary books in this series to enrich and address gaps in their present mathematics curriculum based on the most recent NCTM [Principles and Standards for School Mathematics, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Reston, VA, 2000] standards recommending a stronger emphasis on geometry, measurement, pre-algebra, and graphing skills.
Cooper, S., Nesmith, S., & Schwarz, G. (2011). Exploring graphic novels for elementary science and mathematics. School Library Research, 14, 1-17.
Abstract: Prompted by the recent surge in the popularity and utilization of graphic novels in the elementary classroom as well as trends toward the publication of content-focused graphic novels, the research described in this study was designed to explore educators’ perspectives toward the medium as well as the issue of quality in graphic novels with science or math content. Qualitative results recorded through evaluation forms and focus-group sessions revealed the existence of variance in participants’ perspectives. However, these results also indicate potential benefits and perceived problems or concerns.
Cotti, R. & Schiro, M. (2004). Connecting teacher beliefs to the use of children’s literature in the teaching of mathematics. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 7(4), 329-356.
Abstract: This article presents examples that illustrate how teachers use children’s literature in the teaching of mathematics. The examples are related to four curriculum ideologies that have influenced mathematics education in the USA for the last 75 years. It discusses why it is relevant to help teachers understand the ideological positions that influence their use of children’s literature during mathematics instruction, summarizes the four ideological positions, and presents results of a study of how teachers’ ideological positions relate to their use of children’s literature in the teaching of mathematics. The study examines two research questions “Can an instructional tool be developed that will highlight for teachers the different ways in which they and others use children’s literature to teach mathematics?” and “Can that instructional tool stimulate teacher discussion and reflection about their own beliefs and the ideological nature of the instructional environment in which they learned (as students) and teach (as teachers)?” Study results indicate that both questions can be answered in the affirmative.
Elia, I., Van den Heuvel-Panhuizen, M., & Georgiou, A. (2010). The role of pictures in picture books on children's cognitive engagement with mathematics. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 18(3), 275-297.
Abstract: The present study examines the cognitive activity that is evoked in young children when they are read a picture book that is written for the purpose of teaching mathematics. The focus of this study is to explore the effects of pictures on children's spontaneous mathematical cognitive engagement. The study is based on the assumption that the pictures in a picture book that is aimed at supporting children's learning of mathematics can have story‐related components and mathematics‐related components. The story‐related components of the pictures contribute to grasp the global story context of the text and the mathematics‐related components help to understand the mathematical content of the story. All of the pictures of the book under investigation, Six brave little monkeys in the jungle, have both story‐related and mathematics‐related components included. The pictures have a representational or an informational function. Four 5‐year‐old children were read individually the book by one of the authors without any probing. A detailed coding framework was used for analyzing the children's utterances that provided an in‐depth picture of the children's cognitive activity. The results show that the picture book as a whole has the potential for cognitively engaging children. However, the pictures with a representational function were found to elicit mathematical thinking to a greater extent than the pictures with an informational function. Moreover, this was found for both types of components included in the pictures. Findings are discussed, practical implications for using picture books in kindergarten are drawn and suggestions for further research are made.
Flevares, L. M. & Schiff, J. R. (2014). Learning mathematics in two dimensions: A review and look ahead at teaching and learning early childhood mathematics with children’s literature. Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 146-157.
Abstract: In the past 25 years an identifiable interest in using children’s literature in mathematics learning emerged (Clyne and Griffiths, 1991; Welchman-Tischler, 1992; Hong, 1996; Hellwig et al., 2000; Haury, 2001). We critically review the rationales given for the use of picture books in mathematics learning, with a special focus on geometry due to its underrepresentation in this body of literature and the need for greater focus on this topic. The benefits and effectiveness of using picture books for children’s mathematics learning and interest have been documented (Hong, 1996; O’Neill et al., 2004; Young-Loveridge, 2004). For geometry, although much learning of shape ideas should be hands-on, twodimensional figures are essential to develop children’s understanding of plane geometry. Books may effectively engage pre-literate children with plane shapes (van den HeuvelPanhuizen and van den Boogaard, 2008; Skoumpourdi and Mpakopoulou, 2011) and shapes as gestalt wholes or prototypes (van Hiele, 1986; Clements et al., 1999; Hannibal, 1999). We review several guidelines and evaluative criteria for book selection, including Cianciolo (2000), Schiro (1997), Hunsader (2004), and van den Heuvel-Panhuizen and Elia (2012). Geometry concepts have proven challenging for young students, but their difficulties may stem, in part, from inadequate teacher training and professional development (Clements and Sarama, 2000; Chard et al., 2008) which lead to misconceptions (Oberdorf and TaylorCox, 1999; Inan and Dogan-Temur, 2010). Using picture books in teacher training may be an inviting way for early childhood teachers to enhance their own knowledge.We will examine the literature for guidance on incorporating children’s literature into teacher training. In closing we will outline a comprehensive, multi-pronged agenda for best instructional practices for selection and use of children’s books in mathematics activities and for teacher training.
Gaylord, S. M., O’Rear, C. D., Hornburg, C. B., McNeil, N. M. (2020). Preferences for tactile and narrative counting books across parents with different education levels. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 50(3), 29-39.
Abstract: Counting books are a potential source of input for children’s learning of early mathematics concepts. However, little is known about the factors that affect the counting books parents choose for their children. Parents (N = 696) of preschoolers (ages 2;6–4;11) were surveyed about their preferences for two specific counting book features, tactility and narrative quality. These two features were studied both covertly, by experimentally manipulating the types of books parents saw and asking parents why they would choose particular books, and explicitly, by asking parents to rate the importance of various factors when choosing counting books for their children. The a priori hypotheses were that parents would prefer tactile over non-tactile counting books for boys and narrative over non-narrative counting books for girls and that education level would be positively associated with counting book reading. Results did not support these hypotheses. Instead, parents’ preferences for the features depended on their education level. Higher education levels were generally associated with decreased preference for tactility and increased preference for narrative quality. Results raise the question of whether the books parents choose for their children may be one way parent education shapes children's early learning environments.
Gunbas, N. (2015). Students’ mathematics word problem-solving achievement in a computer-based story. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 31(1), 78-95.
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of a computer‐based story, which was designed in anchored instruction framework, on sixth‐grade students' mathematics word problem‐solving achievement. Problems were embedded in a story presented on a computer as computer story, and then compared with the paper‐based version of the same story and to a condition that presented the problems as typical, isolated word problems (i.e., a non‐story condition including only problems). One hundred twenty‐eight sixth‐grade students from two public middle schools in Turkey participated in this study. In a pretest–posttest experimental design, students were randomly assigned to one of the treatment groups mentioned earlier in which they solved the same mathematics word problems. A one‐way analysis of covariance was used to analyse students' achievement in the treatment groups. The results indicated that students who solved the problems in the computer story treatment had significantly higher achievement scores than students who solved the problems in the paper story and isolated word problems treatments. In addition, the story was found to be significantly more effective than the non‐story treatment when it was presented on computer.
Hassinger-Das, B., Jordan, N. C., & Dyson, N. (2015). Reading stories to learn math: Mathematics vocabulary instruction for children with early numeracy difficulties. Elementary School Journal, 116(2), 242–264.
Abstract: The present study involved examining whether a storybook reading intervention targeting mathematics vocabulary, such as “equal,” “more,” and “less,” and associated number concepts would increase at-risk children’s vocabulary knowledge and number competencies. Children with early numeracy difficulties (N = 124) were recruited from kindergarten classes in four schools. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups: a storybook number competencies (SNC) intervention, a number sense intervention, or a business-as-usual control. Interventions were carried out in groups of four children over 8 weeks (24 30-minute sessions). Findings demonstrated that the SNC intervention group outperformed the other groups on measures of mathematics vocabulary, both in terms of words that were closely aligned to the intervention and those that were not. There was no effect of the SNC intervention, however, on general mathematics measures, suggesting a need to provide the mathematics vocabulary work along with more intensive instruction in number concepts.
Hendrix, N. M., Hojnoski, R. L., Missall, K. N. (2019). Shared book reading to promote math talk in parent–child dyads in low-income families. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 39(1), 45-55.
Abstract: Shared book reading can facilitate meaningful mathematical interactions. This study extends prior research by exploring the effect of book content and parent training in shared book reading. A comparison phase embedded within a multiple baseline design across participants was used with three Head Start parent–child dyads to examine the effect of book type (i.e., math or nonmath) on the frequency of parent and child mathematical utterances (i.e., math talk) and to evaluate whether there was a functional relation between training as well as provision of reader’s guides and increased frequency and diversity of parent and child math talk. Overall and on average, dyads engaged in more math talk when provided with math books as compared with nonmath books. Results regarding training and provision of supplementary materials were less clear. Results are discussed with attention to multiple indicators of effectiveness and considerations for designing home mathematical interventions.
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(4), 469-492.
Abstract: Shared book reading provides a meaningful context for rich conversations to occur between a child and an adult and offers opportunities for children to be exposed to a range of vocabulary and concepts that often extend beyond their everyday experiences. Few studies have examined parent–child shared book reading as a context for embedding mathematical discussion. The purpose of this study was to examine systematically the effect of training parents to focus on mathematical concepts and vocabulary during shared book reading. Specific research questions were as follows: (a) Did parents increase their use of math talk during shared storybook reading following training? (b) Did parents generalize intervention strategies? And (c) did children increase their use of math talk during shared storybook reading? Results from a yoked multiple-baseline design with 6 dyads indicated variability across the dyads with 2 general patterns. Math talk increased following training for 3 of the dyads, whereas verbal mathematical behavior did not show consistent change for the other 3 dyads. Practice or Policy: Results are discussed in the context of home support for early mathematical development.
Hojnoski, R. L., Polignano, J., & Columba, H. L. (2016). Increasing teacher mathematical talk during shared book reading in the preschool classroom: A pilot study. Early Education and Development, 27(5), 676-691.
Abstract: Research Findings: Shared book reading provides opportunities for adults to engage in literacy-related interactions with children in meaningful ways. Research has examined various dimensions of adult and child behavior during shared book-reading interactions with some focus on how book type affects the reading experience. Little research, however, has examined systematically the use of shared book reading in a mathematical context. Thus, the purpose of the study was twofold: (a) to examine the effect of book type on teacher use of mathematical talk during shared book reading in preschool classrooms and (b) to examine the effect of training teachers specifically to use mathematical talk during shared book reading. A multielement design with 2 female preschool teachers who taught in inclusion classrooms in an urban school district was used. Results generally indicated that the use of mathematical storybooks resulted in increased teacher mathematical talk compared to the use of nonmathematical storybooks. Training and instructional supports resulted in an increase in mathematical talk over that achieved by mathematical storybooks alone. Practice or Policy: Because shared book reading is a common practice in preschool classrooms, strategically choosing books to address mathematical skills can increase attention to mathematics throughout daily routines and provide a means of increasing teacher mathematical talk.
Hong, H. (1996). Effects of mathematics learning through children's literature on math achievement and dispositional outcomes. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 11(4), 477-494.
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to analyze the effectiveness of using children's literature to promote mathematics learning. Fifty-seven kindergarteners were randomly assigned to either a control group or an experimental group. The experimental group received mathematics related storybook reading and discussion time and played with mathematics materials that were related to the storybook content during free play. The control group had ordinary storybook reading time and played with mathematics materials unrelated to the storybook content. The Learning Readiness Test and the Early Mathematics Achievement Test were administered. Four mathematics tasks were also given to compare the mathematics achievement of the two groups. The children's choice of favorite corners, the time spent, and the number of children who played in the mathematics corner were investigated also to measure children's disposition toward doing mathematics. The results showed that more children in the experimental group liked the mathematics comer, chose mathematics tasks, and spent more time in the mathematics corner. Furthermore, the experimental group did significantly better than the control group in the classification, number combination, and shape tasks, and there were qualitative differences in the content analysis.
Jennings, C. M., Jennings, J. E., Richey, J., & Dixon-Krauss, L. (1992). Increasing interest and achievement in mathematics through children's literature. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 7(2), 263-276.
Abstract: This study was designed to test the hypothesis that using children's literature to teach mathematics concepts to kindergarten children improves their math achievement test scores, increases their interest in mathematics, and increases the number of times they use mathematical vocabulary during free play. The subjects consisted of 61 kindergarten children from two school districts in north-central Arkansas. The children were divided into experimental and control groups. The intervention was children's literature incorporated into the mathematics curriculum of the experimental group for 5 months. The control group used a traditional mathematics curriculum. Results from the Test of Early Mathematics Ability and the Metropolitan Readiness Test, and observations of vocabulary usage during free play, showed improvement in all three areas under study—achievement, interest, and vocabulary usage in mathematics.
Lemonidis, C., & Kaiafa, I. (2019). The effect of using storytelling strategy on students’ performance in fractions. Journal of Education and Learning, 8(2), 165-175.
Abstract: Research findings in the field of Mathematics Education emphasize that storytelling is an effective instructional tool in the teaching of mathematics, as it provides a meaningful context that attracts students’ interest and makes learning a pleasant process. The use of stories and fairy tales in the teaching of mathematics motivates students to learn and provides students with an authentic context to understand mathematical concepts and procedures. It is a clear way to incorporate mathematics into other, broader cognitive domains and promotes mathematical discussion in the classroom. The main purpose of this study was to investigate the role that the use of storytelling can play in teaching fractions to third grade students. The study sample consisted of 76 third graders, who attended two primary schools in the city of Florina (Greece). This sample was divided into experimental (n=38) and control (n=38) group. In this study target-focused teaching stories were used. These stories were written in accordance with the objectives of a new Curriculum for rational numbers teaching. The study results showed that the use of storytelling had a positive effect on students’ achievement in fractions, as the experimental group performed significantly better than the control group. The students who benefited most from the use of storytelling were those with medium, especially, with low performance. Finally, the use of storytelling had a positive effect on specific mathematical skills, such as comparing fractions, finding equivalent fractions, creating and manipulating representations and problem solving.
McAndrew, E. M., Morris, W. L., & Fennell, F. (2017). Geometry-related children's literature improves the geometry achievement and attitudes of second-grade students. School Science and Mathematics, 117(1-2), 34-51.
Abstract: Use of mathematics-related literature can engage students' interest and increase their understanding of mathematical concepts. A quasi-experimental study of two second-grade classrooms assessed whether daily inclusion of geometry-related literature in the classroom improved attitudes toward geometry and achievement in geometry. Consistent with the hypothesis, only the students in the classroom with a strong emphasis on geometry-related children's literature showed a significant improvement in their attitudes about geometry over time. While both classes improved their geometry performance over the 4 weeks of the study, the class with a strong emphasis on geometry-related literature improved significantly more (51.2%) than the control class (33.47%). Children's literature can provide a useful and interesting context in which students can develop their understanding of geometry.
Mink, D. V., & Fraser, B. J. (2005). Evaluation of a K–5 mathematics program which integrates children’s literature: Classroom environment and attitudes. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 3(1), 59-85.
Abstract: This article describes a one-year study of 120 fifth grade students whose teachers participated in a program entitled Project SMILE (Science and Mathematics Integrated with Literary Experiences). The purpose of the study was to determine the extent to which the classroom implementation of Project SMILE positively influenced the classroom environment and student attitudes toward reading, writing and mathematics. This was accomplished by, first, facilitating a series of professional development workshops with the teachers and, subsequently, asking these teachers to use the strategies with their students in their elementary school classrooms. The research represents one of the relatively few studies that have employed learning environment dimensions as criteria of effectiveness in the evaluation of educational innovations. Methodologically, our study supported previous research that successfully combined qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection. The learning environment and attitude scales exhibited satisfactory internal consistency reliability and discriminant validity and, additionally, the actual form of most learning environment scales was capable of differentiating between the perceptions of students in different classrooms. The implementation of SMILE was found to have a positive impact on the students of the teachers who participated in the inservice program in that students’ attitudes to mathematics and reading improved and there was congruence between students’ actual and preferred classroom environment on the scales of satisfaction and difficulty. As well, prior research was replicated in that students’ satisfaction was greater in classrooms with a more positive learning environment, especially in terms of student cohesiveness. Finally, qualitative data-gathering methods were used to construct a case study of the mathematics classes of a teacher who attended the SMILE professional development. This case study supported and illuminated the results from the questionnaire survey concerning the effectiveness of Project SMILE in terms of student attitudes and classroom environment.
Nesmith, S. & Cooper, S. (2010). Trade books in the mathematics classroom: The impact of many, varied perspectives on determinations of quality. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 24(4), 279-297.
Abstract: The integration of children's trade books in the mathematics classroom has experienced a dramatic surge in its popularity; yet, though the positive benefits of this strategy have been well documented, these benefits may only be realized if the literature is of high quality. Utilizing a mathematics trade book evaluation instrument, this inquiry explored the impact of varied backgrounds and perspectives on determinations of quality. Utilizing 30 reviewers from five distinct groups and conducting more than 180 evaluations of six trade books, it was found that the background of the reviewer and the number of reviewers involved in the evaluation affected quality determinations. The results indicate that though instruments such as Hunsader's provide a valuable tool for evaluating mathematics literature, the evaluation process, including the number and the background of those involved in the review, greatly affects evaluation results. Subsequently, it is vital that teachers and other educators who either incorporate, or recommend the incorporation of, mathematics trade books actively explore and assess the evaluation and recommendation processes.
Nurnberger-Haag, J. (2017). A cautionary tale: How children's books (mis)teach shapes. Early Education and Development, 28(4), 415-440.
Abstract: Research Findings: Children’s conceptions of shapes, including misconceptions, are quite robust by 6 years old and persist into adulthood, so it is important to inspect early sources of these conceptions. This study aimed to uncover whether children’s books about shapes could be a source of inaccurate initial learning that remains with many adults in spite of school instruction. Thus, the study investigated the content of trade books to identify (a) 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional shapes portrayed, (b) reasoning level used, (c) explicitly accurate and inaccurate information conveyed, and (d) implicit inaccuracies conveyed. This content analysis of 66 shape books found that books portrayed a limited range of shapes in ways that encouraged low-level reasoning. A total of 76% of books had at least 1 explicit inaccuracy of 2-dimensional shapes. Explicit and implicit inaccuracies throughout the sample were consistent with common child and adult difficulties with 2-dimensional shapes. Practice or Policy: This study provides insights into possible sources of shape conceptions. Such knowledge suggests instructional implications and future research about ways in which teachers, librarians, parents, and other caregivers might better select and use trade books to facilitate more accurate shape concepts for young children that may have long-lasting influence.
O’Neill, D. K., Pearce, M. J., & Pick, J. L. (2004). Preschool children’s narratives and performance on the Peabody Individualized Achievement Test – Revised: Evidence of a relation between early narrative and later mathematical ability. First Language, 24(2), 149–183.
Abstract: In this study, different measures derived from 41 3- to 4-year-old children’s selfgenerated picture-book narratives and their performance on a general measure of language development (TELD-2, Hresko, Reid & Hammill, 1991) were evaluated with respect to their possible predictive relation two years later with 5 areas of academic achievement (General information, Reading recognition, Reading comprehension, Math, Spelling) assessed using the Peabody Individualized Achievement Test – Revised (PIAT-R, Markwardt, 1998). Children’s TELD-2 scores were significantly predictive of their General information scores. The narrative measures of conjunction use, event content, perspective shift, and mental state reference were significantly predictive of later Math scores. Post-hocanalyses revealed that, for the same children, the observed relations with Math achievement did not arise with nonspontaneous adult-prompted narrations.
Powell, S. R., & Nurnberger-Haag, J. (2015). Everybody counts, but usually just to 10! A systematic analysis of number representations in children’s books. Early Education and Development, 26(3), 377-398.
Abstract: Research Findings: Teachers and parents often use trade books to introduce or reinforce mathematics concepts. To date, an analysis of the early numeracy content of trade books has not been conducted. Consequently, this study evaluated the properties of numbers and counting within trade books. We coded 160 trade books targeted at establishing early numeracy skill in children to determine the numbers included; the representations of number presented; and how books used representations of number to inform children about numbers, including counting. The main findings included limited opportunity to learn the number 0 and numbers beyond 10 as well as limited exposure to multiple representations of number deemed necessary to build strong number understanding and counting skills. Practice or Policy: We discuss practical implications for the selection and use of trade books about number with young children.
Prendergast, M., Harbison, L., Miller, S., & Trakulphadetkrai, N. T. (2018). Pre-service and in-service teachers’ perceptions on the integration of children’s literature in mathematics teaching and learning in Ireland. Irish Educational Studies. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/03323315.2018.1484302
Abstract: The beneficial role that children’s literature plays in facilitating the meaningful integration and advancement of literacy and numeracy in the primary mathematics classroom has been well validated by research findings internationally. In Ireland, supporting the development of literacy and numeracy is a key educational priority. Consequently, a myriad of policy initiatives such as the Literacy and Numeracy for Learning and Life strategy have been introduced. All aim to address concerns about young people’s lack of basic literacy and numeracy skills and to consider new teaching and learning modalities to enhance same. Despite this, no official emphasis is given to incorporating literature in the Irish primary school mathematics curriculum. Therefore, it is pertinent and timely that this study seeks to ascertain pre-service and in-service teachers’ views on the use of literature to support mathematics teaching and learning and to investigate perceived barriers to and enablers for the integration of children’s literature in the mathematics classroom in Ireland. The analysis of the findings will be framed using Ajzen’s (1991) Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) model. This research is part of a large international research collaboration (see www.mathsthroughstories.org), in which the beliefs of teachers with respect to children’s literature are investigated.
Purdum-Cassidy, B., Nesmith, S., & Meyer, R. D., & Cooper, S. (2015). What are they asking? An analysis of the questions planned by prospective teachers when integrating literature in mathematics. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 18(1), 79-99.
Abstract: Questioning is considered a powerful tool in mediating students’ knowledge construction and conceptual understanding. In this qualitative study, the mathematics-focused lesson plans of elementary education prospective teachers provided data to determine the ways that the approach of literature integration in mathematics influenced prospective teachers’ planned questions. All prospective teachers were required to incorporate children’s literature within the mathematics lessons they planned and presented during a field-based teaching experience. Analysis revealed variances in the numbers, types, and foci of prospective teachers’ planned questions. These findings allow speculation that the utilization of mathematics literature integration allowed many of the prospective teachers to create reform-oriented, constructivist mathematics-focused questions and experiences for their students.
Purpura, D. J., Napoli, A. R., Wehrspann, E. A., & Gold, Z. S. (2017). Causal connections between mathematical language and mathematical knowledge: A dialogic reading Intervention. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 10(1), 116-137.
Abstract: The acquisition of early mathematical knowledge is critical for successful long-term academic development. Mathematical language is one of the strongest predictors of children's early mathematical success. Findings from previous studies have provided correlational evidence supporting the importance of mathematical language to the development of children's mathematics skills, but there is limited causal evidence supporting this link. To address this research gap, 47 Head Start children were randomly assigned to a mathematical language intervention group or a business-as-usual group. Over the course of eight weeks, interventionists implemented a dialogic reading intervention focused on quantitative and spatial mathematical language. At posttest, students in the intervention group significantly outperformed the students in the comparison group not only on a mathematical language assessment, but on a mathematical knowledge assessment as well. These findings indicate that increasing children's exposure to mathematical language can positively affect their general mathematics skills. This study is an important first step in providing causal evidence of the importance of early mathematical language for children's general mathematical knowledge and the potential for mathematical language interventions to increase children's overall mathematics abilities.
Rathé, S., Torbeyns, J., Hannula-Sormunen, M.-M., & Verschaffel, L. (2016). Kindergartners’ spontaneous focusing on numerosity in relation to their number-related utterances during numerical picture book reading. Mathematical Thinking and Learning, 18(2), 125-141.
Abstract: This study investigated the relationship between kindergartners’ Spontaneous Focusing on Numerosity (SFON) and their number-related utterances during numerical picture book reading. Forty-eight 4- to 5-year-olds were individually interviewed via a SFON Imitation Task and a numerical picture book reading activity. We expected differences in the frequency of number-related utter- ances during picture book reading between children with a higher SFON score, providing more number-related utterances, and children with a lower SFON score. Our results showed large inter-individual differences in both kindergart- ners’ SFON and the frequency of their number-related utterances during picture book reading, yet SFON was not related to the frequency of number- related utterances. This unexpected result is discussed in terms of its scientific, methodological, and educational implications.
Rogers, R. M., Cooper, S., Nesmith, S. M., & Purdum-Cassidy, B. (2015). Ways that preservice teachers integrate children's literature into mathematics lessons. The Teacher Educator, 50(3), 170-186.
Abstract: Children's literature involving mathematics provides a common, natural context for the sharing of mathematics. To learn more about how preservice teachers included children's literature in their mathematics lessons, a study was conducted over two semesters during a required field experience component of an undergraduate teacher education program. The preservice teachers were required to use a children's literature book to explore a mathematical concept in three mathematics-focused lesson plans. The qualitative data analysis revealed that in planning mathematics lessons to incorporate children's literature, preservice teachers tended to focus on basic approaches. Specifically, the preservice teachers most often used a book as context for review, to develop a concept, or to use with manipulatives. As a result, it is important for teacher educators to provide the opportunity for preservice teachers to learn more about the various ways of integrating literature and provide the necessary support for incorporating these strategies into their lessons.
Segal-Drori, O., Kalmanovich, L. B. H., & Shamir, A. (2018). Electronic book for promoting emergent math: A comparison between kindergarteners at risk for learning disabilities and with typical development. Journal of Educational Computing Research. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0735633118769459
Abstract: The aim of the study was to examine the effect of an activity with an educational electronic storybook with math content on the emergent math of kindergarteners at risk for learning disabilities (LD) compared with kindergarteners with typical development (TD). The study included 107 kindergarteners aged 4.6 to 7. Both the participants at risk for LD (n = 51) and those with TD (n = 56) were randomly divided into two groups: an experimental group that received an intervention with the electronic book and a control group that participated in the regular kindergarten activity during that time. The findings indicated greater improvement in the intervention groups compared with the control groups in the measures “essence of addition” and “ordinal numbers.” Both the group at risk for LD and the group with TD showed significant improvement following the intervention. The implications of these results for young children in general, and for kindergarteners at risk for LD in particular, are discussed.
Shamir, A. & Baruch, D. (2012). Educational e-books: A support for vocabulary and early math for children at risk for learning disabilities. Educational Media International, 49(1), 33-47.
Abstract: Mathematical learning difficulties can originate at an early age. However, research on young children’s math development, especially those who are at risk, is in its early stages. The current study is the first to examine the effects of an activity with an educational e-book on emergent math with 52 preschoolers at risk for learning disability (ALD). The effects on their emergent vocabulary of the e-book intervention was also tested. The findings revealed that following the intervention, children in the experimental e-book group improved both their vocabulary and early math skills as compared to the control group who engaged in their regular preschool activities. The implications of these results are discussed.
Skoumpourdi, C. & Mpakopoulou, I. (2011). The prints: A picture book for pre-formal geometry. Early Childhood Education Journal, 39(3), 197-206.
Abstract: A pre-test questionnaire was conducted in a kindergarten and it showed that, although the children were able to give various examples of objects, from their everyday lives, that are similar to solid shapes, the examples they gave for plane figures were also tangible objects. Since it is suggested that geometry instruction has to begin early, children need rich experiences of the connections between plane figures and solid shapes. The researchers provided a picture book as an impetus for kindergartners’ mathematical thinking. We developed and shared a picture book, The Prints, as an auxiliary means for helping kindergarten children identify the print of a solid shape. Through the picture book—which presents plane figures as prints of solids real life objects—children could link plane figures and solid shapes. The research questions we posed were: (a) Can kindergarten children identify the origin of the plane figures presented? (b) Can they relate the objects presented to the plane figures presented? After sharing the picture book—through the storytelling tradition—and completing the related activities, the identification of the print of a solid shape became more accessible and more engaging to children. They were also able to give appropriate examples of plane figures from their everyday lives. This finding was affirmed by the post-test conducted.
Stites, M. L., Sonnenschein, S., Dowling, R., & Gay, B. (2020). Mathematics learning opportunities in preschool: Where does the classroom library fit in? Early Education and Development. https://doi.org/10.1080/10409289.2020.1721403
Abstract: These two studies examined the different mathematical opportunities provided in preschool classrooms, with a particular focus on the availability of mathematical-themed books in classroom libraries. In study one, we interviewed teachers (N= 150) using an online survey to assess the content of preschool classroom libraries. In study two, we interviewed eight preschool teachers to examine their perceptions of how they teach mathematics and if they view the classroom library as a place for mathematical skill acquisition. Results of the online survey indicated that while teachers encourage the use of classroom libraries, these contained statistically fewer mathematics themed books. Teachers also spontaneously reported that mathematics was something done in the “math center” and not the library. Preschool teachers reported providing many mathematical opportunities throughout the day, but did not necessarily utilize the classroom library for mathematics. Policy or Practice: Given the prevalence of classroom libraries in preschools, we may be missing an important means of providing mathematical exploration, exposure, and opportunities for young children. This potential missed opportunity is an area for additional research.
Uscianowski, C., Almeda, M. V., & Ginsburg, H. P. (2020). Differences in the complexity of math and literacy questions parents pose during storybook reading. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 50(3), 40-50.
Abstract: Parent–child interactions, such as the complexity of their talk during storybook reading, can play a vital role in supporting the development of children’s literacy and math skills. Given that parents may have different beliefs and confidence helping their children learn literacy and math, the present study compares the level of abstraction, or complexity, of questions posed by parents when prompted to help their child learn about math or literacy topics during storybook reading. We also sought to identify factors that influence parents’ use of abstract questions within the story. A total of 172 parents of 3.5–4.5-year-old children named a question they would pose to their child about the character’s actions, numbers, or shapes on 18 storybook pages as part of an online survey. Results revealed that storybook pages without math content evoked questions of significantly higher abstraction than did pages with math content. Parents’ confidence and enjoyment helping their child learn literacy and parents’ educational attainment were found to be significantly and positively related to their use of complex questions for character’s actions, while parents’ reading anxieties had a negative relation to the complexity of their questions. In contrast, parents’ rating of their child’s number ability was significantly and positively related to their use of complex language for number while no significant effects were found for shape. In addition, parents posed more complex questions about number to their sons than daughters. Overall, our findings suggest that parents may benefit from support in engaging their children in challenging and abstract math-related talk about number and shape during storybook reading in order to promote their children’s mathematical development.
Van den Heuvel-Panhuizen, M. & Elia, I. (2012). Developing a framework for the evaluation of picturebooks that support kindergartners’ learning of mathematics. Research in Mathematics Education, 14(1), 17-47.
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to investigate what experts in the use of picturebooks in mathematics education consider powerful characteristics of such books in the support of young children’s learning of mathematics. The study started by investigating experts’ views of such characteristics, as reflected in academic and professional publications on the use of picturebooks in mathematics education. This resulted in a first version of a framework of learning-supportive characteristics of picturebooks. In the second part of the study the framework was refined, and its tenability was tested through a four-round Delphi method, in which seven experts were asked to comment on, and work with, the framework when evaluating three picturebooks. The experts’ evaluations of these books showed that a larger number of learning-supportive characteristics were identified when using the framework than when not using it.
Van den Heuvel-Panhuizen, M. & Elia, I. (2011). Kindergartners’ performance in length measurement and the effect of picture book reading. ZDM Mathematics Education, 43, 621–635.
Abstract: This paper addresses: firstly, kindergartners’ performance in length measurement, the components of their performance and its growth over time; secondly, the possibility to develop kindergartners’ performance in length measurement by reading to them from picture books. To answer the research questions, an experiment with a pretest–posttest experimental control group design was carried out involving nine experimental classes and nine control classes. The children in the experimental group participated in a 3-month picture book program that, among other things, spotlighted the measurement of length situated in meaningful contexts. Before and after the intervention, the children’s performance in length mea- surement was assessed in both groups. The responses of 308 kindergartners (4- to 6-year-olds) from two kinder- garten years (K1 and K2) were analyzed. Analysis of the pretest data showed that the measurement tasks included in the test were not easy to solve. However, the children belonging to K2 did better than the younger children belonging to K1. Within children’s performance, three components could be identified: holistic visual recognition, ordering and unitizing. Finally, the effect of the interven- tion was investigated by comparing the performances of the experimental and control group in the pretest and the posttest. We found a weak but significant effect of reading picture books to children on their general measurement performance. However, this effect was only found for K1 children on the component of holistic visual recognition.
Van den Heuvel-Panhuizen, M., Elia, I., & Robitzsch, A. (2016). Effects of reading picture books on kindergartners’ mathematics performance. Educational Psychology, 36(2), 323-346.
Abstract: This article describes a field experiment with a pretest–posttest control group design which investigated the potential of reading picture books to children for supporting their mathematical understanding. The study involved 384 children from 18 kindergarten classes in 18 schools in the Netherlands. During three months, the children in the nine experimental classes were read picture books. Data analysis revealed that, when controlled for relevant covariates, the picture book reading programme had a positive effect (d = .13) on kindergartners’ mathematics performance as measured by a project test containing items on number, measurement and geometry. Compared to the increase from pretest to posttest in the control group, the increase in the experimental group was 22% larger. No significant differential intervention effects were found between subgroups based on kindergarten year, age, home language, socio-economic status and mathematics and language ability, but a significant intervention effect was found for girls and not for boys.
Van den Heuvel-Panhuizen, M. & Van den Boogaard, S. (2008). Picture books as an impetus for kindergartners' mathematical thinking. Mathematical Thinking and Learning, 10(4), 341-373.
Abstract: Although there is evidence that the use of picture books affects young children's achievement scores in mathematics, little is known about the cognitive engagement and, in particular, the mathematical thinking that is evoked when young children are read a picture book. The focus of the case study reported in this article is on the cognitive engagement that is facilitated by the picture books themselves and not on how this engagement is prompted by a reader. The book under investigation, Vijfde zijn [Being Fifth], is a picture book of high literary quality that was not written for the purpose of teaching mathematics. The story is about a doctor's waiting room and touches on backwards counting and spatial orientation only tacitly as part of the narrative. Four 5 year olds were each read the book by one of the authors without any questioning or probing. The reading sessions took place in school, outside the classroom. A detailed coding framework was developed for analyzing the children's utterances that provided an in-depth picture of the children's spontaneous cognitive engagement. Surprisingly, almost half the utterances were mathematics-related. The findings of the study support the idea that reading children picture books without explicit instruction or prompting has large potential for mathematically engaging children.
Van den heuvel-Panhuizen, M., Van den Boogaard, S., & Doig, B. (2009). Picture books stimulate the learning of mathematics. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 34(3), 30-39.
Abstract: In this article, we describe our experiences using picture books to provide young children (five- to six-year-olds) with a learning environment where they can explore and extend preliminary notions of mathematics-related concepts, without being taught these concepts explicitly. We gained these experiences in the PICO-ma project, which aimed to generate more knowledge about the effect of picture books on young children’s learning of mathematics.The project’s goal is to investigate how picture books can contribute to the development of mathematical concepts in young children, and how the actions of the teacher can strengthen the characteristics of picture books that support learning.The reading sessions described in this article were not intended to be mathematics ‘lessons’. Instead, the reading sessions were intended to tell the children a pleasant story and, at the same time, give them something to think about. Based on our research we provide reasons for using picture books to develop mathematical thinking, and include recommendations for practitioners interested in using picture books for mathematics learning.
Vandermaas-Peeler, M., Nelson, J., Bumpass, C., & Sassine, B. (2009). Numeracy‐related exchanges in joint storybook reading and play. International Journal of Early Years Education, 17(1), 67-84.
Abstract: Studies of the processes by which parents encourage early numerical development in the context of parent–child interactions during routine, culturally relevant activities at home are scarce. The present study was designed to investigate spontaneous exchanges related to numeracy during parent–child interactions in reading and play activities at home. Thirty‐seven families with a four‐year‐old child (13 low‐income) were observed. Two types of numeracy interactions were of interest: socio‐cultural numeracy exchanges, explaining the use and value of money or numbers in routine activities such as shopping or cooking, and mathematical exchanges, including counting, quantity or size comparisons. Results indicated that high‐income parents engaged in more mathematical exchanges during both reading and play than did low‐income parents, though there were no differences in the initiation of socio‐cultural numeracy exchanges. The focus of parental guidance related to numeracy was conceptual and embedded in the activity context, with few dyads focusing on counting or numbers per se. The findings suggest the importance of parent education efforts that incorporate numeracy‐related discourse in the context of daily routines to augment young children’s numeracy development.
Ward, J. M., Mazzocco, M. M., Bock, A. M, & Prokes, N. A. (2017). Are content and structural features of counting books aligned with research on numeracy development? Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 39, 47-63.
Abstract: In this study, we assessed how well children’s counting books are aligned with current research on children’s emerging numeracy. We coded structural and content features of 120 readily available counting books, focusing on features of how numbers were presented, features of items and sets to be counted, and structural features that varied across books. We found that several features that may support learning to count—such as presenting numbers in ascending sequence—were frequently identified in the books we coded; but we also found that features that may interfere with learning to count also occurred frequently, such as presenting multiple distractors on pages with items to be counted. Explicit or even implicit emphasis on counting principles such as cardinality were quite infrequent across most books, and nearly half of all books had at least some pages depicting inconsistencies between the number of items in an illustrated set and the numeral or number word accompanying the set. There was some co-occurrence of select features: Books with many distractors were more likely to have obstructed items within sets to be counted, and were less likely to explicitly draw links between sets and numerals or number words, compared to books that were relatively distractor-free. Considered together, these findings highlight the need for research on how features of counting books and other early mathematics-related books may affect shared-reading and the development of children’s numerical and mathematical thinking.
Young-Loveridge, J. M. (2004). Effects on early numeracy of a program using number books and games. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 19, 82–98.
Abstract: The purpose of the study was to explore the effectiveness of a program designed to improve the number skills of 5-year-olds. The program involved the withdrawal of children from the classroom in pairs to work with a specialist teacher using number books and games. Participants were 106 children who represented approximately the lower two-thirds of scores on a measure of numeracy. Twenty-three children participated in the program, and 83 served as contrasts. The program increased the numeracy levels of the children in the program and produced significantly greater gains in numeracy than were evident for the children in the contrast groups. Once the intervention program ceased, the magnitude of these effects gradually diminished over time, but the benefits of participation in the program remained statistically significant for more than a year after the program finished.