Seeing the Potential in Maths Picture Books

How many mathematical words and concepts might be embedded in a simple picture book such as Round and Round and Square, a book with between 0 and 14 words on a page?

The answer is more than 20. Where else could you find 20 mathematical terms used in context? The answer is pretty much only in other equally rich picture books.

Towards a Vocabulary List

A few years ago, I began putting Post-it notes into the front of my maths picture books. This was in response to articles that I read about the extent to which an enriched maths vocabulary could predict maths success down the track. Positional language was thought to be a good predictor and it seems that some students enter school with as few as 6 positional words in their vocabulary whereas some have as many as 400. I am building a list of positional words but have not got to 400 yet although every time I open a picture book I do add the positional words in it to the list.

My work continues. In a Spot book recently, I found the word amongst; what a beautiful word, and no, it had not made it onto the list yet.

I have opened the front of the book Round and Round and Square to show you what I mean. The Post-it notes are what I had written and stuck into the front of this book. I actually think the Post-it notes exemplify the richness and possibilities of immersing students in maths or other picture books.

Try the Post-it approach for one or two books to see how rich they are and what vocabulary treasures are hidden within them. Next time I will revisit this book to talk about its other possibilities. Have fun with your books, there is more between the covers than at first appears.

Feel free to add your own Post-it notes, thoughts and favourite picture books to our Facebook page.

Have great week!