In the Classroom
Literature in the Math Classroom
June 1, 2018
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Cindy Cliche

The biggest challenge for so many teachers is finding time in the day to teach each content area. Teachers that traditionally set a block amount of time to teach math and then another block of time to teach language arts are finding that integrating the two subjects gives more time for teaching the curriculum, and students are engaged in their learning. Integration of literature in mathematics activities and tasks helps develop the context for the lesson. If students can make a connection to mathematics content in a story, the literature can make mathematics more interesting, engaging, and applicable to students’ experiences in the world.

One resource that can support teachers is the Math Through Stories Website ( This website offers a bibliography of books based on math topics such as Place Value, Rounding, Operations, etc. There is also a new feature called “Lesson Ideas” where books are listed, and when you click on the cover, an activity is provided. These are developed by guest contributors so the list is growing. This valuable resource is free and will get you started integrating math and literature. Their mission is to “make mathematics teaching more accessible and more enjoyable for learners everywhere through the power of storytelling and children’s imagination.”

Another resource parents may find beneficial for integrating math and literature is Bedtime Math ( Each day a cool fact is presented for parents to share with their children which usually connects to current events. After reading this section, there are several problems listed by age ranges. (Example: Little Kids, Big Kids, and The Sky’s the Limit.) Bedtime Math is available as a website or an app.

Literature can provide the context for rich tasks and opportunities for children to engage in high levels of mathematics. As teachers we are constantly looking for ways to help all our students. Math literacy provides another way to integrate the curriculum. Begin to look at the books in your classroom library and think of problems to pose that will meet the needs of the children in your classroom.

Cindy Cliche’s teaching experience includes over 35 years as a K-2 teacher. She has recently left the classroom to be the Math Coordinator at Murfreesboro City Schools. Cindy has worked as a Teacher Trainer with the Tennessee State Department of Education. In addition, she is the Project INSPIRE Assistant with Middle Tennessee State University and Murfreesboro City Schools. Cindy also has worked with other educators writing content resources for NCTM. She was the Presidential Awardee in Math and Science Teaching in 2004. Cindy received her Bachelor’s Degree from Ball State University and her Masters from Berry College. She also serves as a Hope Street Group Tennessee Teacher Fellow, engaging her colleagues in providing classroom feedback to the Tennessee Department of Education on public education policy issues.

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