I am not afraid to tell that as a child I developed math anxiety. I was afraid of making mistakes and being laughed at. It just didn’t click!
Mind you, I attended an all-girls private catholic school.
Add the fact that my teachers were not very nice and made me feel that I was not good at it. Now that I am an educator, when I look back at my middle school years, I am certain that I should have received interventions. Back then, it was a one size fits all I guess. I can only imagine what my life would have been in terms of career path, if one…JUST ONE teacher would have taken the time to sit with me 1-on-1 with me.
I only allow myself to be this vulnerable with those who have earned it,
With those who need to hear it.
And YOU, as an educator need to hear about different ways to help your students avoid math anxiety.
I work very hard at creating activities that are engaging and differentiated in order to reach all of my students. You can see this hard work and research reflected on my BUILD math centers, Math Problems for K-2, and task cards.
Many students claim not to like math. But for some, the issue with math is more than simply disliking algebra or problem solving. For some students, doing math can cause negative emotions like fear of failure. This harms their ability to perform. That was ME in middle school! This is such a textbook definition of math anxiety. Seriously!
Today, I wanted to share with you, some of my MOST favorite picture books that I read with my students to help them gain confidence and prevent that yucky math anxiety. Something that I learned from my graduate school classes, is that the right picture books do such a respectful job when it comes to topics like this one.
I’m Trying to Love Math
We love reading this book in our classroom. Its funny, interactive (think Captain Underpants’ flip-o-rama), and makes what can be a challenging subject for children approachable and lighthearted. The author takes the reader through a number of real world topics (musical notation, recipes, maps) that have math at their core and makes it much more relatable. The art is also unique and the topic is ingenious! Sure to help a math-phobic student of any age develop a love for math…or at least pie. 😁
I fell in love with this book since it was shared with me when I was in grad school…waaaay back in the day! This book is great to read to the class and to show students that math is all around them. Every time I read this book, the laughs around the classroom are contagious, and each student is so interested in what was coming next. Normally after I red the book I do a lesson where each student has to create math problems out of everyday life situations. This is certainly a class favorite year after year!
When Sophie Thinks She Can’t
This book is part of the Sophie series, and besides dealing with math anxiety, this book is also a MUST for every growth mindset classroom. In this book, Sophie is struggling with learning new things. She thinks she is just not smart enough. She has an amazing teacher that encourages Sophie and her classmates in creative ways. I love this books positive and uplifting message. We all need a lift from time to time and this book is a great tool for that! A great choice for the classroom or at home to discuss feelings.
On a Beam of Light
What a better way to show our math-phobic students the wonders of math, than through the life of Albert Einstein. This is a lovely story and illustrations. The fact that it is the story of a real boy, means that students will have an interest in Einstein firmly planted in their young mind and heart. It goes with saying that my students and I totally love this book! I normally used this for a beginning of the year lesson “What Makes a Great Mathematician?” and it’s perfect! The kids loved learning a little about Albert Einstein, but more importantly, about his perseverance, questioning, and love for learning. This book gives me chills!
Mathemagic!: Number Tricks
What an awesome book! It’s filled with cool “tricks” that our students can play on friends and family all while learning math. This is definitely the kind of book parents look for. It’s both educational and fun, but so fun the kids won’t care that it’s good for them. I initially checked this book out at the public library for my youngest son, and I liked it so much that I bought my own copy for the classroom LOL! #broketeacher. It is only 40 pages, but loaded with amazing math tricks that will entice even the most reluctant math-phobic!
Nothing Stopped Sophie: The Story of Unshakable Mathematician Sophie Germain
This inspirational biography highlights the benefits of perseverance as we follow the trials of mathematician Sophie Germain as she forges a path in a male dominated arena. Before reading this book, I knew of Sophie Germain, but I didn’t know what an amazing story she had lived. The connections to other famous mathematicians and the amazing illustrations bought this story to life for me. I particularly liked the historical elaborations given at the end of this book. This book will give your students (including the math-phobics) a sense of what true math is like, where perseverance and determination are required, and the right answer is not immediately known.
The Monster Who Did My Math
I always try to get my students to see some of the positives of math in our everyday life. This book was perfect to get my math-phobic students interested. A math-phobic boy faces another dreaded evening of multiplication when a monster suddenly appears in his room and offers him a deal he cannot refuse. Oh-boy! my students ABSOLUTELY love this book and we laugh our butts off! LOL!
David Lubar should be ever teacher, parent and kids’ favorite author. I SWEAR!!!! I love the authentic use of academic vocabulary in all his books. Numbed! is a great way for kids to see/read about math in a different, yet entertaining, context. Even though, this is not a picture book, it might draw in my reluctant boy readers, giving them a chapter book to be successful with… while showing them that math is everywhere and it is a life skill!
I hope you have enjoyed reading and learning about books and more books. I guess you can never have too many to reach every student in your class!
Until next time,