I consider myself to be incredibly lucky that I work in schools across the UK. Happily for me, I see more than my fair share of classrooms and am frequently inspired and impressed by the learning environments within primary schools. Often these settings use story books to support maths learning – so read on to find out my recommendations for books to support KS2 maths at home.
Reading this poster on a school maths display board one day stopped me in my tracks:
Mathematics is not about how many answers you know, it’s about how you respond when you don’t.
Honestly, I don’t know whose words they are, but whoever they are has succinctly and wisely challenged one of the biggest mathematical mythical monsters. Good maths is not about working through pages of sums and number crunching. It is about problem solving and navigating mathematical thinking when an answer isn’t (and shouldn’t be) obvious. The rebel in me would love to take this quote and hang it above all the maths home ‘support’ work books available in the high street stores.
For parents, who probably recall their own maths learning as working through calculations (possibly in silence) this can feel really confusing. Why the change? Computers and technology have taken over the calculation aspect of mathematics meaning employers now seek students who can think, reason and problem solve to tackle new and unique problems. Focusing KS2 children on the mathematics around them using story books is a fantastic way of bringing maths to life and reinforcing the important message that maths isn’t just about sums.
Here are some books to support KS2 maths at home, that would make great Christmas presents for KS2 children.
A Very Improbable Story
This witty story gets children thinking more deeply about probability and what good odds might mean. I love the resilience of the main character Ethan, who demonstrates throughout that never giving up and having another go is worth it, which are all valuable characteristics for successful mathematicians.
A Remainder of One
This story allows children to think about division using pictures to ‘see’ the calculation, and puts the concept of a remainder into a context in order for children to really understand what this means. This book is also useful to show parents how multiplication and division are taught in schools as arrays (rows and columns) to support their understanding. This might be in stark contrast of parent’s experiencing of rote learning and chanting times tables!
The Maths Curse
A funny story that illustrates that maths is absolutely everywhere and therefore inescapable! It also highlights some of the questions and everyday scenarios that you can stimulate maths discussions with your child outside of school.
Spaghetti and Meatballs for All
This story presents a scenario which will be familiar to households everywhere. How many people can fit around the table for a meal, how much cutlery and dinnerware will be needed, how much food such be bought? Great problem solving that allows children to think about division, ratio, perimeter and area.
The Sir Cumference Series
Sir Cumference and the first round table
Sir Cumference and the off the charts dessert
Sir Cumference and the dragon of pi
These stories make some challenging and complex aspects of maths accessible and meaningful, and allow children to think deeply about shape, data handling and measures. They also demonstrate mathematical thinking and problem solving where the answer isn’t immediately obvious, which is a very important message for both adults and children.
The videos we’ve included in this blog were ones we found by quickly searching Youtube. We’ve included them to help bring the stories to life but this external content is not produced or controlled by Student Navigator.
When we’re not reading books to uncover mathematical content, we can be found helping primary school children feel more confident about their learning. For more information on our primary mentoring you can click here.