ERIC Identifier: ED380308
Publication Date: 1995-00-00
Author: Reed, Michelle K.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse for
Science Mathematics and Environmental Education Columbus OH.
Making Mathematical Connections in the Early Grades. ERIC
Of all of the reform recommendations being made by the National Council of
Teachers of Mathematics, making mathematical connections is among the more
difficult to achieve, yet is so helpful in motivating students in the early
grades. Mathematical connections can relate mathematical topics to students'
daily lives and to other mathematical topics but are probably most important in
relating mathematics to other curriculum areas. These connections help students
understand mathematics better and see it as a useful and interesting subject to
This digest gives samples of activities appropriate for use in the early
grades to connect mathematics to other subjects. Resources are listed by subject
area and are drawn from a longer annotated bibliography of mathematical
connections available from ERIC/CSMEE (see end note).
"A + B = 1, 2, 3 (Language Arts/Mathematics
Connection)" is a collection of teaching materials to connect language arts and
mathematics. Materials in the collection include: (1) a statement of fundamental
assumptions about language, literacy, and learning; (2) objectives for
mathematics as communication; (3) discussion of a new approach to teaching
mathematics that draws on the best features of language teaching; and (4)
numerous class activities such as giving and following directions, techniques of
shared reading, a place value mat, a description of learning logs, making a math
story, collecting and organizing data, and examples of how poems can be part of
a mathematics lesson. A 220-item bibliography is included.
Lim, J. A., & Abell-Victory, J. (1991, May). A + B = 1, 2, 3 (Language
arts/mathematics connection). Workshop presented at the Annual Meeting of the
International Reading Association, Las Vegas, NV. (ED 335 637)
"Links to Literature: The Most Important Thing Is..." describes the use of
Margaret Wise Brown's "The Important Book" to involve students in writing about
defining qualities and attributes of geometric shapes.
Bertheau, M., & Thiessen, D. (1994, October). Links to literature: The
most important thing is.... Teaching Children Mathematics, 1(2), 112-115.
"Thinking About Fractions (Writing in Mathematics Class)" describes two
activities in a second-grade class that use drawing and writing to explore
Burns, M. (1992, November-December). Thinking about fractions (Writing in
mathematics class). Writing Notebook: Visions for Learning, 10(2), 38, 43.
"Using Language Arts to Promote Mathematics Learning" considers four language
arts--speaking, listening, reading, and writing--as activities that enhance the
development of mathematical concepts. Suggests ways language arts can be used in
learning difficult concepts such as missing addends, algorithms, number facts,
and problem solving. Lists 39 references.
Burton, G. M. (1992, Summer). Using language arts to promote mathematics
learning. Mathematics Educator, 3(2), 26-31.
Literature that explores mathematical concepts is a natural tool for
attaining the goals of the NCTM Standards. "The Wonderful World of Mathematics:
A Critically Annotated List of Children's Books in Mathematics" provides reviews
of approximately 500 books in mathematics for preschool through grade 6. Each
review describes the content of the book and rates its usefulness in teaching
mathematical concepts. The books are classified into four main categories: (1)
early number concepts, (2) number extensions and connections, (3) measurement,
and (4) geometry and spatial sense. Two indexes list the books by author and by
Thiessen, D., & Matthias, M. (Eds.). (1992). The wonderful world of
mathematics: A critically annotated list of children's books in mathematics.
Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. (ED 355 124)
"Activities for Teaching K-6 Math/Science Concepts"
is a revised edition of one of the products of a project, "Teaching Mathematics
and Science Concepts, K-6," funded by the New York State Department of
Education. This book contains lesson ideas that reflect the belief that science
and mathematics are opposite sides of the same coin. Activities in this booklet
(1) combine important mathematics and science in a single lesson; (2) have been
tried out by classroom teachers and elementary school children; (3) involve
"hands-on" activities; (4) use readily available, everyday materials; and (5)
can be used as the basis for further activities. Included is a list of free and
inexpensive materials that are useful in teaching science and mathematics and
which include everything needed for the activities in this booklet. The topics
of geometry, shapes, the earth, measuring, counting, inclined planes, work,
gravity, friction, observing, classifying, angles, dew point, probability,
symmetry, variation in nature, metric system, data collecting, estimation,
ratios, proportion, melting, freezing, graphs, inferring, patterns, feeding and
locomotion of animals, adaptations in animals, volume, ground water, and water
supply are presented. A section "Sources of Further Ideas" contains a brief list
of professional journals, teacher idea/reference books, and curriculum projects,
along with a list of useable junk.
Farmer, W. A., & Farrell, M. A. (1989). Activities for teaching K-6
math/science concepts. Bowling Green, OH: School Science and Mathematics
Association (126 Life Sciences Building, Bowling Green State University, Bowling
Green, OH 43403-0256). (ED 347 051)
"IDEAS" connects science and mathematics in a series of activities related to
the heart. Worksheets designed for multiple grade levels investigate (1) How Big
Is Your Heart? (levels K-2); (2) Every Beat of Your Heart (levels 3-4); (3)
What's the Beat? (levels 5-6), and (4) Heartifacts (levels 7-8). Extensions of
the activities are discussed.
Passarello, L. M., & Fennell, F. (1992, February). IDEAS. Arithmetic
Teacher, 39(6), 32-39.
"SSMiles" presents five integrated mathematics and science lessons in which
students investigate the characteristics, behavior, lifecycles, and motion of
mealworms and the feasibility of raising mealworms for profit. Purpose, time,
materials needed, procedures, and extensions for each activity are discussed.
Tracy, D. M. (Ed.). (1993, October). SSMiles. School Science and Mathematics,
"Data Buddies: Primary-Grade Mathematicians
Explore Data" describes a project for first- and second-graders involving
gathering and interpreting survey data from a student they have never met in
order to identify the student at the end of the project. Includes sample
curricular goals and instructional strategies.
Bloom, S. J. (1994, October). Data buddies: Primary-grade mathematicians
explore data. Teaching Children Mathematics, 1(2), 80-86.
"Early Childhood Corner: Calendar Reading: A Tradition That Begs Remodeling"
describes the construction of a children's calendar for use in school, including
development of time concepts, developing event recording systems, daily and
weekly schedules of events, multiple-week schedules of events, and a day-date
Schwartz, S. L. (1994, October). Early childhood corner: Calendar reading: A
tradition that begs remodeling. Teaching Children Mathematics, 1(2), 104-109.
"Social Math: Teacher's Resources" presents recommended resources for
implementing activities in social mathematics, an instructional approach created
by combining numerical information with social studies concepts. Describes ways
to generate historical timelines, create family histories, and collect and
interpret numerical data.
Porter, P. (Ed.). (1993, September-October). Social math: Teacher's
resources. Social Studies and the Young Learner, 6(1), 25-27.
"World Cultures in the Mathematics Class" introduces a cultural perspective
into the teaching of mathematics. Describes the mathematical practices of
African peoples and of the indigenous peoples of the Americas in relationship to
numbers and numeration, design and pattern, architecture, and games of chance
Zaslavsky, C. (1991, June). World cultures in the mathematics class. For the
Learning of Mathematics, 11(2), 32-36.
"IDEAS" presents a thematic approach to curriculum
that enables students to connect topics and supports meaningful inquiry.
Presents four activities for levels K-2, 3-4, 5-6, and 7-8 in which students
explore problems of interest involving the theme of construction and
architecture. Includes reproducible worksheets.
Brahier, D. (Ed.). (1993, February). IDEAS. Arithmetic Teacher, 40(6),
"Math in Motion: Origami in the Classroom" presents techniques and activities
to teach mathematics using origami paper folding. Part 1 includes a history of
origami, mathematics and origami, and careers using mathematics. Parts 2 and 3
introduce paper folding concepts and teaching techniques, including low-budget
paper resources. Part 4 includes a lesson plan guide and interdisciplinary
cross-reference chart. Part 5 includes paper-folding projects and activities
using the square, rectangle, and triangle. Part 6 offers cultural and
educational enrichment activities, including math journals, thought-of-the-week
quotations, Japanese fan, haiku, fortune cookie recipe, Japanese vocabulary of
numbers and common words, tangram puzzles, origami mobile, the thousand cranes
story, and a cooperative learning activity about diagramming. Teacher scripts
are included with some lessons. Staff development, family, and student workshops
are also available.
Pearl, B. (1994). Math in motion: Hands-on math: Origami in the classroom.
Newport Beach, CA: Author (2417 Vista Hogar, Newport Beach, CA 97660). (714)
721-0633. (ED 377 035)
"Word Problems and the Language Connection" presents the method of employing
student-written playlets and a technique called "stage freeze" to help students
identify appropriate operations during problem solving. Provides five sample
playlets, a description of the method, and several benefits from using the
Matz, K. A., & Leier, C. (1992, April). Word problems and the language
connection. Arithmetic Teacher, 39(8), 14-17.
"Empowering Students With 'The Math
Connection'" discusses a children's television show, The Math Connection, which
shows connections between mathematics and daily pursuits of local workers and
tries to improve attitudes of students and teachers towards mathematics.
Describes the content and structure and the open-ended problems on which
students work to prepare for the show.
Rosnick, P. (1994, May). Empowering students with "The Math Connection."
Arithmetic Teacher, 41(9), 513-517.
"Math Safari" describes a mathematical, scientific, geographic, informational
adventure for fourth-grade students. It integrates all curriculum areas and
other skills by using information children must find in books to pose math
problems about animals. It encourages cooperative learning, critical reading,
analysis, and use of research skills.
Nelson, V., & Stanko, A. (1992, August). Math safari. Learning, 21(1),
"Wet and Wild Water" uses a thematic approach to show the integration of
subjects (reading, mathematics, language arts, science/fine arts) and skills to
create a context for learning. There are six major topics in the guide, each
with subtopics: (1) Getting Your Feet Wet--An Introduction to Water; (2) Fishy
Business--Applying Economics; (3) The Big Splash--Water Sports, Athletes, and
Water Animals; (4) Where in the World--Famous Explorers of the Past; (5) Water
Mysteries--Myths, Legends, and Strange Occurrences (Loch Ness Monster and
Atlantis); and (6) Join Hands for Tomorrow's Water--Global Responsibility. Under
each topic is an indication of the core knowledge required, a description of the
activity, directions for a water experiment, and a list of books and resources
for the teacher.
Indiana State Department of Education. (1990). Wet and wild water.
Indianapolis: Center for School Improvement and Performance. (ED 338 478).