Free samples of math pictures for K-6 based on childhood nursery rhymes – great for differentiation in mathematics.

Developing the language of mathematics is tough, no doubt about it. But we do know that talking about difficult and abstract subjects helps kids (and adults) make sense of it.

In the Singapore math style of teaching, there are five critical components to developing competency and mastery of mathematics:

- Concepts
- Skills
- Processes
- Attitudes
- Metacognition

Within this framework, processes, attitudes and metacognition all include being able to communicate, reason and adapt a variety of methods for talking about math.

Teachers also know that when students are relaxed and having fun, deeper connections are made. Math pictures are fun to look at, talk about and it’s even better when they are associated with something most kids already know and love…

## Mother Goose Math Pictures

The author Mem Fox cited a study which showed that children who know at least 8-10 nursery rhymes by the time they are four years old are highly likely to be accelerated readers by the time they are 8 years old.

What does this have to with math?

Nursery rhymes make fantastic math pictures. Don’t believe me? Take a look at these free samples.

Last year I was given a book of illustrations to use with my class to develop oral math skills. The pictures were fine, but they were almost overwhelming and the conversations went in a zillion different directions.

But once we were done talking about it, there wasn’t much left to do. The lesson just ended, without any extensions or deeper (more critical) thinking.

So my class and I set out to do something about it.

The students actually came up with the idea of using nursery rhymes for talking about math. This happened because they loved working with their poetry journals, some of which were Mother Goose rhymes. They asked me if I could make some pictures to go with the rhymes – that way we could work on our reading skills and talk about math.

Clever kids, right?

Once we got into it, I found that I could easily differentiate the types of questions and scaffold their prior knowledge into making unique connections. We also worked on some very challenging questions that many middle schoolers would struggle with (by the way, I teach second grade).

The lessons turned into a weekly study:

- Work on a nursery rhyme for fluency and comprehension (Monday)
- Talk about the math picture that went with each rhyme (Tuesday)
- Differentiate math questions (Wednesday) – the higher students attempted the Super Challenges
- Write our own math stories and illustrate with math coloring sheets (Thursday)
- Share our work and try to solve each other’s math pictures and stories (Friday)

Each lesson actually only took about 15-20 minutes, except Thursday and Friday which needed half-an-hour or more some days.

I pulled it all together, polished it up, added some more lessons…and ended up with Mother Goose Math Pictures for grades K-6.

The kids loved it, and their vocabulary skills, confidence and ability to think deeply about math (and communicate about it!) grew by leaps and bounds.