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Developing Our MathMINDs-Week 6: Experience Math Through Story

Developing Our MathMINDs was a series of conversations and resources about math that is intended to be a journey of growth with families over several weeks. Each week, MIND's Lead Mathematician and Product Director Brandon Smith and Content Development Manager Nina Wu talked about the adjustments families made to learning at home during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the opportunities that situation provided for changing our relationship with math.

How many words are in a typical math lesson?

When Nina entered the math classroom, she was surprised to discover that a large part of the role was helping students with reading and language comprehension. 

Math doesn't exist in a vacuum, so when used effectively, language can help us more deeply understand the math and its relationship with the world around us.

In this week's Developing Our MathMINDs series, we'll examine how language can be used in positive and unexpected ways to support mathematical learning.

Watch the full conversation in the video below and read on for some key takeaways and free math storybooks you can read together as a family.


The Story of Math

Most often when we think about the combination of math and stories, we think of word problems. But there's more to the relationship between stories and math than just through word problems or story problems. 

Stories we experience are more than words - they include actions, images, sites, smells, emotions, and more. If all these elements make up a story, can we also experience stories like this in math?

There's a lot more to the story of mathematics than just textbooks and word problems. Let's also share stories that include our rich human history, and our everyday interactions with the world around us. Even jokes or cartoons can be fun, short stories about math. Another idea is to research the history around a math concept your child is learning and discover the story together.

Strategies to connect math with story:

  • Use the simplest language possible.
  • Set a scenario.
  • Avoid key trigger words.
  • Leave it open enough that students decide which math to use.

Free Math Storybooks

So let's experience the story of mathematics in a new way this week. We've made available two of our new storybook prototypes in a digital format. Feel free to share them on a large screen, or a tablet device, and cozy up with your family for a math story-time. 

Each story uses real life or historical situations to explore a mathematical concept in a non-typical way. Feel free to pause the story to act out or complete the activity described in the story.

Scary Numbers (Ages 4+)

Slimey is Half (Grades 2nd+)

Technical notes: On mobile devices, you may need to turn to landscape to see two page view in full screen. On mobile devices, you may need to reload the story to view it properly.

When you finish a story, please consider taking the survey linked at the end. One of our core values at MIND is continuous improvement; so thank you for helping us make these stories even better for future families. Who knows, your feedback could be incorporated in a new iteration of the digital stories or even a full storybook board game like MathMINDs Games: South of the Sahara.


Calli Wright

About the Author

Calli Wright was the Marketing Manager at MIND Research Institute. She loves playing and designing board games, which she often talks about on twitter @CalliWrights.


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