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Circle Time Book Reviews
Math Attack
  Math Attack -- how the fastest way to teach your child math may be through her stomach, and other ideas for introducing numbers to your child

Recommended Books
Eenie Meenie Miney Math! - One Green Frog - Cookie Count - Mouse Count

The Confection Connection
      You can teach your child basic math concepts by opening a one pound bag of M&Ms or Skittles and spreading the candies across your kitchen table. After eating one or two, ask your child to help you sort them. Put all the reds in one pile, all the blues in another.
      Once your child has mastered sorting the candies, try counting them. As you place each candy down in front of her, count aloud, "One, two, three, four..." Then give her a turn. For incentive, let her eat as many as she can count.
      When your child is a whiz at counting, try some addition. If she has four candies, and you give her three more, now how many does she have? Help her count the candies to get the right answer. Try some subtraction. If she has seven candies, and she eats two, how many are left?
      Make patterns with the candies. Line them up blue red green, blue red green. See how far your child can carry out the pattern. Let her try some patterns of her own and see if you can copy them.
      When your child is ready to learn multiplication, arrange the candies in rows. If there are three rows of candy, and four candies in each row, how many are there? Make an edible multiplication table.

It's not a job, it's a "teachable moment"!
      You'll be amazed at how many "teachable moments" there are while you're in the kitchen. If you're making Rice Crispy Treats, let your child count out the forty large marshmallows and measure the six cups of cereal. Let your child set the table. How many spoons will she need? How many utensils go at each place? How many utensils are on the table all together?
      Keep learning as enjoyable and stress-free as possible. Congratulate your child when she gets the right answer. Offer guidance if necessary. "Two plus three is four? Let's try counting that out again and see if we get the same answer." If you notice your child is making the same mistakes over and over, maybe she's not ready to learn that particular concept yet.

Recommended books for parents and children

For parents

Eenie Meenie Miney Math!
by Linda Allison and Martha Weston
original copyright 1993
Circle Time rating
ISBN 0316034649 - paperback
cover image

      If you'd like to teach your child some basic math concepts, but don't know where to start, start here. This book is designed for busy parents who don't have degrees in mathematics or early childhood education. In it, you'll find dozens of fully explained and illustrated activities that are fun, easy, and don't require much advance preparation. Plus, you'll find notes at the beginning of every section that explain different stages of mathematical learning.

  Saying "one, two, three, four," kids memorize numbers in a sequence, as if they were words to a song. Young children can learn to count to one hundred, but at this stage numbers are just words, like "fee, fie, fo fum."
The next level of understanding occurs when children learn that numbers are symbols that stand for something. Counting everyday things is a way for children to experience that the number three stands for three things. Three can mean three beans, three bugs, or three bags of wool.
Eeney, Meeney, Miney Math!  page 6

One activity from this book that we've done in our house is Measuring String:

  This kind of measuring makes it easy to see long . . .and longer. You need a ball of string, tape for labeling, scissors, and things to measure. Your child will need help measuring and cutting the string.
1. Label the strings as you go.
2. "Let's try measuring legs. How long is this chair leg? How about the cat's leg? How about Dad's leg? How about yours?"
3. Compare them by pinning them up on a wall. Whose is longest? shortest? middle-sized?
What else might you measure?
How about measuring around things?
How about measuring tall things?
Eeney, Meeney, Miney Math!  page 41

Price and Ordering Info for This Book (from

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Books for children

One Green Frog
English text by Yvonne Hooker
illustrated by Carlo A. Michelini
original copyright 1978 (Italian); 1981 (English)
recommended age level - baby, preschool
Circle Time rating
ISBN 0448210312 board book
cover image

      This is my favorite counting book! Not only are the pages sturdy enough for little hands, but they have round holes just perfect for little fingers to poke through. Starting with one green frog, each page features a number in big, black type, and a corresponding illustration. One eye of each illustration is cut out, making a continuous hole all the way through the book.
      This book makes learning to count as easy as 1, 2, 3. The bright, crisp illustrations are set on a white background. Those illustrating larger numbers are neatly lined up, so your child can concentrate on counting without having to search for that tenth bumble bee.

Price and Ordering Info for This Book (from

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Cookie Count
written and illustrated by Robert Sabuda
original copyright 1997
recommended age level - preschool, 4-8
Circle Time rating
ISBN 0689811918 pop-up book
cover image

      This is one of the most stunning books I've ever seen! Not only is it an imaginative counting book, set in a bakery staffed by chef's-hatted mice, but this book is also an engineering masterpiece with mouth-watering delicacies that pop up on every page.
      The simple rhyming text (1 chocolate chip cookie left unaware, 2 coconut kisses to share) is the perfect accompaniment for the exquisite illustrations. If your child has a delicate touch, she can count the cookies on each page while pondering just how on earth those pinwheels whirl and twirl.

Price and Ordering Info for This Book (from

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Mouse Count
written and illustrated by Ellen Stoll Walsh
original copyright 1991
recommended age level - preschool, 4-8
Circle Time rating
ISBN 0152002669 board book
ISBN 0152002235 paperback
ISBN 0152560238 library binding
cover image

      This book uses a narrative format to introduce the numbers one to ten, and then count back down again. A hungry snake finds ten napping mice and drops them one by one into a jar for safekeeping. "First I will count them and then I will eat them up," said the snake. "Mouse Count! One... two... three..."
      The mice wake up and convince the snake that he needs one more mouse, a very large one that they point out to him. While the snake goes to capture the other mouse (which is really a large gray rock), the mice tip the jar over. "Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one." The mice uncounted themselves and ran home.
      The text is easy enough for a beginning reader, and the uncluttered illustrations make counting easy for beginners, too.

Price and Ordering Info for This Book (from (board book), (paperback), (library binding)

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