4 Ways To Teach Math Through Short Stories For Kids

Me: Teaching Math.

My daughter: “Long long ago, there was a huge castle called ‘Mira Castle’. And I was the princess. Once it was attacked by a huge red dragon called Math-a-sorous. Instead of fire, it breathed rocks in shape of numbers. Whenever someone attacked it, it threw out so many numbers that the attacker had to run away.”

We giggled and guffawed at this wild imagination of my 7 year old. Our hearty laugh ended in me realizing that Mira has some creative imagination and VERY scared of Math. So much so, that the enemy of her sweet little fairy tale is math. While I was amazed by her story telling skills, I was amused to see her fear and hatred for math. And if I don’t clear her fears now, she will forever hate it.

Well, then it clicked me after few days. She loves stories, she loves listening to it, telling it and expressing herself. Why not crush the wall between her and math with what she loves the most?

Stories meet Math. Math meet stories.

Our lives are woven around so many stories, short and long. It is high time stories in our class or homes met that dragon called Math! Research over the past two decades have shown promising results of the use of stories in learning and teaching Math.


Stories or narratives humanize Mathematical concepts. Teaching Math through stories make kids believe that Math is not different, it is one amongst us. It is not the monster under our beds, but the snuggly teddy we don’t wish to lose.

So, here I am. Sharing what I did to make Mira pet Math-a-sorous. Catch up on these ways for teaching math:

  1. Bedtime = Math time:Replace a couple of the bedtime story books with these Math books. This was the first thing I did. I spoke to her math teacher and she suggested me few books, I Googled, amazon-ed and bought many. Well, we continued giggling but her math terms got so much better.Highly recommended ones are:
    • The Sir Cumference Series and Mummy Math: An Adventure in Geometry by Cindy Neuschwander
    • What’s Your Angle, Pythagoras? A Math Adventure by Julie Ellis’
    • One Watermelon Seed by Celia Barker Lottridge

    Log on to Amazon and buy these books right away! They are fun, stealthily educational, and your child will wake up not detesting Math. It is a great Math help for teaching Math.


    Let me back this up with an example: The following looks like a fun activity: counting and painting.

    2. Activate the activities: Google is laden with gazillion Math strategies and activities ideal for Math classes as well as for homeschoolers. But most of them are just activities without any narration to it. Yes, they are interesting, colorful, and doable. But in kid’s world, they do not have a recall value. That is, kids will love it the first time, do it the second time, and by the third time they are done with it. Now lace the same activity with a story and boom! The fun in it explodes. For the second time of teaching Math using the same story-backed activity, rename the characters in the activity and that will be a new activity for them. It saves a lot of time, resources, as well as brainpower!

    How about we add a narrative:

    Caterpillar World

    One day on a big Mulberry tree, a colorful Mommy butterfly hatched 10 eggs on 10 leaves. Upon hatching, the 10 caterpillars rushed to their mommy for some hugs and cuddles and stories. Now, not all baby caterpillars were big: some were teenie weenies, some average and some were very long. But how would she remember? So, she numbered every caterpillar according to their legs: Baby 4 will have 4 legs, Baby 7 will have 7 legs and so on. Now the caterpillars went on to look for some food. Baby 1 could only have 1 apple: so, it developed 1 foot. (Instruct to finger print once next to 1st caterpillar). Baby 2 could only have 2 mulberries, so it grew only 2 feet. (Instruct to finger print twice next to 2nd caterpillar)


    Did you observe the difference just while you were reading this? That is the miracle of teaching math through short stories for kids!

    I tried addition and multiplication as well. I laid a non-slippery mat on the floor (poses river) and spread colored newspaper cut outs on it (or rocks). I made up a story.

    Froggy in the Rocky river

    You are a hungry little frog and there are lots of bugs on the other side of the river. Your friends are afraid to go there but you are the brave one. You tell your friends that you will cross the river and see if it is dangerous. And if it is not, you can call them over. Hop on the rocks and cross the river. But count the number of jumps and say it aloud to let your friends know. When you come back again, count the jumps and add the total number of hops you did.” For multiplication, I asked her to count the total number of hops (say 6) and told her – 1 frog jumps 6 times, 2 frogs will jump? (as repeated addition).




    3. Story telling math board games:

    Math Board games are a great way of instilling interest in Math outside of Math books. It is an all-in-one stop for a great Math review lesson.

    Interesting stuff: check.

    Strong narrative: check.

    Math lesson: check.

    Fun with friends and family: check.

    As hard you may wish to, not all Math board games can be fun. Check out my highly recommended ones:

    As hard you may wish to, not all Math board games can be fun, but some are. Check out highly interactive and FUN math games to play at home or classrooms. These games have short stories and interesting game play, one of the best ways to enjoy math.


    4. Scribbling stories: Printable Math Worksheets—the newest trend in Math strategies! As parents, we swear by them; a lot of them are also heavily recommended by teachers. What I noticed was often these worksheets are devoid of a backstory, paving a way for boredom and repetition. To prove my point here: See below example of 2 fairly colorful and interesting worksheets of comparing numbers. The task card one is just plain numbers, whereas the dog one tells us how the dog needs to find the real bones. Of course, the dog one wins the argument here because you want to read it, kids want to read and solve it. Hence, proved!

    You may find our huge collection of math worksheets for Kindergarten – grade 5 very useful if you are looking forward to teaching math through short stories.


    Long story short, all I want to say is teaching Math through stories will not only add fun to your Math strategies but also leave a lasting impression! Remember the words Ignacio Estrada left us with: “If a child can’t learn the way we teach, may be we should teach the way they learn.” So, let the stories unfold!

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