Baking to Books

Baking with children provides a great opportunity to use math words. There’s sequencing, measuring, counting, volume, and number print. You can begin exploring fractions with toddlers when you use measuring cups and tablespoons/teaspoons. 

I always welcomed children into my kitchen whenever there was food prep for lunch and snacks. We also did special baking activities. We counted each item being added to the bowl, as it was added. We counted turns mixing. We did fractions. We read recipes together to understand the sequence. We smelled, tasted and compared items like apples and pears. Discussed parts of vegetables we were preparing and eating. Talked about size and shapes. When I made pancakes for lunch my toddlers loved to count out the chocolate chips, so every pancake got the same amount. 

A favorite cooking experience was making our homemade playdough. This activity was able to be easily adjust for younger children. There were limited ingredients. Items could be mixed before needing to be cooked. Once cooked exploring the kneading of the warm playdough was a great sensory experience. Even though we have playdough available daily, playing with that new playdough was always the best.

Because of all the time we spent in the kitchen it was a huge part of the dramatic plan in my mixed-ages program. What fun it was to hear the math words that made their way into this play.

Books are such an important part of any quality child care program and need to be part of bringing math forward for infants and toddlers. You probably have books that cover counting and shapes, but the diversity in today’s picture books open up many more learning opportunities for expanding math concepts. The math concept doesn’t need to be clear or in your face. It’s about expanding opportunities to make connections to math concepts.

Rhythm is a math concept and many picture books have a great rhythm to the words. Use that as you read.

If we really look, we will find that picture books have many examples of patterns to be found in the language and illustrations. In books with an obvious language pattern, it is often useful to point out the repetitive text, although many times the children beat us to it without even thinking about it being a pattern on their part.  They recognize that it is something that repeats. And don’t forget to use the wealth of illustrations in today’s picture books, especially for patterns.

Music is also a math concept, so any book that you can sing works.

When there is a problem to be solved within the story you can usually connect math in. In sharing talk about the clues, ask lots of “W” questions. Look for descriptive words that compare, similarities/differences, etc.

Good Night Gorilla / by Rathmann, Peggy. A story that happens in the night brings in learning about “time”. It also reinforces a routine. Has a pattern to the language.

Any book that is predictable like: Old MacDonald Had a Farm.

The Full Moon at the Napping House / by Audrey Wood is a story that builds. This version also has the “full Moon” (shapes, fractions, time) which you can pull into your sharing.

Look for opportunities to expanded language in the story or even add your own in as sharing a book. Giraffes Can’t Dance / by Giles Andreae uses language such as “pair”.

A book that involves movement, especially of human body parts like: Clap Your Hands / by Cauley, Lorinda Bryan

Any book that shares a story at different times of a day or year.

Many books about gardening also work as they share a life cycle. Differences between stages, sequence, and time can be brought into your sharing.

The following listing of books are an example of books I used my program. (I didn’t own all of these. I used my local library for their collection, but also for access to Maine’s interlibrary loan system.) They are divided here into primary concept areas, some overlap or are appropriate for multiple concepts. 

It’s always important to pre-read any book you are planning on sharing with children so that you know if it is the right level for your group. I always like to remind that you do not need to read every word in a book when sharing, especially if you are looking to expand it around an area of interest or skill developing. Knowing we read the same book over and over with our youngest learners especially don’t be afraid to share a book in different ways.


  1. Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? ~ Bill Martin, Jr.
  2. Caps for Sale ~ Esphyr Slobodkina
  3. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom ~ Lois Ehlert – pattern in the rhythmic chant/language
  4. Dots, Spots, Speckles and Stripes ~ Tana Hoban – wordless photograph of patterns found in feathers, flowers, animals and people
  5. Good Night Gorilla ~ Peggy Pathmann
  6. Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature ~ Sarah C. Campbell
  7. Jump, Frog, Jump! ~ Robert Kalan – cumulative tale, pattern in Jump, Frog, Jump! Refrain
  8. I See A Pattern Here ~ Bruce Goldstone – “pattern” means more than ABABAB, explains the many types of patterns
  9. Pattern Bugs ~ Trudy Harris – patterns to be found on pages visual and auditory using bugs
  10. Pattern Fish ~ Trudy Harris – as above but with fish
  11. Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes ~ Eric Litwin – language pattern
  12. Press Here ~ Henre’ Tullet
  13. Silly Sally ~ Audrey Wood – repetitive language pattern, cumulative
  14. The Dress I’ll Wear to the Party ~ Shirley Neitzel
  15. The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything ~ Linda Williams – pattern in language, prediction, sequence
  16. The Very Busy Spider ~ Eric Carle – repetitive text
  17. Who Took the Cookies from the Cookie Jar? ~ Bonnie Lass & Philemon Sturges


  1. Alligator in the Elevator ~ Rick Charette – ordinal
  2. First Day of Winter ~ Denise Fleming – ordinal numbers
  3. Frog Counts to Ten ~ John Liebler – number symbols, counting order
  4. Good Night Numbers ~ Danica McKellar – symbol, word and ten frame as young children prepare to go to bed
  5. I Spy (Little Numbers)
  6. 100 Hungry Ants ~ Elinor J. Pinczes – regrouping 100
  7. On the Launch Pad ~ Michael Dahl
  8. 1,2,3 To The Zoo: a counting book ~ Eric Carle – counting, wordless except for Number symbols
  9. Quack and Count ~ Keith Baker – configurations for 7
  10. Stack the Cats ~ Susie Ghahremani – playing with 10
  11. The Twelve Days of Christmas ~ Jan Brett
  12. The Icky Bug Counting Book ~ Jerry Pallotta – non-fiction
  13. The Wolf’s Chicken Stew ~ Keiko Kasza
  14. 12 Ways to Get to 11 ~ Eve Merriam
  15. Zero, Zilch, Nada: Counting to None ~ Wendy Ulmer – how to count 100 balloons


  1. Construction Countdown ~ K.C. Olsen
  2. Domino Addition ~ Lynette Long – addition, counting
  3. Five Little Monkeys Sitting in a Tree/Jumping on the Bed ~ Eileen Christelow – subtraction
  4. Five Little Pumpkins ~ Ben Mantle
  5. Monster Math ~ Grace Maccarone
  6. Mouse Count ~ Ellen Stoll Walsh – addition/subtraction
  7. Puppies in the Snow ~ James Young
  8. Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons ~ Eric Litwin – subtraction
  9. 10 Fat Turkeys ~ Tony Johnston ~ subtraction
  10. Ten Sly Piranhas ~ Victoria Chess – counting in reverse story
  11. The Doorbell Rang ~ Pat Hutchins – divide it up
  12. Mission: Addition ~ Loreen Leedy
  13. Each Orange Had 8 Slices ~ Giganti/Crew – thinking creatively about numbers and multiplication 
  14. 1 + 1 = 5 and Other Unlikely Additions ~ David LaRochelle
  15. A Remainder of One ~ Elinor J. Pinczes – working with 25, regrouping, division


  1. If You Look Around You ~ Fulvio Testa – 3D shapes
  2. Lines ~ Philip Yenawine – Museum of Modern Art NY, vocab of artists, lines
  3. Mouse Shapes ~ Ellen Stoll Walsh
  4. Perfect Square ~ Michael Hall
  5. Red Bear’s Fun with Shapes ~ Bodel Rikys
  6. Shape Capers ~ Cathryn Falwell
  7. Shapes, Shapes, Shapes ~ Tana Hoban
  8. Shape Space ~ Cathryn Falwell
  9. Shapes That Roll ~ Karen Nagel
  10. The Nesting Quilt ~ Cathryn Falwell
  11. The Shape of Things ~ Dayle Ann Dobbs


  1. A Pair of Socks ~ Stuart Murphy
  2. A Pig is Big ~ Florian – compares items by size relationship starting with a pig and hat.
  3. Actual Size ~ Steve Jenkins – factual about size of creatures, comparative
  4. Bear and Ball ~ Cliff Wright – comparison of size and actions
  5. Biggest, Strongest, Fastest ~ Steve Jenkins
  6. I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean ~ Kevin Sherry – comparison, size
  7. Town Mouse Country Mouse ~ Jan Brett
  8. You Are (Not) Small ~ Anna Kang – what is does “big” “small” really mean?
  9. Opposites ~ Rosalinda Kightley
  10. Paddington’s Opposites ~ Michael Bond
  11. Big Bot Small Bot ~ Marc Rosenthal


  1. Somebody and the Three Blairs ~ Marilyn Tolhurst – sequencing, comparison, prediction, pattern
  2. The Three Billy Goats Gruff ~
  3. Big Pumpkin ~ Erica Silverman


  1. Cook-A-Doodle-Doo! ~ Janet Stevens
  2. How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? ~ Margaret McNamara – estimation
  3. Measuring Penny ~ Loreen Leedy – measurement
  4. The Long and Short of It ~ Cheryl Nathan
  5. The Tallest Snowman ~ Marcie Aboff


  1. Balancing Act ~ Ellen Stoll Walsh – equality/inequality
  2. Equal Shmequal ~ Virginia Kroll
  3. The Cookie Fiasco ~ Dan Santat


  1. Give Me Half! ~ Stuart J. Murphy
  2. The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear ~ Don Wood – fraction
  3. Thunder Cake ~ Patricia Polacco – recipe for cake at book end (counting = time)


  1. A Second is a Hiccup ~ Hazel Hutchings – a second is …time it takes to kiss your mom, turn around….second/minute/hours/day/week/month
  2. Cluck O’Clock ~ Kes Gray
  3. The Clock Struck One ~ Trudy Harris – takeoff of Hickory, Dickory Dock with a cat chasing a mouse throughout the day on a farm
  4. The Grouchy Ladybug ~ Eric Carle


  1. Cookie’s Week ~ Cindy Ward
  2. Seven Blind Mice ~ Ed Young
  3. The Very Hungry Caterpillar ~ Eric Carle – calendar and counting
  4. The Wild Christmas Reindeer ~ Jan Brett

Where’s the Math?:

  1. Chrysanthemum ~ Kevin Henkes – comparing, graphing activity around names
  2. If You Give A Mouse A Cookie ~ Laura Joffe Numeroff – good author study where this series of books develops predictions, cause/effect, sequencing, idea of time
  3. Move Over Rover ~ Karen Beaumont – estimate how many common animals could fit in a dog house/ pattern to the story/ 
  4. Who Said Moo? ~ Harriet Ziefert ~ pattern – repetitive language
  5. Sadie and the Snowman ~ Allen Morgan – repeating pattern and idea of time
  6. Little Snowman Stan ~ Guido Van Genechten – Venn Diagram 2 snowman
  7. Planting a Rainbow ~ Lois Ehlert – shapes, sequencing, time
  8. Stone Soup ~ Jon J Muth // Stone Soup ~ Ann McGovern – Venn Diagram compare story versions
  9. Pancakes, Pancakes! ~ Eric Carle ~ recipe, graph/tally pancake toppings
  10. Fresh Hall Leaves ~ Betsy Franco ~ tally/graph favorite activities to do with fall leaves
  11. From Seed to Plant ~ Gail Gibbons – sequence seed to plant, calendar chart seed growth
  12. The Legend of Spooky the Square Pumpkin ~ Joe Troiano
  13. Too Many Pumpkins ~ Linda White


  1. A Creepy Countdown ~ Charlotte Huck – black and white, Halloweenish, count up and count down 1-10
  2. Bear Counts ~ Karma Wilson
  3. Build a Snowman 1,2,3! ~ Megan E. Bryant
  4. Can you imagine…..? a Counting book ~ Beau Gardner – numeral/representation/word
  5. Cat Count ~ Betsy Lewin – counting and grouping, final count equals 60
  6. Counting on Calico Cat ~ Phyllis Limbacher Tildes
  7. Counting Our Way to Maine ~ Maggie Smith
  8. Doggies ~ Sandra Boynton
  9. Down East in the Ocean: A Maine Counting Book ~ Peter Roop
  10. Eggs and Legs ~ Michael Dahl – counting by twos
  11. Feast for 10 ~ Cathryn Falwell
  12. Fish Eyes ~ Lois Ehlert
  13. Gray Rabbit’s 1,2,3 ~ Alan Baker
  14. Happy baby 123 ~ Roger Priddy
  15. Lots of Spots ~ Lois Ehlert
  16. Ocean Counting: Odd Numbers ~ Jerry Pallotta
  17. On Halloween Night ~ Ferida Wolff and Dolores Kozielski
  18. One Duck Stuck ~ Phyllis Root
  19. One Potato: A Counting Book of Potato Prints ~ Diana Pomeroy
  20. One, Two, Three, Oops! ~ Michael Coleman – figuring out how to count things that move
  21. Rooster’s Off to See the World ~ Eric Carle
  22. So Many Bunnies: a bedtime abc and counting book ~ Rick Walton – count to 26
  23. Tally O’Malley ~ Stuart Murphy – how to tally items/graphing
  24. teddy bears 1 to 10 ~ Susanna Gretz
  25. Ten Apples Up on Top ~ Dr. Seuss
  26. Ten Black Dots ~ Donald Crew – counting
  27. Ten Terrible Dinosaurs ~ Paul Stickland
  28. The Right Number of Elephants ~ Jeff Sheppard – reverse counting
  29. Turtle Splash! ~ Cathryn Falwell
  30. Who’s Counting ~ Nancy Tafuri

Next: Training Wrap Up / Key Points and Additional Resources

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