Family Engagement in Early Math

Reed, Rosenberg and Young are co-leading a Heising-Simons Foundation-funded study — Family Engagement in Early Mathematics — which is examining the effectiveness of an additional teacher professional development/family engagement model for increasing preschoolers’ knowledge and skills in mathematics above and beyond the Games for Young Mathematicians intervention.. The additional teacher PD intervention is designed to support teachers in engaging families with early mathematics. The family engagement component includes a set of at-home activities and mathematics mini-books, that align with the mathematical content of the games and activities teachers are implementing in the classroom. A key component of the study is its emphasis on developing mathematics-focused family engagement strategies and materials. The ultimate goals is that the materials can be readily adopted and sustained by Head Start and other early childhood programs without the need for ongoing external support.

girlResearch Questions

  1. What are the supports and practices needed for Head Start programs to successfully integrate and sustain family engagement programs? Are additional supports needed to implement successful family engagement programs in mathematics?
  2. Is the family engagement intervention effective at engaging families with mathematics activities?
  3. Is the classroom intervention plus family engagement more effective than the comparison groups at promoting children’s mathematics learning and persistence at challenging tasks?

Engaging Families to Promote Young Children’s Math Learning and Mastery Motivation

Family Engagement in Early Math is a research study designed to develop, test, and disseminate a series of complementary classroom- and home-based mathematical learning activities that promote young children’s mathematical thinking and mastery motivation, with a focus on children from low-income families. Family Engagement in Early Math utilizes the infrastructure of our classroom-based mathematics intervention targeting young children, Games for Young Mathematicians, as the foundation for the classroom component of this project’s intervention. The at-home mathematics learning activities we create will be designed to complement, and build on, the concepts covered in the YM classroom games.

Read Handouts

Advancing Equity: Playful Ways to Extend Math Learning at Home, Jessica Mercer Young & Kristen E Reed, Dec 2018/Jan2019. 

5 Ways That Playing Games Helps Children Learn Math
5 Ways to Help Young Children Love Math
LoveMath in English

LoveMath  in Spanish

5 Ways Playing Games Helps Children Learn Math (in Spanish and English)

Family Math Event Planning Tool
Family math event planning tool

Math Activity Texts
Math activity texts

Patterns Placemat (prints best as 11 inch x 17 inch paper)
Patterns placemat


Related Books

Printable Math Mini-Books for families to read at home

childWhat’s Playing (with Parents) Got to do with Children’s Math Learning?

Even before children have the skills to compare measurements with accuracy or the language to express measurement comparisons with clarity, they notice which is bigger or taller or fatter or hotter: their cognitive apparatus is aware of the phenomena and is interested in it, ready to be fed the language and experiences that become the foundation for the more formal learning that comes later. Their very early experiences—through everyday activities at home, and in interactions with caregivers—can build a strong foundation for later mathematics understanding (Goldenberg, Mark, & Cuoco, 2010). The National Research Council’s (NRC) study Mathematics Learning in Early Childhood: Paths Toward Excellence and Equity (2009) concluded that while young children indeed have the capacity and interest to learn meaningful mathematics, they need “adult support to build and extend their early knowledge and learn to focus on and elaborate the mathematical aspects of everyday situations—to mathematize” (p. 334). That support, including exposing young children to mathematics-rich activities, scaffolding their engagement in those activities, and encouraging their persistence in the face of challenge, can be, critically, provided by families in the home context.

Game Examples

Books for teaching math in Preschool

Riddle books:

  • Math Fables by Greg Tang
  • Math Fables Too by Greg Tang
  • Math For All Seasons: Mind-Stretching Math Riddles by Greg Tang


  • Mouse Shape by Ellen Stoll Walsh
  • Which One Doesn’t Belong?: A Shapes Book by Christopher Danielson
  • Color Zoo by Lois Ehlert
  • Round is a Tortilla or Round is Mooncake by Roseanne Thong
  • Shapes (Math Counts)
  • Shapes and Things by Tana Hoban
  • So Many Circles, So Many Squares by Tana Hoban
  • The Greedy Triangle by Marilyn Burns
  • Seven Blind Mice by Ed Young
  • What is Square? By Rebecca K. Dotlich
  • Village of Round and Square by Ann Grifalconi
  • Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crocket Johnson
  • The Silly Story of Goldie Locks and the Three Squares by Grace Maccarone
  • There’s a Square: A Book about Shapes by Mary Serfozo
  • Brown Rabbit’s Shape Book by Alan Baker
  • Bear in a Square by Stella Blackstone
  • The Wing on a Flea: A Book about Shapes by Ed Emberley
  • Up Goes the Skyscaper! by Gail Gibbons
  • Manhattan Skyscrapers by Eric Peter Nash and Norman McGrath
  • Building a House by Byron Barton


  • The A-B-A-B-A A Book of Pattern Play by Brian P. Cleary
  • Pattern Bugs by Trudy Harris
  • Patterns (Math Counts)
  • The Napping House (growing pattern) by Audrey Wood
  • Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow 


  • Ten Black Dots by Donald Crews
  • Mouse Count by Ellen Stoll Walsh
  • Anno’s Counting Book by Mitsumasa Anno
  • Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by Eric Litwin and James Dean
  • How Many Snails? by Paul Giganti
  • Fish Eyes: A book you can count on by Lois Ehlert
  • Hippos Go Berserk! by Sandra Boynton
  • Quack and Count by Keith Baker
  • Math Counts: Numbers
  • Balancing Act by Ellen Stoll Walsh
  • Uno, Dos, Tres: One, Two, Three by Pat Mora
  • Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow
  • The Napping House by Audrey Wood
  • Two Ways to Count to Ten: A Liberian Folktale by Ruby Dee
  • Doggies by Sandra Boynton
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  • Seashells by the Seashore by Marianne Berkes
  • The Baseball Counting Book by Barbara Barbieri McGrath
  • Five Little Ducks: An Old Rhyme by Pamela Paparone
  • Miss Spider’s Tea Party by David Kirk
  • Remainder of One by Elinor Pinczes
  • One Hundred Hungry Ants by Elinor Pinczes
  • Zero the Hero by Joan Holub
  • Rooster’s Off to See the Word by Eric Carle
  • Too Many Eggs: A Counting Book by M. Christina Butler
  • 10 Bears in My Bed: A Goodnight Countdown by Stanley Mack
  • One Duck Stuck by Phyllis Root
  • One Was Johnny: A Counting Book by Maurice Sendak
  • Fiesta by Ginger Foglesong Guy
  • One Hungry Monster: A Counting Book in Rhyme by Susan Heyboer O’Keefe
  • Ten, Nine, Eight by Molly Bang
  • My Love for You by Susan L. Roth
  • Feast for 10 by Cathryn Falwell
  • My Visit to the Dinosaurs by Aliki
  • Count-a-saurus by Nancy Blumenthal
  • March of the Dinosaurs: A Prehistoric Counting Book by Jakki Wood
  • Ten Little Ladybugs by Melanie Gerth
  • 10 Dogs in the Window by Claire Masurel
  • 10 Apples up on Top by Theo LeSieg


  • How Big is a Foot? by Rolf Myller
  • A Giraffe and a Half by Shel Silverstein
  • Let’s Measure it! by Luella Connelly
  • Who Sank the Boat? by Pamela Allen
  • Measuring Penny by Loreen Leedy
  • Inch by Inch by Leo Lionni
  • How Long or How Wide?: A Measuring Guide by Brian P. Cleary
  • How Tall, How Short, How Far Away? by David A. Adler
  • Jim and the Beanstalk by Raymond Briggs
  • Length by Henry Pluckrose
  • Me and the Measure of Things by Joan Sweeney

Toy Examples

Hi Ho Cherry-O
Chutes and Ladders
Memory Game
Candy Land
Connect Four

Card Games

Memory (Concentration)
Go Fish
Top It (War)
Slap Jack
Crazy 8s
Sleeping Queens