August 2018 - Down River Resources
One of my favorite things to do is walk into a bookstore. It doesn't matter if it is a big box bookstore or the Friends of the Library resell shop in town. I love books... especially children's picture books. Before I started teaching, I would buy any and all books. I have had to be more strategic as the years have passed and the space to shelve these books shrinks. My focus has been building a collection of diverse and rigorous books which I can use to teach mathematics. I buy math picture books now! I have four favorites that I use for teaching place value! I hope this list helps you as you grow your math picture book library!

Place Value Picture Books


The Best Picture Books for Place Value


Picture books provide an opportunity to open mathematical discussions with children. This list will help you find the best picture books to use with your classroom to facilitate their learning of place value. Each of these titles specifically teach mathematical concepts about place value and were written to inform the reader about them. This is not an exhaustive list of books that can be used to teach this skill, but a solid start of titles that I actually own and use!

This post contains affiliate links for Amazon. I only recommend items that I own and use to my Valued Parents. By purchasing an item on the Amazon site using these links, I will receive a very small commission on your purchase that allows me to maintain this website. Thank you for your continued support!

Count to a Million by Jerry Pallotta - Place Value Picture Books
Count to a Million

Count to a Million


Popular children's author, Jerry Pallotta, hits it out of the ballpark again with this title, Count to a Million! If you can count to ten, you can count to one million! That's a pretty bold statement! Although some may have their doubts, readers will find themselves counting higher than they ever thought possible, inspiring even the most reluctant math student, as they build confidence and have fun.


Earth Day- Hooray! Place Value Picture Books
Earth Day-Hooray!

Earth Day-Hooray!

I can't get enough of the MathStart books by Stuart J. Murphy! Earth Day–Hooray! is one of his most popular children’s books too!  Earth Day-Hooray! is a story about Ryan, Luke, and Carly.  These friends need to collect and recycle 5,000 cans if they want to make enough money to plant flowers in the park.  This story is a two-for-one lesson about recycling and the math skill of place value.  Your students will be counting by groups of hundreds, tens, and ones as you read this title to them!


How Much is a Million? Place Value Picture Books
How Much is a Million?

How Much is a Million?


How Much is a Million? by David M. Schwartz is a great story about large numbers.  Ever wonder just what a million of something actually means? How about a billion? Or a trillion? Marvelosissimo, the mathematical magician, can teach you! Say that two times fast! How Much is a Million? breaks down complex numbers down to size in a fun and humorous way that helps children conceptualize a difficult mathematical concept.


Math Fables: Lessons That Count Place Value Books
Math Fables: Lessons That Count

Math Fables:  Lessons That Count


Math Fables: Lessons That Count by Greg Tang is an amazing resource for teaching children their math skills, in particular place value!  Through these “fables” about concepts that are relevant to the very youngest math learners, including sharing, teamwork, etc., Tang encourages children to see the basics of addition and subtraction in entirely new ways. Fresh, fun, and most of all, inspiring, this title is perfect for launching young readers on the road to math success!


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Don't Judge a Book by Its Cover!

Other Place Value Titles on my Personal Wish List


Place Value by David A. Adler (Popular Author)- This is a newly released book!

You had better not monkey around when it comes to place value. The monkeys in this book can tell you why! As they bake the biggest banana cupcake ever, they need to get the amounts in the recipe correct. There’s a big difference between 216 eggs and 621 eggs. Place value is the key to keeping the numbers straight. Using humorous art, easy-to-follow charts and clear explanations, this book presents the basic facts about place value while inserting some amusing monkey business.


Join Sir Cumference and the gang for more wordplay, puns, and problem solving in the clever math adventure about place-value and counting by tens. Sir Cumference and Lady Di planned a surprise birthday party for King Arthur, but they didn’t expect so many guests to show up. How many lunches will they need? And with more guests arriving by the minute, what about dinner? Sir Cumference and Lady Di count guests by tens, hundreds, and even thousands to help young readers learn place-value. Fans will love this new installment of the Sir Cumference series that makes math fun and accessible for all.


A Million Dots by Andrew Clements

It's a long way to 
a million, right?
Of course it is.
But do you really know 
what a million looks like? 

If you'd like to see -- actually see, right now, with your own eyes -- what a million looks like, just open this book. 

Be prepared to learn some interesting things along the way. Like how many shoe boxes it would take to make a stack to Mount Everest. And be prepared to do some number wondering of your own. But, most of all, be prepared to be amazed. Because a million is a LOT of dots.


I hope this post inspires you to use picture books as you teach place value.

What are some of the math picture books you use in your classroom?



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The Best Books for Teaching Place Value by Down River Resources

Have you ever had the privilege of making a home visit and seeing one of your students interact with their family? It's quite a fascinating experience! As a lifelong learner and constant observer, I often find ways that help me understand the "whole child" of which I am responsible for teaching. Teaching social skills is one of many skill sets that should be taught to our students, but is often overlooked due to time constraints and the growing demand of teaching content standards. I have found that you can incorporate social skills into your regular classroom day by using a quick and effective method. This method can be used to teach one of the most essential social skills in the classroom, using the appropriate voice tone.

Three Steps to Using the Appropriate Voice Tone

Teaching How to Use the Appropriate Voice Tone Now


Think about your home growing up. I came from a home where the voice tone got a little loud, especially on Friday nights when the entire family would gather around the large round table to enjoy a fiesta of tacos and burritos. It might be an amusing sight, especially since I am of Eastern European decent, but surely a product of growing up along the United States-Mexican border! 'Ole! 

Students usually bring the voice tone that they are accustomed to into the classroom. While I had to learn how to adjust my voice tone when speaking with a small group, some students live in a soft-spoken home. Students that come from this type of environment have to learn to use their speaker voice when addressing the class. These types of adjustments are necessary and teaching this social skill explicitly can save you a lot of time throughout the school year.

The Importance of Social Skills 


Social skills are sets of behaviors that help individuals interact with one another in ways that are socially acceptable and beneficial. Teaching children that there are new ways of thinking, new ways to feeling good, and new ways of behaving are reasons we teach social skills.

Social skills can be broken down in a step-by-step manner. By breaking down these skills, we identify the behaviors that need to be included to get the desired result. Making sure that each step is observable, we can instantly know if students are meeting the expectations. 

Three Masterful Steps to Using Appropriate Voice Tone


1. Listen to the level of the voices around you.

2. Change your voice tone to match.

3. Watch and listen for visual or verbal cues and adjust your voice as needed.


Three Masterful Steps to Using Appropriate Voice Tone

Supporting Students Visually with a Voice Level Chart


Standardizing a few simple volume levels for your classroom can prove helpful, especially as we encourage learning in a variety of settings.

We can use these volume levels as we directly teach using appropriate voice tone. Model these volumes before having small groups practice these voice tones. 

Once you have these voice levels established in your classroom, you can clarify for each activity which level is most appropriate. 

For example, before releasing your students to work with their small group on a math problem, you might say simply, “We are working at a voice level two.”

Once using this system, students become accustomed to the appropriate voice tone. When it becomes a regular routine, you do not need to spend any time on noting the voice tone for the activity unless needed.


This classroom voice level chart can be used to display the appropriate voice tone in the classroom during a specific activity.

Supporting Students Who Struggling Using Appropriate Voice Tone


Visual Cue


You can simply point to the voice level chart displayed in the room or hold up the corresponding voice level using your fingers.

Create a personal voice levels chart that students can keep on their desks. Add a colorful or seasonal clothespin that students can adjust based on the activity they are working on. Having this support on their desk helps students remember that they are to work using a certain voice tone.


Students can keep a personal voice level chart at their desk. This can be used as an additional visual support for students. Add a colorful clothespin to keep students focused on a particular voice level for a specified activity.

Corrective Prompt


You can quickly refer to the visual voice level chart along with a corrective prompt. 

As you smile, and in a positive voice, say: "Hey Josh, where's level 3?"

Coupling Statement


You can also use a coupling statement where you briefly describe the inappropriate behavior while offering the more appropriate alternative behavior. Say: "Josh, you walked into class using a Level 3 voice. Try coming in again using a Level 0."

Teachers Need to Explicitly Teach Social Skills


After reflecting on my own teaching practice, I was curious how other teachers handle social skills. I reached out to my audience on Instagram and inquired:

Do you explicitly teach using the appropriate voice tone to your class?

Sixty percent of respondents stated that they had not taught this social skill. 

If you want your students to use the appropriate voice tone in your classroom, you can to teach the process step-by step. 


I hope this post inspires you to teach this essential skill and if you'd like to use my voice level charts to help you along this process, you can find them in my TpT shop.

What are some of the other social skills you are thinking about teaching explicitly to your classroom this school year?



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