Building connections to math, art, and more through children’s literature

When I am at a loss as to what to do in my preschool classroom, I always sit down and start thumbing through all my children’s books.

As I read through my collection of children’s books, my mind begins to swirl with all the ways each book can be extended throughout my curriculum content. I seek out ways I might be able to build connections from the book to creative art, math, science, music, and even to the items I set out in my classroom centers.

Let me give you an example….

The book titled, “In the Small, Small, Pond” by Denise Fleming may at first glance seem like a simple book with just a few words and  a whole lot of pictures. But as I explore this book with my students I discover wonderful opportunities for connecting the words and illustrations in the book to vocabulary, art, music, math, and more….

Pond Creatures

This book is filled with wonderful pond creatures that can be created by the children during art.

The problem will be narrowing down to what we actually have time for. I can envision making a pond filled with fish, turtles, and frogs just like those shown in the book. I will read the book more than once to the children and leave it out so we can go back to review and explore our ideas throughout the week.  See how our hands are in our pond just like the little boy in our book?

Sounds of Creatures

This book shares the wonderful sounds of each creature. We can explore the sounds of animals and creatures too through a listening game. I can record the sounds of animals then play the sounds for the children so they can try and guess what they hear.


We can sort minnows by color and by size, create patterns, and count them!


We can sing a song about One Green Frog and create puppets to hop like a frog too!

The possibilities are endless as we seek to expand literature into the classroom experience…. and then there are real world opportunities too! The next time you are having a mental block for ideas to do in the classroom, just sit down and go through a few good books and see what you can do to build on the ideas, illustrations, characters, and words of the book.

By |2010-08-27T06:00:27+00:00August 27th, 2010|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Rosana August 27, 2010 at 7:18 am - Reply

    Lovely ideas Deborah…I´m teaching about “under the sea theme” and I´ll try some of these ideas….thanks for sharing
    Hugs from Brazil

  2. April August 27, 2010 at 10:29 am - Reply

    A pond theme sounds like lots of fun!

  3. Kelly Burstow August 27, 2010 at 7:13 pm - Reply

    Deborah, thanks for visiting Be A Fun Mum. So glad to have you. I love this post so much. I’m passionate about children’s books so I can just see how this would work. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Clemencia August 27, 2010 at 7:16 pm - Reply

    thank you so much for your awesome ideas, I love your blog!

  5. Love and Lollipops August 28, 2010 at 3:53 pm - Reply

    I also just love looking at books for inspiration! It’s one of my favourite things to do!

  6. RainbowsWithinReach September 4, 2010 at 9:52 pm - Reply

    Deborah, one of the highlights of my career as an author/illustrator, was the opportunity to have dinner with Denise Fleming the evening before a children’s literature conference. The best part was she then invited me up to her hotel room and we visited for hours!!! She showed me the f&g of her then upcoming picture book. At the time I didn’t even know what an f&g referred to. LOL. “Fold & gathered”!!!!! So it was all of the artwork printed and not yet bound into a book, for her approval. I seriously look back on that night as a highlight of my professional career. She is a kind and generous (and hilarious) person. I think she’d LOVE to see your thourough post on her work. An extreme compliment that I know she’d appreciate. Keep up the good work.

    • Deborah J. Stewart September 4, 2010 at 11:27 pm - Reply

      You are the luckiest person I know – I really need to hang out with you more so I can follow you around to meet all those cool people I admire. What an amazing experience. I met Eric Carle many years ago:) But he didn’t hang out with me – he just autographed my book!

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