Every night since my kids were tiny we’ve read stories before bed. It’s been a time for us to wind down, cuddle, get one on one time with each of them, and chat about the books and our day. Reading at night strengthens their reading skills. I did the reading when we started and slowly, as they get older, they’re reading to me. We do this for reading, but we’ve never done this with math.

I started looking for resources to do some math at bed time. I googled:


and there were many hits for a website/app called Bedtime Math. I checked it out. You can subscribe to an email to get a daily math scenario to do at bedtime with your kids. It always gives some background on a real-world scenario and then asks some math questions they made up regarding this scenario. For example, here was yesterday’s email:


They are ok…but it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. I wanted to discuss more, I wanted a variety of answers, not just one and boom we’re done. I wanted to strengthen my 8 year old and my two 6 year olds numeracy skills just like we strengthened their reading skills. I wanted my kids to share strategies on counting, estimating, adding, multiplying, sorting, patterning, etc all while laying in bed cuddling and comfortable. This site wasn’t doing that for me.

This week I received Christopher Danielson’s book Which One Doesn’t Belong in the mail.

Now this is what I wanted. Every page gets us discussing why we picked one shape over another. We talk about why someone might have picked each of the shapes. On the first night we did 3 pages and they wanted more. I wanted more. But I restrained. “We don’t want to use it all up on the first night!”.

This got me thinking. I wanted to discuss math like this every night, even for just 5 or 10 minutes. I needed more. That night and a few other nights I put together some pages for me, my wife, and my kids to do before bed. Here are a few pages:

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So far we have 20 pages in this book:


Click to download a copy for iBooks on your iOS device

Each page in this book shows us a perplexing problem. Sometimes there is one right answer and sometimes there are many right answers. The purpose of each question is to generate a discussion about HOW you determined an answer. If you find one answer, try to find another. You could complete one page a night, or many pages. 

You can access the first 20 pages of the book here with an iOS device that has the iBooks app installed. Or you can download a PDF version here. That way you can view the pages while laying in bed with your little ones. I plan to add many more pages as the days go on. We have been doing two or three pages a night….my plan is to have about 50 or so. Please go ahead and download it and read with your kids. Also please feel free to edit the book and give me some feedback on the pages. I haven’t spent much time thinking about math in grades K through 3 YET.

Grab a preview photo book print version at cost here



Further Reading: 

Christopher’s site Talking Math With Your Kids

Table Talk Math – http://www.tabletalkmath.com/ 

Our math related books for night time:


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4 thoughts on “Math Before Bed

  1. Here are some of my favorite math readers:

    Five Creatures, by Emily Jenkins — it’s kind of a narrative version of #WODB

    G Is for Googol: A Math Alphabet Book, by David M. Schwartz (You could do a page a night!)

    Anno’s Mysterious Multiplying Jar, by Masaichiro Anno and Mitsumasa Anno

    Chasing Vermeer, by Blue Balliett — it’s a novel, but pentominoes feature prominently in how the two main characters solve a mystery

    Ten Times Better, by Richard Michelson (best stuff is in the back, after the story’s been told)

    Toads and Tessellations, by Sharon Morrisette (How can you make twelve pairs of shoes out of one piece of leather? magical and mathematical at the same time!)

    The History of Counting, by Denise Schmandt-Besserat

    I’d love to hear if any of these ring the bell for your mathy bedtime routine!

    –Malke (@mathinyourfeet and mathinunexpectedspaces.wordpress.com/)

    1. Jon Orr

      Wow, thanks Malke. I haven’t heard of these before. I’m just beginning this journey with my kids. These books will be helpful. Thank you.



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