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The Math and Literature Connection

The Math and Literature Connection is designed for the families and educators of children birth through elementary school age. In this breakout session we’ll provide a very brief overview of early math and then explore why children’s literature is such a powerful, fun, and easy way to support mathematical development. We’ll examine an excerpt from a children’s story and consider what to do before, during, and after reading any picture book. Author Stuart J. Murphy will share some reading ideas too. We’ll look at qualities and characteristics of children’s literature that is likely to make it particularly suitable for supporting mathematical understanding. We will share a variety of free resources for families, schools, and communities and end our time together by playing a literature-inspired math game based on Eric Carle’s story, A House for Hermit Crab.


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Luna is a rising 3rd grader. Her favorite subject is math.  In particular, she loves discovering new shapes and that math provides the opportunity to learn something new every day.


As a Child Development Consultant with First 5 California, Dana serves in the Training and Continuous Quality Improvement Office. One of her main duties is project lead for the development of a Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) statewide. A goal of QRIS is to provide information about high quality early learning environments that can meet the needs of all children. That work includes providing training and technical assistance to early educators that promote quality environments for diverse populations of children birth thru five across California. Prior to joining First 5 California, Dana was a Program Officer in Sacramento, overseeing the staff and educational operations of 13 early learning centers. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Education, with a focus on Human Development from California State University Sacramento (Go, Hornets!) and has over 25 years of experience as a teacher, coach, and trainer in the early childhood education field. 

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Dana McVey


Prior to her involvement with the Early Math Project, Carolyn Pfister taught elementary and middle school math and was principal of a K-8 Montessori School. She is particularly interested in encouraging family and community math opportunities and maintaining children’s early love and success with math. Her current work includes advocacy for early math; developing resources to promote mathematical thinking, exploration, and understanding; and helping adults to comfortably and confidently support children’s mathematical development. Carolyn works for the California State Board of Education.  

Carolyn Pfister

Lisa Grant has worked in the education field for over 30 years. She has been a secondary math teacher, instructional coach, and math content specialist at the district, state, and county levels. Her passion is early math learning and preventing math anxiety through a growth mindset. She believes in child-centered, play-based learning and the unmistakable beauty in mathematics.


Lisa Grant

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Malia Gonzalves is a member and advisor of the California Early Math Project Team who specializes in design, technology, and field testing. Malia joined the team after witnessing first-hand the impact of Early Math Project resources on students and families. Malia works for the California Department of Education.  

Malia Gonzalves

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