Pedagogy Market Research | Review #8


Using Story Telling to Teach Mathematics Concepts
By Mary Barr Goral and Cindy Meyers Gnadinger

Review Summary by Varsha Roy
Market Research Analyst, Adaptive Instruction

I am Varsha Roy. I am a Software Engineer with 6 years of IT experience from Mumbai. I currently work as a Freelance Book Blogger and own a page on Instagram and a website called Inside A Book. I am also a blogger with Harper Collins India and Hay House India. I also write detailed and well researched blog posts and summaries of research papers for Adaptive Instruction.

This is a summary of the research article ‘Using storytelling to teach mathematical concepts’ by Mary Barr Goral and Cindy Meyers Gnadinger. Dr Mary Barr Goral teaches mathematics and science methods at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky, USA and Dr Cindy Meyers Gnadinger teaches literacy at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky, USA. The article explains how storytelling is a powerful tool to teach abstract mathematical concepts to young children.

Why Storytelling in Math?

Young students find it difficult to understand abstract mathematical concepts. Storytelling can be used by teachers to explain such concepts to them. Storytelling appeals to children’s imagination and emotions and helps make learning more meaningful. The article has a story of Queen Arithma and how she used the concepts of bundling to count a stack of invitations.

Queen Arithma Story

Queen Arithma is known for three things: she loved mathematics, loved parties and hated winters. One winter day, she decided to organize a big costume ball party to lift her spirits up. She called her assistants to make a list of the guests and write the invitation for each. She was expecting her friend by noon to pick up the invitations and deliver them. When she started counting the invitations, she was interrupted several times by visitors and then her friend arrived. Her friend helped her count the invitations by grouping the invitations in 10s and tying it with a red ribbon and then stack ten 10s bundle and tie it with a blue ribbon and the remaining grouped and tied with green ribbon and the value written separately of the number of ones. Thus, by using the concept of 10s i.e., place values the queen and her friend could count the invitations easily.


The Arithma story was experimented on students by the researchers to explain the concept of place value to students. They narrated the story to the students and assigned groups of students a similar task. With the experiment, the researchers found that the story gave students an experience that helped the groups to solve the problems themselves. Thus, storytelling uses children’s imagination and developing a connection as means to help them understand the difficult and abstract mathematical concepts.

Link to the original publication:
Using Storytelling to Teach Mathematics Concepts