How do I help my students to make personal connections to mathematics?

"Learning is intimately linked to connections we make between our prior knowledge and our new experiences. Prior knowledge or experiences help learners interpret and construct meaning from newly introduced ideas or concepts." (Sammons, Building Mathematical Comprehension, 2013, p. 85)


  • provide provocations to elicit student questions
  • create opportunities for student problem-posing and wondering
  • foster student self-concept and identity as a mathematician
  • value and acknowledge student’s background knowledge and experiences, and contributions to mathematical community
  • recognize and celebrate mathematical “habits of mind
  • provide meaningful financial literacy investigations and experiences


By providing opportunities for students to make mathematics to self connections and pursue personal interests, students develop a stronger mathematical identity and may increase engagement and thus, their learning of mathematics. Students may make personal connections to different starting points such as children's literature, authentic financial literacy experiences or opportunities to think about future careers.

Using Children's Literature

Authored by Marilyn Burns and her colleagues, these resources provide lessons that engage children in mathematical problem solving and reasoning connected to children's literature, both fiction and non-fiction. Marilyn Burns has also written a blogpost on this topic.

Comox Valley School District #71 has many lesson ideas connected to children's literature. Once on their home page, click the tab "Lessons and Ideas" and your grade preference.

Read a Story, Explore the Math is a resource written by Sandra Ball and Carole Fullerton that links math instruction to children's literature for Primary teachers.

Kelly Darke curates Math Book Magic, a fantastic website that highlights children's literature books which are connected to mathematics.

Young Mathematicians website

Math Bibliography Primary 2017.pdf
Math Bibliography Intermediate 2017.pdf

Provide meaningful financial literacy investigations and experiences

Career Education

Industry Training Authority

What are the essential mathematics skills needed for different trades?

Search here on the ITA site

World Economic Form - needed skills for the future

Link to current research on skills needed for future employment