Discovering Math in Literature

Find useful tips on how to pull math concepts out of literature. Provided by Penguin Putnam.
Grades:
K |
1 |
2
Updated on: July 18, 2001
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ACTIVITIES

What's Cooking?
Cooking inspired by story provides a natural integration of literature and math. The steps involved in following a recipe lend themselves to counting whole numbers and fractional parts, measuring, estimating, and weighing, in addition to dealing with concepts of volume, temperature, and time. It seems only fitting to have your students celebrate Halloween and their reading of Pumpkin Light with ceremonially baked pumpkin pie, divided into fractional parts and eaten by the bakers themselves. The Wolf's Stew offers a number of culinary treats (pancakes, doughnuts, cake, and cookies) to be tested and tasted in your classroom; and a reading of Rechenka's Eggs can be tastefully topped off with some of Babushka's Easter bread. There are many child-friendly cookbooks that provide recipes for these and other treats. Bon Appetit!

Hands-On Geometry
Did you notice that the roof on the chicken's house in The Wolf's Stew is a triangle? Or that the moon in Pumpkin Light is a circle? Your students will love searching out basic geometric shapes "hidden" in a variety of places and positions in these picture book illustrations and in their own world. Once familiar with the properties of these forms, it's an easy jump to creating their own drawings and collages, folding paper cutouts, or using mirrors to investigate lines of symmetry, and constructing models of plane and solid figures out of clay, fabric, and imaginatively used household/classroom materials.

Graphics You Can Count On
Your students will discover that the collection, organization, and display of data gleaned from these stories is easy and fun to do with the aid of graphic figures. The ways in which Strega Nona and Strega Amelia, or Calabria and Moskova are "the same but different" can be visually enhanced through overlapping Circle Venn diagrams. Favorite food or music? Funniest Strega Nona remedy? In-class surveys offer a fun way of extending and personalizing your students' literary experiences. Collected information, once sorted and tallied, can be displayed and interpreted on picture or bar graphs.

Story Problems
If Rechenka laid two eggs a day for three weeks, how many eggs would Babushka have? If the old man started home with one thousand cats, and an equal number of cats stayed on each of the five hills he traveled, how many cats stayed on each hill? Your students will find story problems featuring these familiar tales and characters fun and much less intimidating than those word problems lacking a well known context. You, as teacher, will find the stories and characters in this thematic unit an infinite resource for creating story problems targeting specific analytical/computational strategies and skills.

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