The House that Max Built, by Max-
well Newhouse (Tundra books, 2008), is a book for young children that chronicles the construction of a house, from the architect drawing up plans to gardeners finishing the landscaping. Painterly illustrations depict the progression of construction through- out the seasons. Both men and women are shown on the job, and a diverse population is portrayed helping Max to build his house on the lake. A list of tradespeople and their tasks is included at the end of the story. This book could prompt discussions about hous- ing around the world (does every house have electricity and indoor plumbing?), construc- tion methods and materials, and sources of energy. Making model homes or scale replicas of children’s homes would be a great way to integrate linear measurement.
Tyrannosaurus Math, by Michelle
Markel (Tricycle Press, 2009), is a picture book for seven- through ten-year-olds that explores different kinds of math skills. T-Math is one of the offspring in a family of large, mathematically oriented dinosaurs. He engages in counting, addition, using math symbols to create number sentences, sym- metry, graphing data, multiplication, sub- traction, geometry, and other skills. When his sister is in trouble, he uses his mathemat- ical abilities to help her out of a dangerous spot. It seems there’s nothing he can’t solve with math. That is, until he tries to count the stars. Feeling discouraged doesn’t last long, however, when the mother suggests that is the perfect time to use estimation. A brief description of each set of skills and examples in the story of each follow the story. This could be a good entry point for a classroom discussion about explicit math skills the group is working with.
The History of Counting, by Denise
How Long or How Wide: A Measuring Guide and On the Scale, A Weighty Tale (Millbrook Press, 2007), are two books in the series Math Is Categorical, by Brian P. Cleary. Using rhyming text, the author introduces linear measurement and massing. Both books include “standard” and metric units. Students five through eight will enjoy these books. Many examples of situations in which measurement can be useful are given, but because the text is whimsical, it could cause some confusion: “The very heaviest of things we talk about in tons. Like trucks and trains of ducks and cranes or freighters filled with buns.” Illustrations by Brian Gable add to the playful nature of these books. More about the books, activities, and games are at brianpcleary.com.
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Schmandt-Besserat (Morrow Junior Books, 1999), is one of our favorite mathemati- cal books for children. It is a wonderful example of integrating math and history, as well as showing cultural differences around the world and through time. “For most of their time on earth, in fact, modern humans had no numbers.” This is an astounding statement! How is it possible to live with- out numbers? What influences whether a population needs to be able to count using numbers? Concrete and abstract counting are explained. The movement from hunter/gatherer lives to agrarian to business, trades, and industries has certainly affected our need for numbers and adaptive number systems. Although this is an older title it is well worth track- ing down. The publisher lists it as still being avail- able through major online booksellers.
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