Sunday, November 29, 2009

Math Stories

I posted, back in June, about my favorite math books. They're ordered from youngest to oldest readers, and the first one is Quack and Count, by Keith Baker:
This is a board book, so it's good for the youngest child who will sit and listen to a story. But it stays good because it's so luscious. Great illustrations, fun rhythm and rhyme, cute story, and good mathematics. 7 ducklings are enjoying themselves in every combination. “Slipping, sliding, having fun, 7 ducklings, 6 plus 1.” (And then 5 plus 2, etc.) It would be great to have a book like this for all the number pairs that make 8, and one for 9, etc.
I teach the 'big kids' (8 to 14, most 10 and under) at Wildcat, the 'freeschool' my son attends, and another parent teaches the 'little kids' (5 to 7). She has to move from one house to another this week, and I just agreed to sub for her. I have enough trouble getting myself to move down from my college professor level to teach the 'big kids' well. I had a moment's panic when my son said, "Do easy things, Mom." Then I remembered Quack and Count.

I have 7 rubber ducks I borrowed from my son, so we can act out the story with the ducks. And then... Hmm... We have lots of active boys, and maybe a number story like this about cars would appeal to them. Maybe if I wrote it, they could illustrate it. I know they aren't big on extended writing, but maybe they'd get into thinking up other number stories.

Here's my first draft:

Crash and Count!

5 little race cars in a row
Count those race cars as they go

Racing fast and having fun
5 little race cars, 4 plus 1

5 little race cars, 3 plus 2
Looked like a crash, but then some flew!

Now they need to miss the trees
5 little race cars, 2 plus 3

5 little race cars, 1 plus 4
Most of them have crushed their doors

Turn off the engine, climb out fast
5 little race cars stop at last

[Edited to add: I just realized that this story verges on plagiarism. I copied the pattern given by Quack and Count as closely as I could. That seems totally cool for creating math lessons, but maybe not so cool for a story I'm posting online. So consider this a take-off on Baker's work.]

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