Tuesday, October 30, 2012

5 Favorite Fraction Books

It's no secret that I'm addicted to math-related children's books. Yet even within that genre, there are concepts that scream for my attention.


Why fractions? They lend themselves to story. And the stories help to heal a bit of my wounded math self. As a 4th grader, I was one of a small group of kids in the accelerated math group. Our teacher told us to go ahead in the book, as fast as we wanted. I was SO PROUD. I flew. Until I crashed. Into the chapter on fractions. I was too embarrassed to tell her that I had no clue. None. Nada. Zilch. Not even 1/100th of an idea of how to do this new, intimidating stuff that masqueraded as math. So I stressed. Kept silent. And the rest of the class passed me.

Here are some books that help to heal the fraction-anxious 4th grader in me:

We enjoyed a great little exploration with fractions and doubling with Matthew McElligott's book, The Lion's Share: A Tale of Halving Cake and Eating It, Too (2009.) In the story, an ant is invited to the lion king's dinner party. At the party, the other animals demonstrate horrendous manners. When the king passes the cake, each animal takes half of the cake he is passed. So, the elephant take half of the original cake and passes on a half. The hippo takes half of that piece (a quarter) and passes the remains to the gorilla who takes another half (an eighth of the original), passing the remainder on to each animal until a mere morsel is given to the ant. The tiny creature, embarrassed because he doesn't have enough to share, tells the king that he'll return the next day with a special cake for the king. Each animal, wanting to outdo the next, agrees to bring double the amount of cakes to the king. So the ant will bring one, the beetle two, the frog four, and so on. Click to the entire lesson with visuals.

This out-of-print book can often be found inexpensive, used. Little Numbers and Pictures That Show Just How Little They Are! is a nice fraction/decimal book to use with 3rd-5th grade students because:

1. The "unit" is a dinosaur. Specifically, a seismosaurus. Kids need to understand that a "unit" can be flexible. In this book, everything is measured in terms of a dinosaur unit.

2. The book depicts increasingly smaller measurements. If a dinosaur is worth 1, then a dinosaur shrunk to 1/10 will fit in the front yard. It talks about various other tenths, like a dime being a tenth of a dollar. It shows both decimals and the fraction equivalent.

3. The numbers creatively get smaller, each time decreasing by powers of ten. For example... 1/10,000 is an ant. 1/1,000,000 is an amoeba. Some kids will be very intrigued by the exponents, which are also included.

4. The book is big (13 x 8") and good with crowds.

The boys and I found a book that we absolutely love. Ed Emberley's Picture Pie is a circle drawing book. He shows you how to divide circles into fractional pie pieces to create designs, flowers, birds, animals, fish, clowns and a whole host of fun pictures. Click to the entire lesson with visuals. And a follow up lesson with creative writing. With the same lessons we also use Picture Pie Two.

My opinion about The Wishing Club; a Story About Fractions by Donna Jo Napoli, totally changed. When I read it alone, I wasn't terribly excited. When I read it to my student, his enthusiasm was catching. In the book, siblings, ages 8, 8, (twins), 4, and 2, wish on a star. Over several nights they discover that their wishes are granted in fractions, determined by their ages: 8yos get 1/8, 4yo gets 1/4, 2yo gets 1/2. My student quickly understood the concept of fractions, exclaiming after the second page (which shows four 1/4ths make 1), "then one penny is 1/5th of a nickel!" In the story, the siblings put their wishes together to make one whole wish and get the wish that all of them want.

Disclosure: If you purchase books through my Amazon links, all commissions go toward foster care through Grace and Hope at no additional cost to you. I do not keep any money myself; I am hoping to be able to sponsor an additional child in foster care through commissions on this site. Thank you!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Math Monday Blog Hop #72 (Oct. 29, 2012)

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

10 Ways to Mess Up a Child's Mathematical Mind

I don't know many people who went into elementary education or homeschooling because of their love for math. (I know a few of you are out there. You're weird. Outliers. Accept it with pride.) Teaching math can be challenging, particularly if we have our own math demons lurking in the closet. The following post is designed expressly for those who would like to ruin the mathematicians of the next generation. If that's not you, you can skip it...or read it with the humor intended.

10 Ways to Mess Up a Child's Mathematical Mind:

1. Teach her that there is only one way to solve a problem. Reinforce that by giving her assignments in which she learns a set of predetermined steps to solve a particular type of problem and then practices that sequence over and over and over. And over. Don't ask her if there are other ways to solve problems.

2. Teach him that math is a solitary process. Reinforce it by placing him alone in front of a computer or textbook without talking about a variety of math strategies that might be used to solve similar problems. (See #1!)

3. Teach her that math only exists between the pages of textbooks. Don't point out the math you use as you grocery shop, balance your checkbook, calculate miles/gallon, prepare dinner, or figure how long it is until her bedtime so you can watch Jersey Shore in peace.

4. Teach him to be fearful of math. This is easy. It helps to do #1-3 above. But it also helps to model your own fearful behavior. Say things like, "Math is hard for me." Or "I never liked math." Or "I was born without the math gene." According to Marilyn Burns (Math: Facing An American Phobia), you're in good company with 2/3rds of American adults being math phobic. You're already on the bandwagon. It's a popular place to be. Don't jump ship now!

5. Teach her that math is primarily a world of pencil and paper. Don't ask her to estimate or use mental math.

6. Teach him to avoid visual cues. Forget using manipulatives, sketches, or drawings.

7. Don't read any math-related children's literature. Don't play any math games.

8. Always emphasize the importance of fact memorization. Drill, drill, drill. And if she can't get it, drill some more.

9. Never look at what wrong answers have to teach us. That would just be wrong!

10. Teach her that math is boring. And scary. Reinforce with #1-9 above.

Want to add to my list? Comment with your own ways to mess with children's mathematical minds!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Math Monday Blog Hop #71 (Oct. 22, 2012)

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Monday, October 15, 2012

Math Monday Blog Hop # 70 (Oct. 15, 2012)

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Sunday, October 14, 2012

New Math Monday Blog Button!!!

Here's a HUGE SHOUT OUT to Heather of Teaching My 3 who created this gorgeous button for the Math Monday Blog Hop. Thank you so much, Heather!!

Ironically, and without Heather's knowledge, I've been doing a lot of finger math this fall. The new picture couldn't be more perfect!

While you're blog hopping, check out Heather's big fall blog hop!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Explore Units of Math -OR- What is One?

Nice video from TED-Ed. Description:

One bag of apples, one apple, one slice of apple -- which of these is one unit? Explore the basic unit of math (explained by a trip to the grocery store!) and discover the many meanings of one.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Math Monday Blog Hop #69 (Oct. 8, 2012)

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Monday, October 1, 2012

Math Monday Blog Hop #68 (Oct. 1, 2012)

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