Great Reads on the Big Screen
This fall, three new theatrical releases are based on favorite children’s books. Here’s how to hook interest in the movies with reading, science, and math.

Where the Wild Things Are
In Theaters October 16
Based on the picture book written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak

In language arts: Discuss how Max is feeling at the beginning of Where the Wild Things Are versus the end. Have students ever felt as “wild” as Max? What do students do to make themselves feel better when they’re angry? Give students the writing prompt “When I feel wild, I…” and invite them to write one paragraph in response. You might also share other books about feeling “wild,” such as Molly Bang’s When Sophie Gets Angry—Really, Really Angry... and Lisa Jahn-Clough’s Alicia Has a Bad Day.

In science: Invite students to research their own “wild thing”—otherwise known as a rainforest animal. Have each child find out about the habit, diet, and life expectancy of his or her animal. List these facts at the bottom of an 8-by-11-inch piece of white paper, and have children illustrate their animals on the top. Post students’ artwork on a bulletin board titled “The Rainforest: Where the Real Wild Things Are.”

In math: Encourage students to come up with nonsense words that describe what the wild things might eat, say, or wear. Then invite them to make up story problems based on these activities. For example, “On Friday the wild things ate eight poodlepuffs. On Saturday they ate eleven. How many poodlepuffs did the wild things eat in total?” Have students try to solve one another’s work.

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
In Theaters September 18
Based on the picture book by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Ron Barrett

In language arts: Draw students’ attention to the following words featured in the story: meatballs, pancake, breakfast, schoolhouse, northwest. What do these words have in common? Reveal that words composed of two or more words are known as compound words. Ask students to imagine a town like Chewandswallow where something else that can be described by a compound word falls from the sky—maybe it’s baseballs or grasshoppers. Invite them to illustrate the town and label with the appropriate compound words.

In science: Appoint a forecaster to announce the predicted temperature during your morning meeting, as well as what’s scheduled that day for lunch. Later, compare the predicted temperature to the actual one. Then discuss the accuracy of the lunch forecast. Did the cafeteria serve up any interesting surprises?

In math: Create a simple graph by asking every child to write what he or she had for dinner the night before on a sticky note. Post the notes on a bulletin board, and call on volunteers to group the notes in categories that make sense to them (pasta, chicken, and beef, for example). Challenge the remaining students to identify another way to group the notes.

The Fantastic Mr. Fox
In Theaters November 13
Based on the novella by Roald Dahl

In language arts: After reading the story, ask students whether or not they think it is okay for Mr. Fox to steal food from the farmers Boggis, Bunce, and Bean. Why or why not? Record students’ reasoning on chart paper. Then invite small groups to write one paragraph either defending Mr. Fox or explaining why he is in the wrong. Is there one right answer?

In science:
Bring in some carrots that still have green tops. Show the carrots to students and discuss why Mr. Fox took them in the story (in order to feed the rabbits). Reveal that the orange part of the carrot that we eat is actually the root of the plant, which grows downward into the soil. Cut any leaves off your carrots and then cut a few inches from the tops. Place two inches of rocks in a bowl and nestle the carrot tops among the stones. Fill the bowl with water. In a few days, the carrots will sprout new leaves once more. 

In math: When Mr. Fox steals chickens, geese, and vegetables from the farmers, how much does he have to carry? Take a closer look at one of the incidents in the book, and have students estimate the weight of each stolen item. Add the estimates together to get the total estimated weight. Then, help students to check their guesses by researching the actual weights of the items online.  —Hannah Trierweiler Hudson
Number Sentence Fun
Liven up your next math lesson with these fresh number sentence activities.

Number Sentence Memory
Write the terms for the parts of a number sentence on blank note cards: make ten cards that say “Addend,” five “Minuend” cards, five “Subtrahend” cards, five “Sum” cards, and five “Difference” cards. Mix up the cards and lay them out in rows, face down. Students then take turns to try to find a set. For example, students must find either two “Addend” cards and one “Sum” card or one “Minuend,” one “Subtrahend,” and one “Difference” card. If this is too challenging, remove one set of cards. For example, all the “Addend” and “Sum” cards.

Testing the Temperature
Using the newspaper or Internet, have students find the predicted temperatures for a coming week. Each day, record the actual temperature using a classroom thermometer that’s been set outside. Next, have students create a number sentence using the data. If it is cooler than predicted, have them subtract the actual temperature from the predicted temperature. For example, 75 degrees (predicted) minus 69 degrees (actual) equals six degrees difference. Or, if it is warmer, switch the numbers.

Family and Furry Friends
Have students create a number sentence based on how many “creatures” live at their homes. Ask them to add the number of people and the number of pets to get a sum. Next, as a class, find the total number of both people and pets. Subtract the lower number from the higher one to see which creature outnumbers the other. Create a bulletin board where students post pictures of their pets or the pets they’d like to have.

Phone It In
Challenge students to subtract the first three digits of their phone number from the last four digits of their phone number. For an added challenge, have students add up the individual numbers of their phone number. If adding the numbers is too much, have them add up the numbers in their address. Create “flip phones” out of construction paper and have the students write their number sentences on the outside of the phone and their sums or differences on the inside.

Where Have You Been?
As a class, make a list of all the states students have visited or lived in. Then create a number sentence in which you subtract the number of places they’ve been from 50 to determine how many more states students have left to visit. Post a large map and let students use labels or push pins to identify the states they’ve been to.

Change It Up
Give groups a small, random collection of coins. Next, ask them to add up how much money they have. Finally, challenge the students to create a number sentence using the coins’ total. If the amount is under 100 cents have them subtract the amount from $1.00. If it’s higher, than have them subtract $1.00 from the amount. Display the number sentences on pretend dollar bills that are partially tucked into paper wallets or money bags on a bulletin board. —Carmella VanVleet