These activities are taken from Teaching Early Math Skills with Favorite Picture Books available from Scholastic Professional Books.
In the Caldecott Honor book, Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey, Little Sal and her mother are picking blueberries. As Little Sal drops blueberries into her tin pail and counts the sounds they make—“kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk!”—she meanders away from her mother and ends up trailing a mother bear. At the same time, the bear cub absentmindedly begins trailing Sal’s mother. A comedy of errors ensues as each little one follows the wrong mother.
Meeting Math Standards: Number and Operations
- Adding and subtracting
- Using objects to compute; using mental computation
Math is always more meaningful when connected to everyday life; therefore it is mathematically important that students see the connections between their own lives and the math concepts they’re learning. Explain that examples of math are found everywhere, and adults often use math in their daily lives without even thinking about it. Ask children to think of a time they have used math in their daily life, and share times you regularly use math in yours. As you get ready to read aloud Blueberries for Sal, ask students to listen carefully to see if they can find examples of math in the story.
Your students will delight in the antics of this book, as Little Sal and Little Bear follow the wrong mothers. Research supports facilitating making connections in children’s reading because it is what good readers do, and because it is essential for comprehension. Encourage children to make their own connections to the text by relating what happens to their lives. Ask:
- How do you think Little Sal’s mother felt when she discovered a bear instead of her child following her? (Repeat with Little Bear’s mother.)
- How do you think Little Bear felt? (Repeat with Little Sal.)
- How would you feel if you discovered you were following a bear around instead of the person taking care of you? How do you think the bear would react?