based on Math Fables
by Greg Tang
About the Book
This is no ordinary counting book. It tells short rhyming stories incorporating animals and their environment in which each lives. Each mini story counts one number higher, but also uses other numbers, when put together, equal that higher number. So children have early exposure to more about numbers instead of just basic recognition and counting up. The illustrations are delightful, as happy animals of all kinds dance and flutter, swim and play across each page. Dont miss the teaching ideas found in the back of the book.
Set the Stage
Get the students ready to read by looking at the cover, reading the title, author and illustrator and talk about what they see.
- What kinds of things do you see on the cover of the book?
- The title is Math Fables. Does anyone know what a fable is?
- Discuss that you would expect to see drawing of animals doing things that real animals probably would not do. (Ants would carry away food, but not huge pieces of the food, like in the book, beavers would gnaw on the branches to make their dam, but would not sit on a tree stump like a boy or girl would, squirrels do collect food for the cold months but dont wear scarves and mittens).
- Go through the book and do a picture walk. Talk about each picture without reading the words. Count the number of animals on each page before you turn to the next so children to begin to see the counting up pattern. Talk about where the animals live on each page.
After enjoying the whimsical illustrations and mini stories, ask these questions:
- How did this book make you feel? Why?
- The animals all had problems that they worked together to solve. What kinds of problems did some of the animals have? When was a time when you had a problem and you had to work with someone to solve it?
Students will use a calculator to solve the problems and break the secret code.
To extend student learning, try these activities:
- Wheres Their Home?: Find out what part of the country animals from the story live and mark it on a giant floor map. Talk about which direction each location is from where you live. Use directional words with the students. Dont forget to include Mexico, where the butterflies were heading for the colder months.
- Counting Fun: Play out the numbers in the story with unifix cubes or another type of counting math manipulative. Give the students ten cubes to begin. Ask them to count the numbers and manipulate the cubes as directed by the information on each page. You can use the last page in the book to show the students counting backward from ten.
- Be An Author: Make a number book of your own. Complete a page each day. Copy the numbers on the board and let the students come up with the animals they want to use. Let them illustrate each page, making sure they write the number with their creations.
- Number Creations: Practice writing the numbers in an unconventional way. Use pudding on metal pans, sand, or finger paint.
- Making Animal Homes: Start an ant farm that you can order from a scientific supply company. Watch the ants and let students draw pictures of what they see. They may want to write a story about their ants. CAUTION: Do not let children collect outdoor ants for the farm. Some ant bites can be deadly to children who are allergic. Or create a butterfly garden, which you can order from a scientific supply company or your local plant nursery. This is a wonderful science learning experience for your students.