This week, I want to talk about the math literature book
This story has been around for 15 or so years and I still can't get enough of it. It addresses the mathematical idea of doubling or the power of 2 function. I have used it in grades 3 through 6 and sometimes read it multiple times to one class over a span of a few years. It is a folktale and it has social messages as well as being very strong on the mathematics. It is a great way to get intermediate kids EXCITED about math.
I often use this book the first week of school or on the day before a vacation or another wiggly time. I pose a problem such as this:
In fourth grade (or whatever grade the kid is in), I think kids should have 40 minutes of homework per night. A student came up with a different idea. He thinks there should be one second of homework the first day of school, 2 seconds the second day, 4 seconds the third day and 8 seconds the fourth day. The amount of homework doubles each day. This class can choose between my idea and this students' idea. Work with a partner to figure out which way would be better for you.
Kids often use a table to track the results of this problem and within 15-20 minutes partners come to the realization that doubling quickly catches up with and surpasses doing 40 minutes of homework each night.
I have 2 pairs gets together and talk about what they notice and then read this story as a culmination of the activity. The story serves to show a visual image of what doubling does as well as show some numbers that help kids "check" their own work. There is even a table at the back that shows the results of 30 doublings.
With third graders (and occasionally second) I use this book in a slightly different way. I often combine it with reading and writing large numbers. They still enjoy the story very much but I focus on how to say and write the numbers represented in the story.
Stay tuned next week for another Math Literature Monday!
If you are new to my Math Literature Monday posts, click here to start at the beginning! OR Click here to head to Volume 7!