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Monday, October 6, 2014

Monday Math Literature Volume 60

As many of you know, I have a huge collection of math literature that I love using with students.  Recently, I got a new book to add to my collection and it has already become one of my new favorites.  A few months ago, I shared You Can Count on Monsters with you which is a fantastic book to use when talking about multiplication and prime and composite numbers. Richard Evan Schwartz, the author of You Can Count on Monsters has written another book.

This is not your average Math Literature book!  The first thing that is very different about this book is the length.  It is the longest picture book I own at almost 200 pages.  Another thing that is very different is the pictures.  They were made with a computer drawing program called Inkscape which makes them engaging and bright.  It also makes the diagrams and other mathematical pictures blend in nicely with the more traditional illustrations.  

The book starts out with the premises that reading this book is like climbing a ladder.  You might not make it all the way to the top the first time.  This is really a book that a kid can have around for years and get a bit more out of each time they read it and their mathematical knowledge grows.

I plan on using this book in just about every grade this year.  Here are some of my ideas about using this book in various classrooms.

Using this book with K-1 Students

Kids this age seem to think 100 is the biggest number in the world.  I like the idea of using the first 40 pages or so with young children to introduce them to the idea of bigger numbers.  These pages take them through some big ideas for primary kids about counting by 10's, what 100 looks like, counting by 100's and the idea of one thousand.  I love how this book shows 100 pictured in many ways and I would bring this into the classroom by giving small groups of kids 100 dot stickers and having them make a picture or a display of some sort.  This would be a great way of helping them with estimating and counting skills.   

Taking it to the next level in grades 2-3

As kids start second grade and begin working with numbers up to 1000 I often start getting questions about much bigger numbers.  This is also when the competitions seem to start where kids try to name bigger numbers than their friends.  This is also when I hear a lot of fake numbers like a gillion (which historically was a number), a zillion or a bazillion.  This is when I like to have "the talk" with kids about bigger numbers.  After "the talk" there are always kids who have more questions about big numbers than I have answers to and this book would be a great way to help answer some of those questions.  I could read the first third of this book to the whole class and leave it out for those kids who are ready for more to explore on their own or in a small group.   

Getting at some big ideas in grades 4-6

At this level, I have some kids who are already showing huge mathematical potential.  I have kids who are always thinking about math.  The questions in this book like "how many ways can you color a tic-tac-toe board with three colors" get kids brains thinking and seeing math in their everyday lives.  There are many good questions and ideas in this book that could provide the basis of a challenge for kids who are already meeting classroom standards and are ready to take their math learning to the next level. 

As a whole group lesson, many students of this age would benefit from reading most of this book.  Kids this age really like to know about what they are going to learn in middle school or high school and this book can give them some ideas about that in a friendly and nonthreatening way.  Hearing number words like quintillion and octillion make kids laugh and keep them engaged in learning more about math.  The focus on powers of 10 really helps kids build on previous place value knowledge and learn how exponents can really speed things up.  

By the time you get to the back cover, you will be exploring numbers that are completely abstract and very complex.  There will probably be things you as a teacher learn about big numbers from reading this book.  You might not make it to the end the first time you read this to a class or even read it to yourself but the next time you pick it up, you might be ready to read a bit farther.  This book has a lot of potential for sparking mathematical curiosity in your students while increasing your own knowledge and understanding of really big numbers.   

How would you use this book with your students?  Please respond in the comments below! 


  1. I love the way you continue to encourage us to use literature to build up our math instruction.
    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

  2. Thanks so much!! I really wNt to check this book out!!
    Curious firsties