Math Tie-In

This Plus That: Life’s Little Equations

Posted by on Jul 31, 2013 in Craft and Structure, Early Learning, Fluency, Logic Smart, Math Tie-In, Print Awareness, Print Concepts, Self Smart | 2 comments

This Plus ThatNot only is this week’s picture book a fun way to teach some of the Common Core State Standards in Reading, it is also the best inspiration for your “welcome back to school” classroom bulletin board.

This Plus That: Life’s Little Equations written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Jen Corace is sheer brilliance. It starts with:

1 + 1 = us

I love it! Not only will your students know how to read math symbols after sharing this book, but they’ll look at math much more creatively.

Smile + wave = hello
Smile + ocean wave = beach

Some are compare and contrast (I love what does and does not equal a sincere apology!), some are stand-alone sentences. Most are addition, but other math ideas come into play as well:
cozy + smell of pancakes – alarm clock = weekend

This would be fun to pair with 1 + 1 = 5 by David La Rochelle and Brenda Sexton if you’d like to hit Integrating Knowledge & Ideas, but all on its own This Plus That teaches Print Concepts and works beautifully to build Fluency.

After you share This Plus That, brainstorm and write equations with your students. In the book:

leaves + hot soup = fall

What things add up to fall for your students? And I’d love to make a welcoming bulletin board with:

1 + 1 = us    and       Joe + Gabriel + Julia + Matt…. = our class

This Plus That + your students = a whole new way of writing with math symbols!

For more information about the author, please visit

For more information about the illustrator, please visit


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Farmers’ Market Day

Posted by on May 29, 2013 in Early Learning, Fluency, Integrating Knowledge and Ideas, Logic Smart, Math, Math Tie-In, Michigan Author, Nature Smart, Phonological Awareness, Rhyming, Self Smart | 0 comments

farmersmarketdayI am counting the days until my local farmers’ market opens. Until then, I’m glad I found this perfect pick: Farmers’ Market Day written by debut picture-book author Shanda Trent and illustrated by Jane Dippold. This rhyming book is a quick read that can easily be turned into an interactive “imagination” station or a fun math center for students to practice counting money.

A little girl and her family go to the farmers’ market on Saturday. The little girl has her own money from her piggy bank and she’s not sure what to buy – maybe a basket of cherries, a jar of honey, freshly-baked bread or flowers for the garden? Each enticing item is labeled with a price tag, like $2.00, or 12/$3.00, or 50 cents. Reading aloud this short rhyming book will have your little listeners eager to choose what they’d buy for themselves, and that’s where you can extend the book in ways to draw your students back to rereading.

Younger students can make their own farmers’ market in a pretend-play area. Plastic fruits, vegetables, and flowers can be bought and sold. Students can use Farmers’ Market Day to decide what should be for sale and how much to write on each price tag. (Using the information found in both the text and the pictures is a way of Integrating Knowledge and Ideas. Woohoo!) Older students can use the book to practice money skills. Ears of corn cost $3.00 per dozen – how many ears of corn do you need to feed your class, and how much will it cost? If you have $10.00, what items would you buy? Show your shopping list! With summer and real live farmers’ markets just around the corner, Farmers’ Market Day is a real treat.

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Iggy Peck, Architect

Posted by on May 8, 2013 in Art, Body Smart, Craft and Structure, Early Learning, Integrating Knowledge and Ideas, Logic Smart, Math Tie-In, Phonological Awareness, Print Motivation, Rhyming, Science, Vocabulary | 1 comment

iggy-peck-architect-coverLong have I loved Andrea Beaty’s picture book series about a bear named Ted (grab Doctor Ted, Firefighter Ted, and Artist Ted from your local library and prepare to be charmed.) Then, I saw sitting on the shelf by the Ted books this gem, just waiting to tie in perfectly with science, math, and phonological awareness lessons.

Iggy Peck, Architect written by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts will grab young readers on page 1:

“Young Iggy Peck is an architect
and has been since he was two,
when he built a great tower – in only an hour –
with nothing but diapers and glue.”

The story about a young boy who loves to build and saves the day with his architectural skills is told in fantastic rhyme. (Hello, Common Core Standard of Phonological Awareness!) But the beauty of this book is that after you’ve used it in reading lesson, it inspires all kinds of science, art, and math extensions.

When his class is stranded on a small island, Iggy teaches his classmates how to construct a suspension bridge from “boots, tree roots and strings, fruit roll-ups and things”. After sharing Iggy Peck, Architect, pull out Bridges by Seymour Simon to learn more about suspension bridges and how they work (and pat yourself on the back for Integrating Knowledge and Ideas, you Core Standard wizard.) You may choose to forgo tree roots and boots, but challenge your students to plan and construct a suspension bridge, perhaps between two tables, with materials like string, paper, straws, etc. Students can use graph paper like David Roberts did when they draw up their plans, measuring actual distances and then scaling the distances down on paper before they build. Your students will be measuring, counting, drawing, predicting, and revising as they work. Keep architecture books like Bridges! Amazing Structures to Design, Build, and Test by Carol A. Johmann  and Elizabeth J. Rieth, or the wonderful David Macaulay books on hand for those inspired by Iggy Peck. As Miss Lila Greer, the teacher in Iggy Peck, Architect realizes:

“There are worse things to do when you’re in grade two
than to spend your time building a dream.”

For more information about the author, go to

For more information about the illustrator, go to

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Doggone Feet is Doggone Fun!

Posted by on Feb 20, 2013 in Craft and Structure, Early Learning, Key Ideas and Details, Logic Smart, Math, Math Tie-In, Michigan Author, Readers' Theater, Rhyming, Technology | 0 comments

There are many perks to being a children’s librarian (no overdue fines has saved me a bundle over the years) but one of the best parts of my job is getting to know supah-cool authors and illustrators like Leslie Helakoski. Leslie is a Michigan treasure I’ve had the pleasure of knowing for years, and I’m geeked to share her brand new book with you: Doggone Feet.

Dog follows a pair of feet home from the park one day and finds her perfect place under the table. Life is good until two more feet come on the scene:
“They’re twirling leg twisters, toe-tapping kiss-kissers,
rule-listing insisters of doggy shampoos.”
So now the space under the table includes the dog and two sets of two feet, until another pair come along – tiny baby feet. As the family grows the dog must accommodate more pairs of feet in her shrinking space, and she’s not sure she likes the new additions. In the end, though the space under the table is crowded and cramped, the message is clear: families always make room for more.

The first time I read this book, I immediately thought how it perfect it would be for a math lesson. If there were two dogs and three humans, how many feet would be under the table? It’s also a great book to talk about point of view – both figuratively and literally. The story is told from the dog’s perspective, and we don’t see the faces of the humans, just their feet, until the end of the book. You can talk with your students about author/illustrator’s Craft and Structure – why did Ms. Helakoski choose to frame all the illustrations from this different point of view? How might a mouse see life under a dinner table, or a fly over a school cafeteria table at lunchtime? It’d be fun to have students spend a writing session on the floor under their desks, to inspire them to write and draw from a different point of view.

Then I saw the terrific trailer that Leslie’s son, Connor, made for her book:

How cool would it be to combine book-trailer technology with a math lesson centered around Doggone Feet?! Using a free app like Educreations on the iPad or a program like iMovie on computers, students could make a mini-movie to retell the events of the story (check off Key Ideas and Details on your Common Core State Standards score card) either by drawing the action or physically acting it out, adding up the feet as you go. With all the wonderful rhyme and wordplay, it’d be great for Reader’s Theater!  Doggone Feet will be so doggone much fun for your students!

For more information, please visit Leslie’s website at

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