Tag Archives: math picture books

I Love Math Books

I heard about the I Love Math series through the Living Math website awhile back, but I didn’t immediately bite and buy them.  Despite their praise-filled reviews, I couldn’t quite get a handle on what these looked like and what they might contain.  Because they were sold as Time Life book sets about twenty years ago, I suspect you’re unlikely to find them in many libraries (they weren’t in ours).  However, I finally bought a couple of them – Look Both Ways and Do Octopi Eat Pizza Pie? and was glad I did.

Each book has a lot of different things all around a central theme.  The theme in Look Both Ways is cities.  There are mathy poems and stories that take place in cities, math puzzles and problems, and math games.  Different parts of the book are done by different illustrators and writers in somewhat different styles.  One page is photos of buildings encouraging readers to find different shapes and look at symmetry.  Another page is cartoon animals in a story about directions through the city.  The table of contents as well as small notes at the bottom of some of the pages explain what math is being covered by various activities, such as odd and even numbers, addition and subtraction, geometrical shapes, money and so forth.  In some ways, we’re already past these, which is too bad.  I think they’re mostly K-3rd grade math and some of the things in them will be too simple for Mushroom and BalletBoy.  However, they’re appealing to kids and have a sit down and browse feel.  They introduce some solid concepts so I may get more, especially for Mushroom.  You know, as if we didn’t have enough living math books already!

Mobius Strip Math Book

We read Zachary Zormer, Shape Transformer by Joanne Reisberg the other day and really liked it.  It’s from the same imprint that does the much better known Sir Cumference books.  This book dealt with mobius strips, as well as length, perimeter and area.  Zach keeps forgetting his show and tell math homework, only to turn scraps of papers and a small penlight into fabulous tricks for his classmates, upstaging his rival each time.

Of course, we immediately had to make our own paper tricks like the ones in the book.  This is one of the things I love about homeschooling.  I saw the book in the library and, being a lover of math picture books, I took it out.  We sat down to read it on the sofa for school and an impromptu lesson was born.  No prep work.  Just school fun.

Math picture books for kids are some of my favorite things.  I was glad to discover that Charlesbridge Publishing has so many more that I haven’t even read.  Of course, there are many other good “living” math books, such as MathStart books, Greg Tang’s books, Loreen Leedy’s math books, Mitsumasa Anno‘s math books and many more.  I’m also especially fond of the old Young Math Books, which go into a pretty high level of depth.  So here’s to real books instead of textbooks teaching about math.  Not that there’s anything wrong with textbooks, we like those too, just that I love these gentler approaches for kids who like to learn by curling up to hear a story on the sofa.

Measurement Books

One of our co-ops is starting a new theme on measurement.  We often do very little to go along with our co-op themes.  We might check out a few books from the library and we talk about what we’re learning about in the co-op, but otherwise, I haven’t been connecting it with other aspects of our schooling.  However, this time around, I thought it might be a good chance to take a break (mostly) from our math curriculum and do a unit on measurement at home too.  I bought the Math Mammoth blue series book on measurement.  Here are the kids measuring their new books with paperclips and crayons.  BalletBoy insisted that they all needed to be green crayons for some reason.  Some of the content is a little too sophisticated for my first graders, but much of it will be a good little text for us to do as we explore the topic.

We also checked out an absurd pile of books on measurement from the library.  Here are some highlights.

Measuring Penny by Loreen Leedy
As always, Loreen Leedy’s clever book leads the pack for measurement.  This is a classic one.  A girl measures her dog in every way she can imagine for a school project.  It’s an inspiring sort of book in that it’s easy to use it as a jumping off point for measuring more things.

Room for Ripley and Super Sand Castle Saturday by Stuart J. Murphy
We found these two titles from Stuart J. Murphy’s MathStart series.  They’re both good.  In the first, volume is explored in simple terms as a boy fills up a bowl for a new fish.  In the second, many kinds of measurements are explored as kids build sand castles.

How Tall How Short How Far Away by David A. Adler
This cheerfully drawn book gives a quick introduction to the history of measuring length, showing little pictures of Egyptians measuring with their arms to make cubits.  After talking about what measurements we use today for length, it invites the reader to think about which ones are right for which tasks.

If Dogs Were Dinosaurs by David Schwartz
This book, along with its companion, If You Hopped Like a Frog, use excellent illustrations to show a comparison of sizes and lengths.  This is a creative little book that’s short enough to be enjoyed by younger kids, but interesting enough to be enjoyed by adults.  There’s no story, but each page is a thought provoking little summary.

How Fast Is It? by Ben Hillman
This book, with glossy photoshopped images, was full of fun facts comparing the speeds of different things.  Each page had a different topic.  It highlighted not only some of the fastest things, but also just compared some unexpected things like the speeds of swimming birds and flying fish.

Science Factory: Units and Measurements by Jon Richards
We checked out several measurement activity books, but all of them quickly went back to the library except this one.  Almost all the projects in this book involve making your own measuring devices, such as an hourglass with two bottles and a balance out of a coat hanger.  I want the kids to make a measuring wheel and measure the distance around our block.