Stories of Math - Graphs, Fractions, Multiplication and Animals!


Here are some favorite picture books we have been sharing as a family that play with math!

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Imagine a world without line graphs, bar graphs, or pie graphs! This book is about William Playfair, the man behind those "pictures." It's a colorful story as he was a bit of a rapscallion (the endnotes make it clear he was even more scandalous than the picture book text lets on), a free thinker whose ideas were not taken seriously in part because of his poor reputation, in part because only numbers were considered scientific. It's hard to believe these now ubiquitous graphs did not catch on until around 1900. This was a lively read with engaging and silly illustrations that kept my 6yo interested. 


I loved the reproductions of his actual original graphs in the endnotes (see photo above). 




Just a Second
Math and animals! We loved both of these books that explore time and numbers via the amazing lives of animals. Steve Jenkins is one of my favorite authors/illustrators of picture books about animals.


The King's Chessboard
Multiplication, measurement, and moguls. This clever and humorous picture book was my son's favorite read-aloud this week! The King's Chessboard tells the traditional Indian tale of a wise man who, as his reward, requests that the King give him one grain of rice for the first square of the chessboard and on subsequent days double the amount of the previous day's amount until all the squares of the chessboard are covered. When it becomes too cumbersome to count the grains of rice, the Official Grainery worker switches to ounces, then pounds, then tons.

Reading this story introduces your child to the world of multiplication, very large numbers, and measurement. The amounts quickly become ridiculous, which kids love. When one official calculated the amount due a week later, my son exclaimed, "That's more rice than the entire country of India produces in a year!" We stopped and predicted three times how much rice the King would have to give on the last day. Afterwards my son and I used a calculator to figure out exactly how many tons the 64th day would require. We also wanted to see if our calculations for the total cumulative amount matched the King's official mathematicians' figure. I had to open up a spreadsheet to figure out that one. With an older kid you could also try writing the amounts using exponents with powers of 2.

Other fun questions to consider: How many grains of rice are in an ounce?  On what day could we use the amount of rice to feed our family? Our city? Our country?

Other books that tell the same story: One Grain of Rice by Demi, The Rajah's Rice by Barry, and A Grain of Rice by Pittman. We also love the Chinese tale Two of Everything, which involves doubling as well.



The Cookie Fiasco
How to share 3 cookies among 4 friends? I try to pair a picture book and quick math activity about once a week during Morning Time. The Cookie Fiasco was short, funny and perfect for all three of my kids (6, 8, 10). We stopped part way through and each drew how we would share. 


A Few Other Recent Favorite #storiesofmaths


Here are links to all our favorite picture book read-alouds by subject: 

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