Thursday, February 26, 2015

Math Picture Books to Love: Math Curse

Math Curse by Jon Scieszka

  • Target Skill(s): Math Anxiety and Math in Our World
  • Book Synopsis: A young girl goes through her day plagued by all of the math problems she encounters in her world until she discovers a way to escape her nightmare. 
  • Math Involved: This book deals with math anxiety, as well as, the numerous places math plays a role in our lives. 
  • Questions to Ponder: 
    • Why do some students fear math?
    • What do you think about math?
    • What is math anxiety? How can you deal with math anxiety?
    • When do you use math outside of the classroom?
  • Activity Ideas: 
    • At the beginning of the school year, use the book to introduce students to math class. Then, ask students to create a poem, picture, acrostic, story, or other creative piece to describe how they feel about math. 
    • As the first page in a journal or math notebook, have students use math to describe themselves. Click here for an example. 
    • Discuss how we use math in our everyday world. Then, complete my After Math activity (from my Engaging Mathematics blog series). 
  • Book Link on Amazon:

Math Picture Books to Love: The Greedy Triangle

The Greedy Triangle by Marilyn Burns

  • Target Skill(s): Attributes of Two-Dimensional Geometric Figures
  • Book Synopsis: Triangle was unhappy doing the same old things. One day, it met a shapeshifter who changed its shape into a quadrilateral. After living for a short while as a quadrilateral, Triangle decided it no longer wanted to be a quadrilateral. Again and again, the shapeshifter changed dissatisfied Triangle into other shapes until Triangle finally decided it was happiest as a triangle. Triangle went back to the shapeshifter to return to its old shape and enjoyed the rest of its life. 
  • Math Involved: This book involves geometric vocabulary and terms associated with two-dimensional shapes. 
  • Questions to Ponder:
    • What is a triangle? How do you know when a shape is a triangle?
    • What shapes did Triangle change into? Describe them in order?
    • Where do we find shapes in our world? Give an example. 
    • Why do shapes with a lot of sides roll more easily than shapes with fewer sides?
  • Activity Ideas: 
    • Have students go on a shape hunt to look for 2-D shapes around campus. Then, have students share their findings. 
    • Play, "Who Am I?" Provide descriptions of various 2-D shapes without identifying the shape. Then, let students guess the name of the shape. For example, "I have four sides and I am home plate on a baseball field."
    • Give students a variety of shapes and have them sort the shapes by attribute or other feature.  
  • Book Link on Amazon:

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Math Picture Books to Love: What's Your Angle Pythagoras?

What's Your Angle Pythagoras? by Julie Ellis

  • Target Skill(s): Pythagorean Theorem 
  • Book Synopsis: Pythagoras was a curious boy who lived long ago in ancient Greece.  Pythagoras was a problem solver and liked to solve the problems of those around him. While traveling with his father, Pythagoras met a man named Nef who told him about a knotted rope he used to make right angles so that his square corners are perfect. After the encounter, Pythagoras made his own special knotted rope and used it to discover the secret of the right triangle. Pythagoras used this knowledge to create squares along the legs of a right triangle. Through his exploration, he discovered that the total number of squares on the two shorter legs equaled the number of squares on the longest leg. Pythagoras tested his hypothesis on various other right triangles and discovered that his hypothesis was indeed correct! 
  • Math Involved: This story analyzes the relationship between the legs on a right triangle and introduces the Pythagorean Theorem.
  • Questions to Ponder:
    • What relationship did Pythagoras discover?
    • What is the Pythagorean Theorem? Give an example.
    • How can we prove the Pythagorean Theorem? 
    • How do you use the Pythagorean Theorem to find sides of right triangles? 
    • Will the Pythagorean Theorem work for any kind of triangle?
    • What is a hypotenuse?
  • Activity Ideas: 
    • Give students a variety of triangles (with whole centimeters sides). Have students measure the sides of each triangle and determine which ones show that the short side squared + the long side squared = the hypotenuse squared. 
    • Practice solving the problems on pages 24 and 29 of the book.
    • Create a model of Pythagoras's discovery. Have students write what they learned at the bottom.
  • Book Link on Amazon:

Math Picture Books to Love: Spaghetti and Meatballs for All

Spaghetti and Meatballs for All! by Marilyn Burns

  • Target Skill(s): Area and Perimeter
  • Book Synopsis: The Comfort family wants to have a family reunion. They plan to invite 32 guests. In order to accommodate all 32 family members, they decide to order 8 four-person tables and 32 chairs. Once the guests begin to arrive, the family members begin to push the tables together so that the family members can sit closer together. However, each time the family changes the table arrangement, Mrs. Comfort objects and says the new arrangement won't work. Finally, after multiple attempts, the Comforts return to Mrs. Comfort's original floor plan. 
  • Math Involved: This story involves finding the combined area and perimeter of table arrangements. 
  • Questions to Ponder: 
    • If Mrs. Comfort ordered enough tables and chairs for all of the family members, why couldn't they all sit at the different table arrangements?
    • Why did Mrs. Comfort object each time the family changed the seating arrangement?
    • What happened each time two tables were pushed together? 
    • How many tables would you have ordered for the family so that everyone could sit together? Explain. 
  • Activity Ideas: 
    • Review the various table arrangements from the story. Make a record of them. Have students find the combined area and perimeter of each arrangement.
    • Provide students with 8 squares. Then, have students create and record a variety of arrangements. Next, have students record the area and perimeter of each arrangement. Finally, have students determine the arrangement with the largest perimeter and the smallest perimeter. 
    •  Have students create a table arrangement diagram (similar to Mrs. Comfort's diagram) to show how many tables would be needed for all of the Comforts to sit together. 
  • Book Link on Amazon:

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Math Picture Books to Love: How Much is a Million?

How Much is a Million? by David Schwartz

  • Target Skill(s): Relative Size of Numbers One Million and Beyod
  • Book Synopsis: This book was written some years ago but is a great way to emphasize the size of large numbers. The author does a solid job of relating the size of a million, a billion, and a trillion in a language that young students understand. For example, the author says, "If you wanted to count from one to one million, it would take about 23 days." He uses the same comparisons for a million, a billion, and a trillion. 
  • Math Involved: This book emphasizes the size of large numbers using pictures and descriptions.
  • Questions to Ponder: 
    • How do you think the author was able to create these statements? Did someone really count to one million? Is there a fish bowl large enough for one million goldfish?
    • Which description helped you understand the size of a million, a billion, or a trillion the most? Why?
  • Activity Ideas: 
    • NCTM Illuminations Activity- How Much is a Million?
    • Have students brainstorm where they might find a million of something. For example, there are a million fish in the sea or a million blades of grass on the lawn. 
    • Have students convert some of the measurements in the book to a different unit. For example, 23 days is 552 hours. 
  • Book Link on Amazon:

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Math Picture Books to Love: If You Hopped Like a Frog

If You Hopped Like a Frog by David Schwartz

  • Target Skill(s): Ratios and Proportions
  • Book Synopsis: This book has a series of statements relating the abilities of an animal to that of a human if we had the same ability (proportionally). For example: 
    • "If you hopped like a frog, you could jump from home plate to first base in one mighty leap!"
    • "If you ate like a shrew, you could devour over 700 hamburgers in a day!"
  • Math Involved: The author uses proportional reasoning to relate animal abilities to what humans could do with the same abilities. 
  • Questions to Ponder:
    • How do you think the author created these statements? Prove how they are possible.
  • Activity Ideas:
  • Book Link on Amazon:

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Math Picture Books to Love: Sir Cumference and the Great Knight of Angleland

Sir Cumference and the Great Knight of Angleland by Cindy Neuschwander
  • Target Skill(s): Identify Acute, Right, Obtuse, and Straight Angles; Measure Angles, Identify Parallel Lines
  • Book Synopsis: Radius, son of Sir Cumference and Lady Di of Ameter, wanted to be a knight. He practiced every day until his teacher said he was ready for his first quest. Radius then set out with a medallion given to him by his parents. While on his quest, Radius stumbled upon an old castle with a note attached to the door. On the note was a riddle with directions to reach a kidnapped King. With his horse, Radius used his medallion (a protractor) to find the correct angles and the right paths to take to find the King. Radius saved the King and received his knighthood. 
  • Math Involved: This books reinforces how to use a protractor to measure angles and emphasizes the use of geometric vocabulary to identify angles (right, acute, obtuse, and straight) and types of lines.
  • Questions to Ponder:
    • What are the four types of angles? Describe each.
    • What are parallel lines? 
    • What tool do we use to measure angles?
    • How do you measure angles?
    • What are degrees?
  • Activity Ideas: 
    • Create a medallion protractor for each student (some of the books include this). Have the students use the medallions to measure various angles. 
    • Have students find and identify examples of angles around the classroom. 
    • Provide students with angles to measure. Have students sort the angles into groups of knightly right, big, straight, and slight angles (like Radius's angles in the story).  
  • Book Link on Amazon:

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Deep in the Heart of Texas Blog Hop

Welcome to the "Deep in the Heart of Texas" blog hop!  Over 40 Texas teacher bloggers have joined together to share what we love about our state as well as ideas and freebies that we love.  You will also have the opportunity to enter to win TpT products and/or TpT gift certificates by entering using the rafflecopters included in each post.  Down at the bottom, you will see all of the blogs participating in the hop.  Just click and you will be taken to their posts.  We hope you love what you find.  Happy Valentine's Day!

I'm a native Texan. I have lived in Texas for my entire life-- and at this time, I never plan to leave! I grew up in Austin but went to K-12 school in Pflugerville ISD. After graduating from high school in 1998, I completed my undergraduate work at Baylor University in Waco. When I finished my Elementary Education teaching credentials at Baylor, I began teaching fourth grade in 2002 in Pflugerville ISD. Oddly enough, I ended up teaching with my fourth grade teacher-- yes, it was very odd. At the same time, I began working on my Masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Texas at Austin. 

In 2007, I began working on my Principal certification credentials at Concordia University in Austin. Upon finishing the program in 2008, I accepted an Assistant Principal position in Leander ISD. During the year, I decided that I really enjoyed the creative aspects of education more than the administrative side, so I returned to the classroom and began to focus on designing curriculum. 

In 2012, I began working on my doctorate degree in Mathematics Education at Baylor University. This path has really given me an in-depth view of the world of math. This journey actually inspired me to begin creating products for teachers and blogging about mathematics teaching and learning. 

While I have taught grades four, five, and seven over the years, I am currently a mentor teacher for first and second year teachers. This new position has given me the opportunity to support the learning of teachers early in their careers and gain knowledge in a variety of new areas, including early grades mathematics. 

I absolutely love living in Austin! The great weather and eclectic feel of the city makes this a very unique place to be-- as confirmed by the many non-natives who move here each year. My favorite things about Austin include the weather, the lakes, the unique variety of cuisine, and the luscious parks and rolling hills of green.

An activity I love is a vocabulary strategy called Swat-It! This has been my class' favorite way to review vocabulary for years! It's a great way to get the students to learn important vocabulary words. It's both engaging and fun and all of the students want to volunteer to be a swatter. 

Check out a sample Swat-it! board below!

Here's how to set it up: 
1. Use an 8.5 inch x 11 inch size paper to program a 3 x 3 unit rectangle with 9 vocabulary words.  
2. Project the rectangle onto your classroom whiteboard so that the students can reach all of the rectangles with a fly-swatter. 
3. Ask for two volunteers to come to the front of the room and stand on the left and right side of the Swat-it! board. 
4. Hand each student a fly-swatter. 
5. Read a definition. 
6. The students use the fly-swatter to swat the word that matches the definition. 
7. The first student to swat the correct word is the winner. 

Variations: Instead of vocabulary words, use numerical answers and read number sentences.

Note: I featured this activity in my "Engaging Mathematics" series last fall. Click the link to check it out!

One of my favorite freebies is my "Math Starters" pack. (Click the link to download the pack.) I shared it as part of my  

"Math with Ms. Routt" series last month (click the link above to view the series). A math starter is a critical thinking activity that incorporates grade level content and skills. This pack includes three critical thinking activities that can be used to engage your students in the first few minutes of your math class. Be sure to check it out. 

You can find other resources and freebies in my "File Cabinet." (Click the link to view.) It's a work in progress, but I am continually working to add new resources. My critical thinking and problem solving freebies have been very popular! Happy Hunting!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Math Picture Books to Love: Multiplying Menace- The Revenge of Rumpelstiltskin

Multiplying Menace- The Revenge of Rumpelstiltskin by Pam Calvert
  • Target Skill(s): Multiplication of Whole Numbers and Fractions
  • Book Synopsis: Peter, son of the King and Queen, is celebrating his tenth birthday when Rumpelstiltskin returns to fulfill the promise made to him by the Queen when he spun her straw into gold. When the Queen refuses, Rumpelstiltskin reeks havoc on the town. All through the town, Rumpelstiltskin points his magic stick at all people and things. Poof! They disappear! After Rumpelstiltskin gives the King six noses, Peter agrees to go with him if Rumpelstiltskin agrees to fix the town. Rumpelstiltskin takes Peter to his home and Peter watches as he uses his magic stick to create more of the things he needs and less of what he doesn't need. While Rumpelstiltskin is sleeping, Peter takes the magic stick and tries to figure out how to use it. Once Peter discovers the secret of the magic stick, he returns to the town to fix Rumpelstiltskin's work. 
  • Math Involved: In the story both Peter and Rumpelstiltskin use the magic stick to multiply whole numbers by whole numbers to obtain a larger amount and whole numbers by fractions to obtain a smaller amount. 
  • Questions to Ponder:
    • What is multiplication?
    • What happens when we multiply by a whole number by a whole number?
    • What happens when we multiply a whole number and a fraction?
    • What happens when we multiply a number times zero?
  • Activity Ideas:
    • Elementary students are used to seeing multiplication as a way to get more of something. Create a T-chart and brainstorm situations from the text when more objects resulted and when less objects resulted. Use the book as a guide. Discuss what kind of numbers Rumpelstiltskin and Peter multiplied by to get more and to get less. 
    • Have students create a chart with an example of multiplication with whole numbers and fractions. (See the chart above.)
    • Use the book to create problems such as, "When Peter wanted to change his dad's face back to one nose instead of six, what did he multiply by?" Have students write and illustrate a number sentence to match the problem. 
  • Book Link on Amazon:

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Math Picture Books to Love: Cut Down to Size at High Noon

Cut Down to Size at High Noon  by Scott Sundby

  • Target Skill(s): Scaling, Scale Factor, Proportions, Enlargements, Reductions
  • Book Synopsis: Louie Cutorze is the only haircutter in the town of Cowlick.His unusual creations are the pride and joy of the  town. Louie uses scale drawings to create a smaller version of a life-size object and then sculpts his artwork onto someone's head. One day, a new hair-cutter, Buzzsaw Bart, rolls into town determined to set-up his own shop. Louie refuses the notion, so Buzzsaw challenged him to a duel. With a large crowded looming, they both snip and cut until they were ready to reveal their creations. Louie scales down a large object and Buzzsaw scales up a small object. After acknowledging each other's talents, the two men combine their artistic talents for a whole new type of haircut.  
  • Math Involved: The hair-cutters in the story use multiplication to "scale  up" small objects and division to "scale down" large objects. The story also includes a detailed example of each hair-cutter's plan.
  • Questions to Ponder: 
    • What method did Louie Cutorze use to create his drawings? 
    • What method did Buzzsaw Bart use to create his drawings?
    • What do call something after it has been "scaled up"?
    • What do we call something after it has been "scaled down"?
    • Louie and Buzzsaw were using ratios to create their haircuts. What do we call two equal ratios?
  • Activity Ideas: 
    • Have students create a diagram of an object using Louie or Buzzsaw's method?
    • Have students create their own method for "scaling up" or "scaling down" an object?
    • Provide students with the actual measurements for an object as well as the new measurements. Have students find the scale factor. 
  • Book Link on Amazon:

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Math Picture Books to Love: The Fly on the Ceiling

The Fly on the Ceiling by Dr. Julie Glass

  • Target Skill(s): Coordinate Graphing in Quadrant I
  • Book Synopsis: Rene' Descartes, a French philosopher and mathematician, struggles to keep his home neat and organized. Consequently, he has trouble locating the things that he needs. While sick in bed, he watches a fly moving to different spots on the ceiling and wonders whether the fly ever lands in the same place twice. He begins to imagine a organized grid system that could help him record the places where the fly lands. After successfully recording the landing spots of the fly, Rene decides that his grid could easily be used to help him keep track of the things in his home. Rene' decides to create a grid on the floor and places objects at different coordinates. He then makes a record of his placements so that he can use his "index" to find what he needs. 
  • Math Involved: This book emphasizes how to plot/ locate points in Quadrant I on the Cartesian coordinate plane. 
  • Questions to Ponder: 
    • What organized system did Rene Descartes create?
    • How can you use his system to locate/ plot points?
    • What is the term for the starting point on the coordinate plane? 
  • Activity Ideas: 
    • Create a human graph in a large open area. Give each student a coordinate and have him/her walk to the location of the coordinate. 
    • Using the human coordinate plane idea above, give each student a starting point and set of directions, such as "Go 5 spaces to the right, or east. Challenge students to land in the correct place. 
    • Create a large coordinate plane for your classroom. Print pictures of toys, school supplies, or other set of objects and post them in various places on the coordinate plane. Have students locate each object and record the location correctly to create an "index."
  • Book Link on Amazon:

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Picture Books to Love: A Remainder of One

A Remainder of One by Elinor J. Pinczes

  • Target Skills: Division of Smaller Numbers, Remainders
  • Book Synopsis: Twenty-five bugs are on a mission to march in a tidy arrangement for the queen. However, every time they try a new arrangement, poor Joe is left out. After several tries, the bugs finally find an arrangement that will successfully include Joe. 
  • Where's the Math?: This book introduces the idea of remainders in a visual way. It allows students to see that remainders are the leftovers that do not fit in the equal groups created by division. This book also explores the idea that while no number is divisible by all numbers, there are those that do work. 
  • Questions to Ponder: 
    • What is a remainder? 
    • How can we look at a division problem and determine if a remainder will result before completing the work? 
    • How can we use arrays to determine if a remainder exists?
  • Activity Ideas: 
    • Have students recreate the arrangements from the book and write a division number sentence for each.
    • Create additional problems using the story structure to practice division with remainders.
    • Develop divisibility rules as appropriate for your grade level. Provide students with a variety of number sentences and have students create arrays in order to determine when the numbers will divide evenly without remainder(s). This array work will lead to generalizations about divisibility. 
    • Practice the process of "checking" division. Determine the number of bugs in each arrangement and add the extras to arrive at the original number of bugs. 
  • Amazon Book Link:

Monday, February 9, 2015

February Series- Math Picture Books to Love!

This month I will be writing a blog series featuring math picture books that I love to use in the classroom. I began collecting picture books in college and have been a collector ever since. Picture books are a great way to engage students and to teach/ reinforce grade level content and skills through literature. Last fall, I wrote a series about "Engaging Mathematics" and included a post about integrating Amy Axelrod's picture books into your everyday mathematics classroom. Read the post here

I have chosen 15 picture books that span a variety of grade levels and skills. Each day, I will share a new book title with the following information: 

  • Target Skill(s)
  • Book Synopsis
  • Math Involved
  • Questions to Ponder
  • Activity Ideas 
  • Book Link on Amazon
There are many math-focused picture books available; however, they are not generally available at your local bookstore. I have been able to find almost all of the books on, so that is a good place to start looking for these fantastic resources. 

I hope you enjoy my "Math Picture Books to Love" series and use these books to add some great math literature to your everyday curriculum!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Math with Ms. Routt- Math Lesson and Assessment/ Journal

The last two components of my math block are the math lesson and lesson assessment. I use the 5-E lesson model to teach new math content. I like the 5-E model because it allows the students to explore and discover the content on their own before I provide additional information and strategies. The 5-E model also allows me to facilitate the lesson through questioning and assess the students' understanding throughout the lesson through my observations. While I regularly plan my lessons using this format, I have found it necessary to adapt the format to fit the needs of my students. With that in mind, I will add that this lesson format may take me more than one day to complete and I sometimes complete several explore and explain cycles before getting to the Elaboration stage. It all depends on the students! I have included the lesson format below along with a description of each of the five Es and activity ideas that can be used to address each component. 

As for the last component of my math block, the lesson assessment, I use a variety of tools. The most effective tool I have used over the years is the math journal. Math journals are a great assessment tool for evaluating your students’ understanding of a specific skill or concept. They also strengthen your students’ writing and communication skills within the context of a mathematical situation or problem. Want to know more? I wrote about using journals in the classroom in my "Engaging Mathematics" series last fall. Click here to read the post.

Click here to view this pack at my Teachers Pay Teachers store.