How’s everyone doing with blended learning, in-person learning, or remote learning? Third grade math has been interesting to revisit, to say the least, so I decided it was time to enjoy some picture book math: let the games begin.
If you haven’t discovered the Sir Cumference series of books, you are missing out. I was introduced to them a few years ago, as a new librarian working with a student educator on a STEM/Discovery Club in our library. There are now 11 books and a book of classroom activities in the series, which follows a knight named Sir Cumference and the people he encounters, all named after math concepts. Each adventure takes on a new math problem, and the adventures use storytelling and mathematics to teach concepts like radius and diameter, area and perimeter, decimals, and more.
In this latest Sir Cumference adventure, Pia of Chartres, the best baker in Camelot, has been kidnapped by ogres! But they’re only borrowing her because they need her help: they are holding their annual feast and want her to make her famous Crème de la Crumb for the event. When Sir Cumference and the rest of the rescue party arrive on the scene and realize that Pia is in no danger, they all set to work baking and devising a way to make sure there’s enough food for everyone: ogres and surprise guests alike! The story introduces the decimal system in a way that blends easily into a story about baking and portions (for younger readers, think of Pat Hutchins’s The Doorbell Rang) as it explains tenths, hundreths, and thousandths. The warm, colorful artwork will draw readers right into its medieval fantasy world. Get the set and leave lots of scrap paper around; invite your littles into the kitchen with you and let them figure out portions of brownies and cakes as you bake!
Thomas Jefferson was a big fan of numbers; he measured, counted, and journaled things he was interested in, like how much it cost to see a monkey (11 pence) or how long it took to grow a pea (85 days). When he caught wind that a famous French naturalist, the Count de Buffon, published a book saying that America was a “miserable, cold, damp place where nothing good could grow”, he had to answer back. Not only were Buffon’s observations mean, they were wrong. He’d never seen the animals in America, let alone weighed them, measured them, or listened to them! He sent a book of his numbers to Buffon, but the Frenchman would not be swayed. So Jefferson called on his friend, James Madison, to help: he needed to get hold of a moose. A humorous look at a moment in math, U.S., and natural history, Jefferson Measures a Moose is about a former President’s mania for math and the truth. Back matter includes more information on Jefferson’s passion for numbers, and primary and secondary sources. Colorful ink and watercolor illustrations bring humor and history to the story. This is a fun choice for a readaloud to a STEM or Discovery Club project on weighing and measuring. Publisher Candlewick has a free Teacher Tips sheet available.
Want more math fun for kids? AMP has math, science, and other lesson plans incorporating their 8-Bit Warrior series.