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Find more Classroom Connections: Math and The Common Core
The Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM), published in 2010, was developed in large part to clarify the school mathematics that U.S. students in kindergarten through grade 12 should be expected to learn to prepare them for college and careers. Before the development of the Common Core, the mathematics taught at a given grade level varied considerably from state to state and, in some instances, from district to district within a state. Of even more concern than the variability was the breadth of the curriculum, often at the expense of depth. Frequently described as being “a mile wide and an inch deep,” mathematics curricula often provided little opportunity for students to develop deep and connected understanding. Often, too many topics were covered, soon to be forgotten, and only surface-level understanding was expected and assessed.
The Common Core builds upon several foundational documents, including Principles and Standards for School Mathematics, published by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) in 2000; Curriculum Focal Points, published by NCTM in 2006; and Adding It Up: Helping Children Learn Mathematics, the National Research Council report of 2001. The Common Core does not prescribe either methods or curriculum. Instead, it sets standards for both content and student mathematical practices, which, if implemented, offer the promise that U.S. students’ learning will become deeper, more connected, and more lasting than in the past.
Issues of concern surround the Common Core, including the process of its development; the content taught at various grade levels; its emphasis on, and uses of, assessment; and political and constitutional questions about its adoption. Nevertheless, at the time of this writing, 43 states, the District of Columbia, 4 territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity have adopted the CCSSM, with varying timetables for implementation.
The Common Core identifies eight “Standards for Mathematical Practice,” which describe mathematical processes, or practices—e.g., problem solving and reasoning—that students at all grade levels are expected to develop and use. The content standards at each grade level are organized into clusters, or broad mathematical goals, and clusters are grouped into content domains, e.g., “Number and Operations in Base Ten.” Six domains are addressed at the K to grade-five level. Each grade level addresses four or five of these domains, with domains typically spanning several grade levels.
Children’s Books and Mathematical Learning
Trade books can afford children meaningful opportunities to see mathematics in multiple contexts, including the world outside of the classroom, and to make connections with ideas and their own experiences. Moreover, teachers and librarians can utilize the best of children’s trade books in three different roles: to provide a context for problem solving by engaging students in mathematical thinking; to model problem solving and reasoning processes; and to provide direct sources for mathematical investigations. Trade books can also provide students with opportunities for developing and refining procedural skills and for seeing a variety of contexts and applications for these skills.
Below, we provide a thematic bibliography of recently published children’s trade books. Please note that many of these books could be placed in more than one category or domain, and many can be used to address the standards across more than one grade level.
Counting and Ordinality
1 Cookie, 2 Chairs, 3 Pears: Numbers Everywhere. By Jane Brocket. 2013. 32p. illus. Millbrook, lib. ed., $26.60 (9781467702324); e-book, $19.95 (9781467717021). 513.2. PreS–Gr. 2.
The latest of Brocket’s Clever Concepts series offers considerably more than counting practice. With big, bright close-up photos of arranged fruits, flowers, numbers, buttons, cookies, and other items both common and unique, the book not only leads viewers from 1 to 20, with occasional pauses to tally, but also demonstrates addition and subtraction; work with sets; the notion of fractions; and other math concepts. Each spread offers multiple opportunities for discussion as well as eye and brain work.
Albert the Muffin-Maker. By Eleanor May. Illus. by Deborah Melmon. 2014. 32p. Kane, paper, $7.95 (9781575656328); lib. ed., $22.60 (9781575656311); e-book, $7.95 (9781575656335). PreS–Gr. 2.
Like the other picture books in the Mouse Math series, this one, about baking, has a purpose. Both the text and illustrations incorporate ordinal numbers. As each ingredient is mentioned, a picture of it appears with the others along the bottom of each double-page spread: a bag of flour above the word first, a jar of oatmeal above the word second, and so on. A light, amusing introduction to the concepts.
Annika Riz, Math Whiz. By Claudia Mills. Illus. by Rob Shepperson. 2014. 128p. Farrar/Margaret Ferguson, $15.99 (9780374303358); e-book, $9.99 (9780374303365). Gr. 2–4.
Annika loves math, and in this delightful second outing of the Franklin School Friends, she tries to get her friends to see why it is so darn interesting. The practical application of math runs through the story as the girls prepare for the school carnival, measuring cookie ingredients and calculating costs for lemonade. A sudoku contest offers more play with numbers.
Count the Monkeys. By Mac Barnett. Illus. by Kevin Cornell. 2013. 32p. Disney/Hyperion, $16.99 (9781423160656). PreS–Gr. 2.
This fun counting book encourages students’ physical participation with suggestions for how to ward off creatures that may be scaring the monkeys featured on the pages. The illustrations add greatly to the humor that will make this book popular.
Dinosaur Countdown. By Nicholas Oldland. Illus. by the author. 2012. 24p. Kids Can, $15.95 (9781554538348). PreS–K.
Oldland uses both clever language and wild, polka-dotted and striped patterns to introduce scientific concepts about dinosaurs while teaching how to count backwards from ten to zero. Librarians and teachers will appreciate the pronunciation guide appended to the back of the book.
Lifetime: The Amazing Numbers in Animal Lives. By Lola M. Schaefer. Illus. by Christopher Silas Neal. 2013. 40p. Chronicle, $17.99 (9781452107141). 591.56. PreS–Gr. 2.
Schaefer combines her interest in animals and her fascination with numbers, using sparse text to introduce both the creatures and a numerical fact about a specific characteristic of each animal. This handsomely illustrated, inventive title fills a niche for both animal science and mathematics.
One Gorilla: A Counting Book. By Anthony Browne. Illus. by the author. 2013. 32p. Candlewick, $16.99 (9780763663520). PreS–Gr. 1.
This striking, mixed-media counting book features a variety of primates and, in the end, makes the connection to humans. The arresting illustrations emphasize the individuality of the primates through their eyes and other unique features in their appearance.
Two. By Kathryn Otoshi. Illus. by the author. 2014. 40p. KO Kids, $18.95 (9780972394666). PreS–Gr. 1.
In this companion to One (2008), and Zero (2010), Otoshi offers a story with a dual purpose: a way for children to make sense of the ebb and flow of friendships, as well as a simple introduction to the concept of even and odd numbers.
Number and Operations in Base Ten
Help Me Learn Subtraction. By Jean Marzollo. Illus. by Chad Phillips. 2012. 32p. Holiday, $15.95 (9780823424016); paper, $6.99 (9780823428229). 513.2. K–Gr. 1.
Marzollo guides young children through the basics of subtraction using rhyming text to provide them with answer clues. Photographs add additional guidance to further support children’s understanding of the problems.
How Many Jelly Beans? A Giant Book of Giant Numbers! By Andrea Menotti. Illus. by Yancey Labat. 2012. 28p. Chronicle, $18.99 (9781452102061); e-book, $13.99 (9781452113074). 513.2. K–Gr. 2
When Emma and her brother Aiden decide to have a jelly bean-collecting contest, Emma quickly realizes that a 1000 jelly beans is not that many when distributed over an entire year. The children quickly explore larger and larger numbers. Labat uses spare images to illustrate what 100; 1000; 100,000; and 1,000,000 jellybeans would look like when grouped together.
Mice Mischief: Math Facts in Action. By Caroline Stills. Illus. by Judith Rossell. 2014. 24p. Holiday, $16.95 (9780823429479). 516.2.
This playful introduction to counting, sorting, and sets is a winning combination of basic mathematics and high spirits. On a series of lively spreads, 10 little mice cavort through their household chores, with a decreasing number of mice actually working and an increasing number goofing off. Mixed-media illustrations offer plenty of amusing details for kids to discover on their own.
Millions, Billions, and Trillions: Understanding Big Numbers. By David A. Adler. Illus. by Edward Miller. 2013. 32p. Holiday, $17.95 (9780823424030); paper, $7.99 (9780823430499). 513. K–Gr. 3.
Adler presents a clear explanation of the concept of a million using things that children know and understand. For instance, a quarter cup of sugar is close to a million grains of sugar. Miller’s playful digital illustrations greatly enhance the interesting text.
The Wing Wing Brothers Carnival de Math. By Ethan Long. Illus. by the author. 2013. 32p. Holiday, $15.95 (9780823426041); paper, $6.99 (9780823430628). 513.2. PreS–Gr. 2.
The lovable Wing Wing Brothers (Willy, Woody, Wilmer, Wendell, and Walter) are back and enjoying a carnival. This series entry contains three chapters or sketches with each celebrating a different mathematics concept—counting to 100 by tens, addition and subtraction by 10 up to 100, and adding within 100, including two digit-numbers and one-digit numbers. Follow this with The Wing Wing Brothers Geometry Palooza! (2014).
Measurement and Data
Not Measurement. By Sara Pistoia. 2013. 24p. illus. Child’s World, lib. ed., $25.64 (9781623235314); e-book, $17.99 (9781623237059). 516. PreS–Gr. 1.
Titles in the Simply Math series offer real-world introductions to basic math concepts suited for the youngest children, and bright photos illustrate the concept of each book clearly. This volume shows how to use common household objects, such as a ruler, a tape measure, a measuring cup, a scale, and a measuring spoon to explore different types and units of measurement. Colorful examples make this accessible to even very young learners.
Perimeter, Area, and Volume: A Monster Book of Dimensions. By David A. Adler. Illus. by Edward Miller. 2012. 32p. Holiday, $17.95 (9780823422906); paper, $7.99 (9780823427635). 516. Gr. 2–4.
Readers are transported to a theater where they will learn to measure dimensions. They first learn to measure a monster’s dimensions (height, width, and depth) and eventually move to calculating the perimeter of the set, the area of the movie screen, and finally the volume of the popcorn box.
Statistics and Probability
That’s a Possibility! A Book about What Might Happen. By Bruce Goldstone. Illus. by the author. 2013. 32p. Holt, $16.99 (9780805089981); e-book, $9.99 (9781466844537). 519.2. Gr. 1–4.
Goldstone introduces readers to probability by teaching them about what is possible, impossible, likely, and probable in a very approachable and engaging manner.
Time and Money
Curious George Saves His Pennies. By Monica Perez. Illus. by Mary O’Keefe Young. 2013. 32p. Houghton, $12.99 (9780547632315); paper, $4.99 (9780547818535); e-book, $3.99 (9780547935768). PreS–Gr. 2.
George saves his money to buy a new train car, and when his bank is full, he sets off for the toy store. He loses his bank, finds a friend, and learns to share. This book helps young readers learn to count and add money.
A Dollar, a Penny, How Much and How Many? By Brian P. Cleary. Illus. by Brian Gable. 2012. 32p. Millbrook, paper, $6.95 (9781467726290); lib. ed., $16.95 (9780822578826). 332.4. K–Gr. 3.
Cleary’s clever rhyming text combined with Gable’s humorous illustrations add up to a fun introduction to American coins and bills. The delightful read-aloud from the Math Is Categorical series demonstrates ways of making change with kid-friendly purchases from pizza to pogo sticks.
Lemonade in Winter: A Book about Two Kids Counting Money. By Emily Jenkins. Illus. by G. Brian Karas. 2012. 40p. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $16.99 (9780375858833); lib. ed., $18.99 (9780375958830); e-book, $10.99 (9780375987731). PreS–Gr. 3.
Pauline and John-John learn about counting coins after they decide to have a Lemonade Stand in the middle of winter. They learn about profits and losses as well as counting money before the satisfying ending.
Edgar Allan Poe’s Pie: Math Puzzlers in Classic Poems. By J. Patrick Lewis. Illus. by Michael H. Slack. 2012. 40p. Houghton, $16.99 (9780547513386); paper, $6.99 (9780544456129); e-book, $16.99 (9780547822587). 811. Gr. 3–5.
Lewis combines poetry and mathematics in 14 poems based on classic poems written by the likes of Edgar Allan Poe, Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Ogden Nash, Langston Hughes, William Carlos Williams, and Shel Silverstein. Each humorous parody presents a math riddle for kids to solve. Back matter includes biographical information about the famous poets whose work is highlighted in the book.
Running Scared. By Beverley Terrell-Deutsch. 2014. 176p. Red Deer, paper, $12.95 (9780889955035). Gr. 4–6.
Grieving his recently deceased father, sixth-grader Gregory withdraws, only able to find comfort in math and the reliability of numbers. Gregory’s anger, anguish, and determination to overcome his fears may provide readers with comfort, and many students will see themselves in Gregory’s passion for math.
We’ve Got Your Number. By Mukul Patel. Illus. by Supriya Sahai. 2013. 96p. Kingfisher, $14.99 (9780753470725). 500. Gr. 5–8.
Patel leads middle-grade students on investigations in all aspects of mathematics and numbers. Each chapter provides profiles of great mathematicians, fun number facts, number games and activities, and real-life mathematical challenges.
Eula Ewing Monroe and Terry Young are professors in the Department of Teacher Education at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Monroe teaches courses in mathematics education, and Young teaches courses in children’s literature.
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