Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Penny for your (mathematical) thoughts

Breaking news:  MT student just reported great success using children’s picture book in a grade 5 math class about decimals!

Pennies for Elephants by Lita Judge (823 J894P PIC BK) was read out loud to the class to set up the unit.  After the initial surprise of the grade 5 students passed, the class was gripped.

The  book is based on the true story of Bostonian children in 1914 raising more than $6000 to purchase three elephants for the Franklin Park Zoo.  This  campaign inspired over 50,000 kids to work together all in the name of a good cause.  The story includes some ‘clippings’ from the newspapers of the day listing every single donation (even as small as .01) with a running total.

This math unit entailed adding the individual donations collected and recorded in the daily newspapers which became a game between classmates, to see who could get the most right.  Information was recorded on number lines demonstrating order and size of numbers.  By the end the kids had a much better understanding of the differences between decimals and whole numbers.

A short and emotionally engaging story, connecting math to the real world that makes an impression with both 10 year-olds and teachers is worth checking out .

Update: May 14, 2010 - Check out the following blog at Open Wide, Look Inside for more teaching ideas focused on economics for this title. 


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