We use and are very happy with Right Start Math as our primary math curriculum. We also use Math Mammoth as a supplement. I love Right Start for its conceptual and very hands-on approach, but the downside is that it is almost entirely teacher-dependent. Math Mammoth is also conceptual, but Lulu can work through the problems in her worktext with much less assistance from me. Usually she and I will work through her Right Start lesson, and then she will work on Math Mammoth while Louise and I work on her Right Start lesson. Or something like that. (Those of you who homeschool with a baby or toddler know what I mean.) 🙂 Sometimes, though, I really get the itch to do something entirely out of the box (or the math curriculum), and while I actually have a shelf full of math-related picture books, I don’t pull them off the shelf often enough and actually implement any activities to go along with them. However, when I read this post at I Capture the Rowhouse, I was inspired because Lulu was actually studying graphing in Math Mammoth at the time! I trotted off to the library that held that book as soon as I could, and lo and behold, I found a few more books by Loreen Leedy that would also go along perfectly with what Lulu would be studying soon.
The Great Graph Contest by Loreen Leedy is one of those books that I love to share but that I hate to read aloud. Similar to so many science picture books, this book is full of both straightforward text and speech balloons in which the characters hold conversations with each other. Arrrrrrrgh! I never know exactly how to approach these books, especially when the speech balloons are somewhat necessary to actually “get” the story. Still, this is a fantastic addition to a study of graphs and graphing, and the real strength of the book is that it makes graphing something that even young students can do for themselves. The plot of the book revolves around a lizard and a frog who have a contest to see who can make the best graphs. They try all kinds of graphs, and of course, they wind up in a tie. I like that the elements of the graph are emphasized (i.e. labeling, the different axes, the importance of neatness, etc.) The girls really got involved in the storyline, and they especially enjoyed it when we made our own Venn diagram after categorizing and counting some of their animals and dolls, just like in the book. I give this book a Highly Recommended, especially for students who can read it for themselves.
Knowing that Lulu would soon be doing a few lessons on measuring in Right Start, I also picked up Measuring Penny. This one was so much fun for the girls! It’s all about a little girl who is assigned the task of measuring something using nontraditional methods and units for measuring. Of course, she chooses her dog Penny and other dogs they encounter as her subjects, and she measures them in all sorts of ways. I think this book really drives home the idea that we can use all sorts of objects to measure things, even if we don’t have a ruler or tape measure. Pretty neat, huh?
Loreen Leedy has lots and lots of educational picture books to her credit, as well as an interesting blog to keep her readers apprised of the latest happenings.
To finish up this “extracurricular” look at measurement, I picked up a chunky board book entitled How Big Is the Lion by William Accorsi on one of our library trips. This is a new-ish book, just published in 2010. The real draw of this one, I think, is the fact that it comes with its own little wooden ruler attached. The text of the book is simply rhyming couplets that ask the reader to measure aniamls on the facing pages. Each one of the animals, which are done in what looks like felt collage, has a straight line drawn the length of its body so that the reader has a specific place to measure. This book is a great introduction to using a ruler, and because the ruler has both metric and American units, we had an opportunity to talk about and look at the difference between a centimeter and an inch. Yes, it’s entirely possible to do all this on your own, but having a cute little book like this (with a neat pocket for the ruler) makes it much more fun.