Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Fairy Tales in the Classroom Week: Mathematics

I'm just old enough that as a student I missed most of the newer trends in education in which lessons cross disciplines, attempting to better teach real world applications, especially in math and science. I learned some of the teaching techniques and concepts as I dabbled in education classes in college, but I am not an expert in this area.

As some of you may know, I started out as a physics major and have always had an affinity for math and science although my career path ultimately veered away from those fields. Consequently, better teaching of math and science in the classroom is dear to my heart. I struggled with having very few good teachers in those fields--my father supplemented most of my learning in those areas at home where my interests were nurtured more than they were frustrated in the formal school classrooms I attended. I've often wondered how many students with natural inclinations in these fields are frustrated or lost due to poor classroom situations. There are great teachers out there in these fields, but not enough, many victims of their own early childhood experiences, I suspect.

Needless to say, I'm thrilled that some teaching units are incorporating fairy tales and folklore into teaching elementary school math and science. What a fun way to make it interesting all around for the math inclined and those who aren't as much. I have collected titled over the years--even if I don't own all these books myself. I'm finally sharing them here today. Some are more formal teaching books with lesson planning ideas and worksheets. Others are picture books presenting concepts.

Funny Fairy Tale Math has a sample chapter online here.

I also went browsing the web for more fairy tales and math teaching ideas. This page at PreKinders has several math applications that are useful for various ages, such as:

Fairy Tale Graph
Each child writes their name on an index card, chooses a favorite fairy tale, and places their card on the pocket chart graph. We count and compare the results: what has the most/least/same? I pick about 5 fairy tales for the children to choose from and place pictures of those fairy tales at the top of the pocket chart.

I also discovered Brainy Day which has ten books incorporating math concepts into fairy tales. Here's the description for Making 10: Stage 2, only one of their nine books:

The Big Bad Wolf helps Hoodie discover patterns on graphs when making sums of 10. But something in Grandma's house doesn't add up! Grades: 4-10. Classroom tested: Grades 4, 5, 7, 8.

Math insights: Students are surprised by the patterns that emerge when plotting pairs of missing numbers from equations like __ + __ = 10; how can we change the missing number equations so that the points line up in a different direction, or curve?

Grade-specific activities: In grades 4-8: Students solve missing number equations like __ + __ = 10. They roll a die to get the first number and calculate the value of the second number; t hey represent the pairs of missing numbers as ordered pairs and plot them on a grid. They notice patterns (the points form a line); they compare graphical representations of __ + __ = 10 with those of missing number sentences with different sums (like __ + __ = 8 and __ + __ = 6); they explore how we might change the missing number equations so that the points line up in a different direction, or curve? In grades 9-10: The above serves as introduction to linear and non-linear functions.

I'm sure there's much more out there, but my purpose was to provide an overview and hopefully some inspiration. For anyone working or living with children, finding ways to incorporate math into every day activities can be a challenge and a joy.

Finally, I have two lists of education related books, many of which will get further discussion this week, on Amazon at Fairy Tales in the Classroom and Fairy Tales in the Classroom: Math Applications. The latter lists all the books that appear in this post for easier referencing.

Except for the Amazon links in this post, SurLaLune is not affiliated with any other source and provides links for informational purposes.

1 comment:

  1. I have always had a fondness for fairy tales and how the morals impact childhood development. As an emerging secondary ed mathematics teacher, I find myself often thinking about if there was even a way I could possibly implement fairy tales in a meaningful way in the high school.
    Lessons and morals learned in classic fairy tales hone in on a single message to the reader that many times will last a lifetime. Just imagine that kind of impact from a great math lesson! I'm really glad a blog like this exists. Really good work!!