It’s a glorious summer’s day and Teddy and Mabel really want to be outside playing, but instead they are stuck inside helping their mum clean the house. Despite the fact they helped make the mess, like all kids, they are whingeing about having to help when the outdoors beckons.
So their mum agrees that they can go outside WHEN they have found the sum of all the numbers from one to 100. (And, being a smart mum she has removed the batteries from the calculator much to the children’s chagrin.) And so begins a challenge that could be replicated in any family or classroom as the children are challenged to think beyond the obvious way to do things. Can they find the solution before it is too dark to play?
This could be an excellent starting point for getting students to think creatively, particularly in looking for patterns in and between numbers and having them explain their reasoning. How many times did kids come up with something I wasn’t expecting, but their logic was sound? Or flawed so they had to retrace their steps?) For those who like this sort of thing, it could be the springboard for getting them to investigate established patterns like Fibonacci or even inventing their own patterns like next-in-the-sequence for their peers to solve.
Looking for sequences and patterns is not an end in itself though, because it can be a really useful skill when analysing data and findings in research – a critical part of the information literacy process. In fact, the information literacy process can be applied to almost any mathematical problem starting with “What do I know? What do I need to find out? Where can I find that information? … So what began as the familiar grumps of kids being asked to help around the house can actually become something so much more.
Everywhere in her everyday world, Maddie finds mathematics. Whether it’s seeing the parallel lines of sunshine pouring through her bedroom blinds in to morning, counting daisy petals in the garden, or finding the patterns in the pathway, she adores maths. But among her friends, it would seem she was alone – when her friends came to play they found fascination in other things like decorating the cupcakes rather than measuring and making them. Her preoccupation impinges on her relationships with her classmates, making her feel out of kilter with them, as though she were some kind of weird and she doesn’t even notice that there might be others with a similar fascination, until…
This is an absolutely intriguing story with lots of layers that will resonate with so many readers, not just discovering the ubiquity of maths in our lives, and maybe building a maths trail around the school. While the author has chosen to make maths the focus of Maddie’s passion, there are bigger issues that can be explored through the story such as celebrating a love of learning; making and maintaining friendships; finding and following your passion and owning it or, conversely, feeling separated from our friends because they don’t love something as we do; even exploring whether friends can like and do different things and still be friends.
Having gone from someone who saved the Year 6 final excursion by being the only person to get 100% in the end-of-year maths exam, to be completely bewildered by the complexities of algebra and trigonometry at high school and getting a bare minimum pass in the School Certificate exam, to becoming a maths consultant and writing a number of teacher resource books on integrating it across the curriculum, I can relate very closely to Maddie as she finds the maths in everything fascinating and understands why it is referred to as the “Queen of Sciences”. So while I could write a book or several (actually have) about how the maths in this story could be the springboard to the year’s curriculum, starting with the endpapers, it also opens the opportunity for readers to share their passions and what is involved in achieving their big dreams. And that could lead to investigating how their heroes achieved their dreams, or building Genius Hour into the timetable, or…
But for all the Maddies who love maths, perhaps they could ponder this… if Maddie can figure out a way to count the daisy petals in the garden, how could she count the stars?
What happens around in the world in twenty-four hours? This is another amazing book of infographics from author-illustrator Steve Jenkins as he shares lots of amazing facts and figures, summarised in pictures, charts and graphs in this new book perfect for curious kids.
Some of you may have seen the photos I shared of an intrigued young friend who started reading at 3.30pm and was still going at 7.30pm when I gave him 100 Things to Know About the Unknown recently, and this is definitely another one that will keep him entranced, as it will all our other young readers who have a penchant for non fiction and being enticed down rabbit holes as they strive to find out more about what has captured them.
The perfect evidence for why we need a vibrant non fiction collection.
In this latest addition to the By the Numbersseries, readers can explore what happens around the world with humans, animals, and even microorganisms in just twenty-four hours. From how much humans eat and how far migrating animals travel in day to how often lightning strikes. readers travel beyond the clock and into what twenty-four hours looks like on a massive scale. As Europe’s wildfires make headline news, we can learn that not only are these fires growing more frequent and more intense, but the equivalent of 125 000 soccer fields is burned by them every day!! And, at the other end of the scale, 16 000 Olympic swimming pools could be filled by the ice melting from glaciers and the Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets every day.
As well as being a model for the presentation of information that students could emulate, this is such an intriguing series it will keep the Xanders of this world engaged for hours, providing even more evidence of the importance of having a vibrant, current and promoted non fiction print collection. Who knows what might catch their eye and capture their curiosity?