What is living math? Is it eaching math through real life scenarios? Or is it using a well-written
book, what Charlotte Mason homeschoolers call a “living book,” to introduce or reinforce the concept? Whatever
the definition, living math doesn’t happen often at our house. But when I find
a good living math book, I run with it.
Two such books are Spaghetti and Meatballs for All by Marilyn Burns and
Alexander, Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday
by Judith Viorst.
Spaghetti and Meatballs for All
This book has been a favorite read-aloud
for years, but I’ve always had it in the
back of my mind to use for a living math
lesson when the time came. The time
came this year, when I decided to devote
Fridays to studying measurement concepts, including perimeter and area.
For those of you unfamiliar with the
book, here’s the story in a nutshell: Mr.
and Mrs. Comfort invite thirty family members and friends to a party. Mrs.
Comfort’s table arrangement is eight
single tables, seating four people each.
As the guests arrive in batches, they begin rearranging the seating, which drives
Mrs. Comfort crazy, until finally the
chairs are back the way Mrs. Comfort
Suggestions for teaching perimeter
Spaghetti with Alexander:
and area at the back of the book have the
students using paper squares to simulate
the tables. But why cut out paper squares
when my son has the perfect manipula-
tive in his room? Enter LEGO® bricks! I
also got two sheets of 10x14 graph pa-
per (downloaded from donnayoung.
org) and a pen. My son decided to bring
by Karen Robuck
Two Picture Books for Teaching Math
Grab your LEGO® bricks and your loose change
and give one or both of these books a try!