K is for Kindergartner & Königsberg

My daughter keeps asking me to put a picture of her on my blog. So here she is in her favorite Princess awesome \pi dress.

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Siena, in front of our old Chicago condo the day we made the move to the burbs

She starts kindergarten in one week. Recently at orientation, a teacher mentioned Letter of the week. I grinned recalling our Letter of the week experiences with my now seven year old son Liam. If you’re not familiar, Letter of the week is a common theme in kindergarten classrooms (and sometimes preschool) where a chosen letter takes center stage.  The week is usually full of crafts and activities starting with that letter.

When Liam was in kindergarten (at a different school), each Friday he needed to bring an item for show-and-tell that began with the letter of the week.  Recalling our frantic Friday morning show-and-tell searches was what made me grin at orientation. It was a bit like in this video from comedian Michael Mcintyre (make sure your children leave the room before watching the video). And just as we were about to open the door to leave, I’d spot the letter of the week calendar. Liam and I would race into his room or the kitchen in search of something. Since we were often running late, if nothing immediately came into view, I’d tell him to find a Pokémon card with a character name  starting with that letter. He brought quite a few Pokémon cards for show-and-tell that year.

After orientation, I emailed the teacher and found out that Siena’s kindergarten class doesn’t have a show-and-tell component to their Letter of the week. Phew, I’m off the hook for figuring that out. But I still wanted a simple way to support her literacy and connect to her classroom experiences.  So I decided this year I would read a page each week from a couple alphabet picture books (similar to Esther Hershenhorn’s S is for story: A Writer’s Alphabet)  with Siena as a way to share in her letter of the week learning. And guess what? There’s a magical math book for that too!

 The Book

G is for Googol was written by David M. Schwartz and illustrated by Marissa Moss. It was published by Tricycle Press (a division of Random House) in 1998.

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Schwartz has written over 50 books for children and it’s likely he will end up on this blog again before this year is over. I actually had his book How much is a Million? slated for a spot on the blog soon, but after kindergarten orientation I knew I needed to post G is for Googol first.

G is for Googol offers simply-stated explanations and amusing trivia for each of the 26 letter of the alphabet. Plus a few bonus pages for repeated letters (e.g., G is for Googol and Googolplex).

Moss’s quirky illustrations are so much fun! And her captions add information and interest to the text. Love them! And my kids do too.

The suggested age listed on Amazon is 8-12 years old. However, I’m diving in with my kindergartner.  I’ll let you know how it goes at the end of the year. But I’m not worried, as you’ll see in the table of contents listed below that there are a number of topics which are often part of the kindergarten curriculum.

The Math

There is a little bit about lots of different mathematical ideas in this book. And while the title of the book says it’s a math alphabet book, there’s a bit of science mixed in too. Here are the table of contents to give you a better idea of what topics are included

Contents

A is for Abacus . . . 5
B is for Binary . . . 6
C is for Cubit . . . 8
D is for Diamond . . . 10
E is for Equilateral . . . 11
E is also for Exponent . . . 12
F is for Fibonacci . . . 14
G is for Googol . . . 16
G is also for Googolplex . . . 17
H is for Hundred . . . 18
I is for “If” . . . 19
J is for Jupiter . . . 20
K is for Königsberg . . . 22
L is for Light-Year . . . 24
M is for Möbius Strip . . . 26
N is for Nature . . . 28
O is for Obtuse . . . 30
P is for Probability . . . 32
Q is for Quantity–and Quality . . . 36
R is for Rhombicosidodecahedron . . . 37
S is for Symmetry . . . 39
T is for Tessellate . . . 41
U is for Unit . . . 43
V is for Venn Diagram . . . 44
W is for “When are we ever gonna use this stuff, anyway?” . . . 48
X is for x . . . 50
Y is for y-axis . . . 52
Z is for Zillion . . . 54
Glossary . . . 55

As you can see, there’s some geometry, some number, a bit about mathematical tools, representations, problems, and history, and there’s a double dose of probability (you’ll see what I mean when you read the book). If you don’t quite understand the math explained for one letter, there are 25 more letters to explore.  The explanations offer a nice introduction to the topic and are meant to inspire children (and any reader really) to wonder about these ideas.

By the way, if you were wondering what the Königsberg in the title of this blog post was and you can’t wait to check it out in this book, you can go here.

The Magic

Let me start by saying that I WISH I WROTE THIS BOOK! Schwartz and Moss must have had a blast deciding what each letter would be and how to portray the math in pictures. Which makes me think, why not create your own math alphabet book? And so, I’m adding that to my “math projects to try with my kids/students” file. [By the way, if you have older students/kids, you might show them some of Vi Harts videos like Binary trees, Pythagoras, or Hexaflexgons for inspiration.]

My son Liam and I had a nice chat about abacuses (or abaci) using the letter A page. I showed him a soroban I received as a gift from my good friend and former colleague Dr. Kathleen Pitvorec. He really got into figuring out how to represent numbers on it.

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Siena and I have glanced through the pictures of this book together, however we are waiting to start on the letter M page next week as that’s her first letter of the week for kindergarten.  Looks like we will be making some mobius strips very soon!

Do you have a kindergartner that is doing Letter of the Week or simply want to join in the math alphabet fun! 

I would love to create a math alphabet slideshow of ideas, questions, explorations, discoveries, and art projects that come up along the way as we read  G is for Googol. Siena and I will be recording these things, however my hope is that others will join us too.

So if you are a parent or teacher of a kindergartner and want to read G is for Googol along with us, we’d love to hear about your ideas, questions, explorations, discoveries and art projects. Share as little or as much as you want and you can start anytime, at any letter, from now until the end of June!

If you want to join us, please send me any ideas, questions, explorations, discoveries, and art projects you and your kindergartener(s) share along the way to mathbookmagic@gmail.com. Pictures are welcomed! However, no photos that show a child’s face, unless a parent is sending it and thus gives their permission for it to be posted on a slideshow on my blog. Email me with any questions. And happy ABCing and 123ing!

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Have a magical math book you’d like share? Please go to the Shared booklist to find out how.  If you’d like to receive these magical math book posts each Monday, be sure to follow this blog in the side bar of this page.

Thanks and see you next Monday! #mathbookmagic

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