It’s overwhelming to think about adding one more thing to parent’s/teacher’s never-ending to-do-lists. And so this week’s post is about a multipurpose book where children can *talk math*, practice *reading* (especially K-1 children), and *play* a stacking game.

**The Book**

*Stack the Cats* was written and illustrated by Susie Ghahremani and published by Abrams Appleseed in 2017.

Ghahremini’s crisply illustrated cats pop against mint-green and orange backgrounds. *One cat sleeps. Two cats play. Three cats stack! *Cats of all shapes and sizes play, climb and of course stack, across the pages of this counting book. The question at the end of the book, *How will you stack the cats?, * encourages children to pull out their stuffed animals (or whatever) and stack some “cats.”

From the moment my kindergartner picked up this book, she was eager to read it. The simple text and supporting pictures make it the perfect read-aloud for young children.

**The Math**

In Stack* the Cats, *children can both count stacks of cats and add stacks of cats. Here are the two explicitly stated examples of addition situations (or multiplication situations if you wish) in the book:

Six cats prefer two stacks of three cats.” (3+3=6)

Nine agree to three, three and three.” (3+3+3=9)

**The Magic**

Children (and adults) love to stack things! Here are a few videos I found on the Recordsetter.com website.

- A group of boys in India stack Fidget spinners. I love the motivation, collaboration, and joy captured in this video;
- A teen stacks water bottles; and
- A father stacks dice on a CD with his young child watching. I love the wonder and excitement in the child’s eyes as the stack grows taller and taller. [At the end, I think the child says “Will it go higher dad?”]

My kids love stacking these tiles.

While the tiles pictured above are often used to create tessellations patterns that lie flat, there is a real challenge in stacking them vertically. And so I thought: What if there were Stacking Cats tiles? And there were! I purchased 6 stacking cats, which ended up working well for our stacking purposes. However, I think I would try to get larger versions if I were to buy again.

My children loved stacking the cats. Getting the tallest stack (all 6 cats) was the preferred goal. Here is one example.

Beyond one stack of six, I wanted them to find other ways to stack the six cats. And so I timed them to see who could come up with a different way to stack the six cats the fastest.

Their stacking races began with Liam’s three stacks of 2. “Let me try,” Siena said and in true sibling fashion flicked over Liam’s cats and making her own version of 2+2+2.

They (and my husband) continued racing to stack the cats.

“So, how many ways can you stack the cats?” I asked. I anticipated an answer focusing on the different decompositions of the number six. But Liam’s answer was WAY better and reminded me of the combinatorics that comes up when stacking cats.

Liam (7): “There are 1000 ways to stack the cats. You can do it different ways, different orders.”

Liam was paying attention to the ordering of the cats, and the orientation (see third cat from the top in the stack below)of each cat in the stack

There are indeed many ways to stack the cats. How will your children/students stack the cats?

[Note: You don’t need these wooden cats to enjoy this book. Stacking stuffed animals is fun too. But if that’s not challenging enough, I’m sure your students/ children can find some excellent objects to practice their stacking skills! Maybe they’ll even end up on the Recordsetter.com website]

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Thanks and see you next Monday! #mathbookmagic