Betcha! (Estimating): At stake: two free tickets to the All-Star Game. And all you have to do is guess the correct number of jelly beans in a jar at the Planet Toys store. One particularly smart boy has an idea: Why guess when you can estimate? He plays a game with his buddy as they head over to the store on the bus. With four people per row, 10 rows, and a few folks standing in the aisle, he estimates that there are 43 people on the bus. "I didn't even need a pencil," he boasts. Knowing how to estimate is an essential skill that helps children determine approximate totals as well as check the reasonableness of their solutions to problems. Illustrated by S.D. Schindler.
Dave's Down-to-Earth Rock Shop (Classifying): Budding geologists Josh and Amy are crazy about collecting rocks. And with the help of local expert Dave, they learn how to sort rocks by different attributes: size, color, hardness and type. "We're kind of like rock detectives," says Amy. The story is filled with lots of rock facts. Classifying objects according to attributes is a skill used throughout mathematics and science. (Dave's shop is a real place, located in Evanston, Illinois, around the block from where Stuart used to live.) Illustrated by Cat Bowman Smith.
Dinosaur Deals (Equivalent Values): For dino-lovers Mike and his little brother Andy, there's nothing as exciting as the Dinosaur Card Trading Fair. Andy's in heaven on his 7th birthday when Mom lets Mike take him for the very first time. Mike really wants a T. Rex card, but to get it he's going to have to trade. He needs three Allosaurus cards to get a T. Rex, but has only one. This is going take some wheeling and dealing. Helping children to comprehend the concept of equivalent values is key to their understanding of equations. Illustrated by Kevin O'Malley.
Divide and Ride (Dividing): In order to ride the Dare-Devil roller coaster at the Carnival, there must be two kids in each seat. But what if you're part of a group of 11 best friends? Ten kids will fit in five seats, but what do you do about the one who's "left over"? Meanwhile, chairs on the Satellite Wheel seat three, which means two best friends will be left over. Every ride presents a problem. Can the kids figure out how to fill all the seats so that everybody gets to ride? Understanding the meaning of remainders in simple division problems is a precursor to solving more difficult division problems. Illustrated by George Ulrich.
Earth Day—Hooray! (Place Value): Members of Maple Street Save-the-Planet Club are cleaning up Gilroy Park when Ryan has a brainstorm: Instead of throwing aluminum cans in the garbage, why not bring them to the Recycling Center and use the money to buy flowers to decorate the park for Earth Day? Mrs. Watson, the club's advisor, figures out that they're going to need 5,000 cans, so the kids start a big collection campaign at school. Cans are grouped in bags of 10, 100 and 1,000. Recycling facts are sprinkled throughout the illustrations. Understanding place value is key to working easily with large numbers. Illustrated by Renée Adriani.
Game Time! (Time): Last year, the Falcons were the soccer league champs. Can the Huskies beat them this year? The big game is only seven days away—just one week. Then it's only one day away—24 hours. Then it's only an hour away—60 minutes. At first the Falcons come on strong, scoring during the first 15-minute quarter. Will the Huskies catch up by the half, 30 minutes into the game? It's a nail-biter, right down to the last second! The relationships between the various units of time—seconds, minutes, hours, days, and weeks—and how clocks and calendars represent these units are important concepts for children to understand. Illustrated by Cynthia Jabar.
The Grizzly Gazette (Percentage): It's election time at Camp Grizzly. Who will win the race to be the new mascot? Sophie's got the support of the all-important boat club. Daniel hands out flyers and candy bars. But with 50 out of 100 campers—50%—still undecided, Corey decides to throw her hat in the ring. As the race heats up, The Grizzly Gazette publishes polls showing how the percentages break down using a pie graph. Can Corey catch up? Learning how to describe a group of 100 in terms of percentages is the first step toward understanding this important concept. Illustrated by Steve Björkman.
Hamster Champs (Angles): The car drives away and suddenly it’s just Hector the cat and three clever hamsters: Pipsqueak, Chuckles and Moe. The hamster champs offer to show Hector their new stunt, which requires they leave the safety of their cage, but only if Hector promises not to chase them. “All right,” he says, “But if I get bored…watch out!” Using a protractor to measure a 30-degree angle, the hamsters set up a ramp made out of a board supported by blocks. Then they get in a toy car, parked on the couch, and race down another ramp—this one made of pillows—which gives them enough speed to climb up the board and briefly fly in the air. Wheee! Hector’s not impressed. So they try again with a 45-degree angle. Then a 60-degree angle, but it's too steep. Hector’s getting bored! He wants a larger angle. Guess what happens when the champs try a 180-degree angle? Learning about angles helps children identify and describe different geometric shapes. Illustrated by Pedro Martin.
Jump, Kangaroo, Jump! (Fractions): It's Field Day at camp. The 12 campers—a kookaburra, an emu, two platypuses, three koalas, four dingoes and Kangaroo—can't wait for the games to start. The group divides into halves, then thirds and finally fourths to make equal-sized teams (6, 4 and 3 each) for the big competitions. But it's each camper for himself in the long jump, which is Kangaroo's personal favorite. Seeing the relationship between division and fractions is an important step in understanding fractions. Illustrated by Kevin O'Malley.
Lemonade for Sale (Bar Graphs): When members of the Elm Street Kids' Club decide to sell lemonade to raise money to fix up their clubhouse, they do it in style. Dressed in special "lemon hats," with Petey the Parrot, the club mascot squawking, "Lemonade for Sale!," business booms at first. Sheri keeps track on a bar graph, plotting the number of cups sold against the days of the week. But suddenly sales drop when Jed the Juggler comes to town. What will the Elm Street kids do? Gathering, charting and comparing data is an important skill for assessing progress and making predictions. Illustrated by Tricia Tusa.
Less Than Zero (Negative Numbers): It is so much fun to be a penguin—especially when you can swirl around on your very own ice scooter. Perry really wants one, but they cost 9 clams and he doesn't have a clam to his name. Then mom pays him 4 clams to trim the ice in front of their house. Perry decides to make a chart to track his savings. So far, so good! But then he goes to the Ice Circus with Fuzzy and it costs 5 clams. Fuzzy lends him the extra clam and now Perry is in debt and has to mark his chart at "-1." When Baldy loans him 2 clams for a Fishy Float, the total dips even further, to "-3." Will Perry be able to climb out of negative number territory, pay back his friends, and make enough money for a scooter? Good thing there's always plenty of snow to shovel! The introduction of negative numbers extends a child's knowledge of the number system and is an important concept in algebra. Illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz.
The Penny Pot (Counting Coins): Art teacher Fran is painting kids' faces at the school fair for 50 cents each. But Jessie has only three dimes, a nickel and four pennies, which is just 39 cents. So Fran puts out a "penny pot" for spare change. Miguel has a quarter, a nickel, two dimes and three pennies: 53 cents. He adds three cents to the penny pot. All the other kids contribute, too. Soon there's more than enough for Jessie. Learning what different coins are worth and adding up change are important life skills. Illustrated by Lynne Cravath.
Polly's Pen Pal (Metrics): Polly's new pen-pal, Ally, lives in Montreal, Canada, where they use the metric system. Polly and Ally have lots in common: They both have cats, like the color purple, and are just about the same size and weight. But when Ally writes that she is 125 centimeters tall, Polly needs to ask her Dad for help to figure out how tall that really is. Dad uses a baseball bat about 1 meter—100 centimeters—long as a reference, and shows Polly that one centimeter is about the width of his little finger. Dad helps Polly figure out grams and kilograms, and meters and kilometers, also by using every day references she can relate to. The use of rough equivalents in terms of familiar objects and distances helps kids become familiar and comfortable with the metric system, Illustrated by Rémy Simard.
Ready, Set, Hop! (Building Equations): Who's the better hopper? Matty, the tall frog? Or Moe, who's just plain big? Only a hopping contest can settle the matter. It takes Moe only five hops to make it to the big rock. Matty needs two more hops. So how many hops did Matty take? (5 hops + 2 hops = ?). The happy hoppers keep going until—splash!—they're in the pond. Knowing how equations are built is central to children's learning how to interpret and write number sentences. Illustrated by Jon Buller.
Room for Ripley (Capacity): The guppy in the pet store ripples through the water as he swims, so Carlos names him Ripley. Carlos wants to buy Ripley, though first he needs to set up a fish bowl at home with a little help from big sister Ana. He pours a cup of water into the bowl, but it isn't nearly enough. Then another cup, which makes a pint. But he needs more. How many pints make a quart? How many quarts in a half-gallon? In a gallon? It sure takes a lot of water to keep a little fish happy! Children need to understand the relationships between the various units used to measure liquid capacity. Illustrated by Sylvie Wickstrom.
Rodeo Time (Reading a Schedule): Katie and Cameron are all excited to help their uncle, Cactus Joe, with chores at the rodeo. Their first chore is watering the horses before the Bareback Bronc Riding event. "It starts at 3:00, so be there at 2:00 sharp," Joe tells them. "You'll need an hour to get the job done." Katie makes a schedule. The next day, the rodeo starts with a Parade and Grand Entry at 10:00 a.m., followed by lunch at noon, and then it's time to water the horses at 2:00 p.m. By lunchtime, Katie and Cameron are running late. They feel awful when the see Cactus Joe taking care of the horses because they didn't arrive in time. But they get a chance to make it up by catching loose calves one half hour before the Calf Roping Contest. Katie makes up another schedule: Barrel Racing at 10:30 a.m., lunch at noon, Livestock Show at 1:30 p.m., then catching calves at 2:30 p.m. Cameron checks his watch and this time they make it! For the really important final task of handing out ribbons for the Bull Riding Championship—Cactus Joe's specialty—Katie's schedule includes both the starting and ending time for events, so they'll be sure to be on time. But even the best plans can get knocked off course when a bunch of bicycle-riding clowns drive by. Will the kids make it? Reading a schedule involves time-telling skills, developing a sense of elapsed time, and an ability to anticipate and plan. Illustrated by David T. Wenzel.
Safari Park (Finding Unknowns): Grandpa's taking all the grandkids to the neatest amusement park ever: Safari Park. All the Jungle King rides cost 4 tickets. Rhino Rides are just two tickets. Monkey Games and Tiger Treats are a bargain at one ticket each. But a ride on the "spectacular, amazing, heart-pounding Terrible Tarantula" costs six tickets! Each of the kids has 20 tickets and has to figure out the best combination to have the most fun. Which would you choose? An essential part of early algebraic thinking is understanding a "number sentence" with a missing element (8 + ? = 20), and the process for figuring out the unknown. Illustrated by Steve Björkman.
Shark Swimathon (Subtracting Two-Digit Numbers): The Ocean City Sharks swim team—Gill, Fin, Stripes, Tiny, and the hammerhead twins, Flip and Flap—really want to go the state swim meet, but they're short on funds. If they can swim 75 laps over the next four days, the local newspaper will sponsor them. The first day they swim a total of 14 laps (75 - 14 = 61). The next day they do a little better with 17 laps (61-17 = 44) But will they make their goal? Learning to subtract 2-digit numbers with and without regrouping prepares children for subtracting larger numbers. Illustrated by Lynne Cravath.
Sluggers' Car Wash (Dollars and Cents): The 21st Street Sluggers have a problem: Their t-shirts are all worn and dirty. And that won't do at all for playing against the 7th Avenue Spitfires. How can they raise some money fast? A car wash! First, the Sluggers pool their money to buy supplies. Then they set up an assembly line. CJ keeps track of the money. That's easy when the man in the convertible gives him 2 dollar bills, 4 quarters, 4 dimes and 2 nickels: $3.50 is the exact amount. But then Will's Mom gives him a $5 bill. Can he figure out the correct change? Counting change is an important skill needed for everyday life. Illustrated by Barney Saltzberg.
Too Many Kangaroo Things to Do! (Multiplying): Poor Kangaroo! It's his birthday but everybody's too busy to play with him. Emu has to bake one cake (1 x 1), spread two colors of frosting (1 x 2), decorate the cake with three flowers (1 x 3) and add four big candles (1 x 4). That's 10 Emu things to do when you add them up. The two platypuses, three koalas and four dingoes are likewise occupied with multiple tasks. Multiply each group's tasks, then add the totals together and it equals…a party! By learning how to multiply by 1, 2, 3, and 4, children are introduced to multiplication, one of the four basic arithmetic operations. Illustrated by Kevin O'Malley.
Treasure Map (Mapping): Buried treasure! Matthew can't wait to tell his friends in the Elm Street Kids' Club about the cool map he found. It's over 50 years old and filled with clues that lead them to the new Wonderland Park. Petey the Parrot cheers them on as they try to make sense of dated directions. The clues don't always match—a dirt path has now become a paved sidewalk and there's the mystery of what happened to the big old tree. But they finally find the "X" that marks the spot and start digging. It's a time capsule! The kids decide to add their own treasures to surprise the next group of friends that finds the map. Even Petey contributes a loose tail feather. Map-reading uses several mathematical skills, including interpreting symbols and understanding scale and direction. Illustrated by Tricia Tusa.
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