Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Let's Measure!


I love to integrate picture books into my math teaching. It is fun to weave in reading wherever I can in different subject areas, and math is no exception! 

One of my favorite nonfiction picture book authors is Steve Jenkins. He has written several books that focus on unique characteristics of animals - how they sleep, how fast they run, or why some animals behave the way they do. The information in the books is just plain fun, but the illustrations are awesome! His style is very distinctive and after showing the kids one of his books and discussing the illustrations they were able to find several other of his books in the nonfiction section of our classroom library.

During my nonfiction reading unit, I always make sure to read aloud Steve Jenkins' book Actual Size. This is a fun book that shows various body parts of animals in real size! The goliath spider is twelve inches in real life, and the illustration of it in the book is twelve inches. The saltwater crocodile's head takes up three pages to show it in real "actual size."

Image result for steve jenkins actual size

After reading the book I realized it would make a great resource for measurement lessons in math. The picture of the gorilla hand on the cover is also a page in the book and is a natural comparison point for children. They are amazed at how big the gorilla's hand is and how it compares to theirs. So for our comparing length lesson, we compared our hands to a gorilla's hand!

I took the gorilla hand from the book and copied it actual size on paper. This was challenging because it won't fit on a letter or legal size page. We had to use ledger size paper (11x17) to get the gorilla's hand to fit without shrinking it down. 

For the lesson I started by giving out the gorilla hand and ruler to the students. They measured the length of each of the gorilla's fingers. Then I had students first draw their hand at the bottom of the page and color it in using a bright colored crayon (yellow or white) so that it would be easily seen. Afterwards the students measured the length of their own fingers and record those and then find the difference between the gorilla's fingers and their fingers.


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Steve Jenkins also has another book similar to Actual Size called Prehistoric Actual Size. This book features dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals with their bodies again shown in real size. While I didn't use this book for a lesson, I did put it out as a station for children to visit. They read about the animal, made a sketch, and then measured to compare. Measurement is much more meaningful when it is hands on!
Image result for prehistoric actual size

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