## Tuesday, September 25, 2012

### Math Storytelling Day Ideas for the Classroom

Today, September 25, is Math Storytelling Day. On this day, those of us who love math can have fun making up and sharing math-related stories. Stories can involve puzzles, logic, brain teasers, human relationships—just about anything, as long as math is involved.

Some of your students may enjoy the short mysteries by Donald J. Sobol. His hero, Encyclopedia Brown, often solves detective problems using math such as in The Case of the Two-Dollar Bill. Sherlock Holmes is another detective who seems to be a whiz at math and uses it in his work. Magic Tree House books often include math as well as science and geography. One of my favorite books as a young student was From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Claudia continuously counts her change and then spends it while planning her exploits.

Your students may enjoy creating their own stories involving math and then sharing them with the class. For a more involved project, have them write and illustrate their stories on colored paper. Add a cardboard cover to make a book, complete with the author's bio. Then let your students share their books with younger students at your school, with their families, with local boys and girls' clubs, or with seniors in your neighborhood.

Here's a story problem from Excel Math 4th grade (the answer is given below):
Four girls caught a total of 20 bugs. If they each caught the same number of bugs, how many bugs did each girl catch?
In Excel Math, students tackle word problems in 2nd through 6th grades. In addition to shorter problems similar to the one above, Excel Math has a unique take on story problems, called Create A Problem. With these more complex word problems, students are given a chance to express their own understanding of a story problem. Create A Problem exercises merge math and literacy as they help students develop higher-order thinking skills.

Create A Problem lessons start with simple stories and give students a chance to observe what is happening in the story. They then use those observations to have the students solve problems. Later in the curriculum, we ask students to create a problem or two, and make up a CheckAnswer. (Read about the CheckAnswer system in our previous blog post.) Finally, students are able to finish a story in their own words and write several problems about their story ending. This demonstrates mastery AND integration. The format of the page allows longer answers, along with charts, graphs and other expressions of the students' solutions.

Here's a sample of a 3rd grade Create A Problem exercise:
 Excel Math 3rd Grade Create A Problem

In Excel Math, we include Create A Problem exercises so students have a chance to create and write their own math stories and learn to solve and write word problems. Here's a Create A Problem page from 4th grade: