Telling the Story of Math

Posted by Big Universe on Nov 13, 2012 4:24:49 AM

Storytelling is a fun way to find meaning in many concepts whether it be the reasons a family would want to immigrate to America, how a seedling grows into a plant or what makes a zero so important. In fact, using personification in math to create stories can really help students to understand concepts.

Imagine the digits. I'd be willing to bet, you could put a gender to each of the ten digits. If I asked you to, you might even be able to draw the character that each digit personifies adding in details about color choice and character traits. (That would be a fun Big Universe writing project!)

If prompted, you could probably come up with a story that explains how two numbers can go through a factory and come out with a new product. Let's face it, students everywhere are faced with "story problems" on a regular basis. From buying apples, to sharing sticks of gum, to setting up a room full of chairs, students work with the stories behind the equations to make math come alive.

Stories help make sense of things, even abstract concepts. For example, we all know the importance of a zero in mathematics. What better way to explain it than in a story?

This past week's featured publisher, Charlesbridge, has published a book called A Place for Zero that does just that. This fun story tells about a zero who goes on a journey through Digitaria to figure out his place. With some intelligent play on words here and there, the story touches upon the identity property as well as place value.

I read this story to my fourth graders who have studied these concepts over the years and they enjoyed the story as well as the fresh view on the importance of the Zero. Here, a story helped to bring those math ideas to life in a very creative way and got the students discussing them as they reviewed the story.

There are many books here at Big Universe that cover many math concepts from stories illustrating mathematical ideas to putting math in the context of the world around us.

Check out the great collection here at your fingertips and consider sharing your favorite math book with us in a comment!

~EMP

Topics: Classroom Ideas

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