Picture Book Review: Learning Math with Sylvan Dell

Posted by Big Universe on Sep 13, 2012 4:30:38 AM

I must confess: math is not my strong suit. I am a Word Girl. Still, as we point out to my nearly 11-year-old daughter, math is part of our everyday life. We use it all the time ... often without realizing it.

About six years ago, we discovered Sylvan Dell's series of math-based picture books. The publisher had sent me some titles to review for The Reading Tub, my nonprofit. The timing couldn't have been more perfect. My daughter was in Kindergarten and the concepts offered by One Odd Day, My Even Day, and My Half Day were just what we needed. In fact, she enjoyed them so much she took them to school to share with her classmates. As my daughter's Kindergarten teacher said "[These books] succeed in getting the kids excited about math. You can't ask for more than that."

What began with One Odd Day has now gone on to include picture books that help kids with concepts like addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. With the exception of The Great Divide by Suzanne Slade (division) , we have not seen the other titles. Still, I'm betting they are just as wonderful as these three ...

picture book mathOne Odd Day
by Doris Fisher and Dani Sneed; illustrated by Karen Lee
Sylvan Dell Publishing, 2006

Is it really possible? This is truly odd! From the numbers on the clock, to the sleeves on his shirt, our young student has a day filled with nothing but odd numbers. Even Princess, his dog, has five legs! This rhyming book helps children learn and distinguish odd numbers.

  • The class (25 Kindergarteners) laughed their way through the numbers, pointing out lots of the smaller elements in the illustrations.
  • Humorous illustrations and a rhyming story combine to help kids identify odd numbers from 1 to 99. A coloring activity at the back helps them create visual effects of number patterns for themselves.
  • "I love these books and I'm going to order them for my classroom."
  • You'll want to have it at home for several of the early math years, because it will help reinforce learning in a way that makes sense to them.

picture book mathMy Even Day
by Doris Fisher and Dani Sneed; illustrated by Karen Lee
Sylvan Dell Publishing, 2007

What would you do if your mom had two heads and you had two left shoes? How would you handle the class trip to the zoo? Such are the dilemmas our young student faces when he wakes up and realizes that everything in his day is an even number!

  • The Kindergarten class (25 kids) had a lot of fun with the story. They liked the silliness of it and there was plenty of laughter.
  • We read this with One Odd Day so when we got to the end and our student sees only half his hair, they were ready to read about fractions!

picture book mathMy Half Day
by Doris Fisher and Dani Sneed; illustrated by Karen Le
Sylvan Dell Publishing, 2008

In words and imagery, My Half Day walks children through the portions of life. This is a humorous fantasy that builds learning fractions into the story.

  • Our daughter has been waiting anxiously for this book ever since her class read My Even Day. She laughed her way through the book, pointing out the differences, changes, and otherwise funny things (like camp counselors on skates).
  • This is fun to read, and the illustrations offer lots of opportunities for exploring (with or without reading the text). It will take a couple more readings before our child gets past the humor of the story and settles in to its lessons.
  • For kids who are just learning fractions or are struggling with them, this would be a handy book to have. It's much more fun than flashcards.

Topics: Classroom Ideas, Personal Experiences, Reading Lists

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