Read & Make: Count on Me + Math Quest Cards

When Danielle Davis of This Picture Book Life asked me to dream up a little math-y crafty to accompany Miguel Tanco’s picture book, Count on Me, I was ready. I could overcome my fear of all things arithmetic!

Unlike me, the curly-haired heroine of this beautifully illustrated book has a special love for math. While her dad has a passion for painting, her mom science, and her brother music (he plays a tuba twice his size), the smallest member of the family sees shapes and patterns everywhere. She skips stones to see concentric circles form and tracks the trajectory of a paper airplane. She finds math everywhere.

Count on Me cover

Tanco’s sweet story is followed by a book-within-a-book: the heroine’s math notebook that illustrates math concepts like fractals, polygons, curves, solid figures, trajectories and sets (in terms clear enough that even I can understand).

Inspired by the small heroine’s passion for math, I painted a deck of cards with basic concepts from the book to spark my own scavenger math hunt. If we take the time to notice, what patterns, polygons, circles, and curves can we discover in the world around us?

Materials:

  • Art cards or index cards (I picked up these little Legion Paper samplers at my local craft store)
  • Pen, marker, and/or paint
  • The world!

Count on Me supplies

I copied the math concepts illustrated in Count on Me and in an attempt to emulate Tanco’s delightful, watery illustrations, I used watercolor paint to tint them. However, young artists can skip the paint and get the job done easily enough with markers and crayons.

Count on Me Deck

I drew and labeled the cards with a range of basic polygons, solid forms like cones and cylinders, patterns of concentric circles and curves, and other concepts to create a deck of 25 cards. Then my son and I went hunting through the house and around our neighborhood. This is some of what we found:

We found so many surprises: dandelion fluff fractals, milk carton polygons, the curved trajectory of a Frisbee in flight. What will you find?

 

Pippi Stitches

Pippi Stitch

Lately I’ve been trying to summon more Pippi into my life: her strength and irreverence, her mismatched socks and gravity-defying braids. If you know and love Astrid Lindgren’s creation, you know what I mean. If you don’t, you’ll have to get yourself a copy of the classic (preferably the one with Lauren Childs’s paper-cut illustrations). On a recent night, my friend gathered a bunch of us and invited us to make something that would inspire us in the months to come. I decidedly to embroider–sloppily, unevenly, in Pippi fashion–one of my favorite quotations from the book: “I have never tried that before so I should definitely be able to do that.” Here’s to that!

Creative Kid: Ink Drinker Shoebox House

In our school library, we’re back at it–creating new shoebox rooms to go with our favorite stories. Last year we made a fairy-tale themed high-rise. This spring we used a mishmash of recyclables to make a crypt (and aboveground graveyard!) for the Ink Drinker, Eric Sanvoisin’s ink-slurping, book-swilling vampire.

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The Ink Drinker, a book about discovering an appetite for books, is beloved in our school. The kids supplied the crypt with coffins for the Ink Drinker (and a couple guests), books for guzzling, wallpaper made from words, and plenty of headstones.

If you haven’t encountered it yet, this skinny early-chapter book is well-pitched for a third-grade read-aloud. (Read it to second graders at your own peril. Those littles tend to FREAK OUT about the vampire element.) Because it’s slight, you can read the whole thing aloud in about 30 minutes.

If you find your audience is hooked, follow up with the next three stories in the series (A Straw for Two, The City of Ink Drinkers, and Little Red Ink Drinker). The stories are translated from the French somewhat choppily but I choose to believe that the bumpy translation adds to its charm.

 

Read & Make: Terrific Tongues! Giveaway

*Publisher giveaway* for U.S. residents–The giveaway offer has now ended. Congratulations to Erin Ellis! 

You can clean your eyeballs with your tongue (if you happen to be a gecko). Or you can use your tongue as a lance (if you’re a woodpecker impaling a larva). And if you’re a snake, you can smell with your tongue.

Frog party blower by homemadecity.comI learned about these fun tongues in Maria Gianferrari’s playful, informative picture book, Terrific Tongues! (with spirited, bright illustrations by Jia Liu). An inviting read-aloud, the simple text keeps the audience guessing at each turn of the page: Which tongue (with which function) belongs to which animal? Sidebars and back matter offer more detailed information about the unusual abilities of tongues.

 

If you (or a young someone you know) would like to take a turn unraveling your tongue just like a North American bullfrog, here’s a project to try.

What You Need:

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party blowers (in red or pink)

1 sheet of card stock green paper

color paper (construction, origami, whatever you have)

Frog Party Blower template

optional: googly eyes

Instructions:

Using the template above, trace the frog shape onto your green card stock. Cut along the outline. Use a hole punch to cut out the circle/mouth hole. Trace and cut out the cheeks, eyes and pupils onto color paper of your choice. Glue the eyes and cheeks to the frog. Insert the blower into the mouth & voila. You are a bullfrog! Perfect for a birthday party or a book celebration of Terrific Tongues!

To learn more about author Maria Gianferrari, go to http://mariagianferrari.com/ or visit her on Facebook or Instagram.

 

 

 

 

Read & Make: Cloth Lullaby & Sashiko

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This book. I’m not sure which is more beautiful: the words or the pictures. Cloth Lullaby: The Woven Life of Louise Bourgeois (written by Amy Novesky; illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault) was published a couple of years ago, but my appreciation for its cross-hatched reds and blues hasn’t abated, nor has my admiration for its quiet telling about an emerging artist.

fullsizeoutput_169For me, the illustration’s delicate inky stitches brought to mind sashiko, a Japanese form of embroidery that I’ve been spotting online a lot lately.

Sashiko is usually a running stitch; the word sashiko translates to “little stabs.” My attempt at sashiko was my own improvised version. I used fabric scraps I had on hand, denim pieces from old jeans and worn cotton patches I rescued a while back from a disintegrating quilt. I grabbed embroidery floss for thread and the sharpest needle I could find.

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I didn’t make anything in particular. I’m not sure I will. But I found the stitching meditative and love the way the stitches & patches look: imperfect, wobbly, delicate, salvaged. I think the simplicity and improvisation would appeal to kids, too (although I’d probably use thinner cotton so that the “little stabs” are easier to make). I’m going to try it out in my school library after reading Cloth Lullaby aloud–I’ll let you know how it goes . . .