Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Halloween Books and Activities

Are you looking for a fun and easy way to integrate math and literature?  Here's some great lessons I do just about every year during October.

First, I read Harriet's Halloween Candy by Nancy Carlson.  After trick-or-treating Harriet doesn't want to share her candy.  She sorts her candy several ways, and then hides it in several places.  She soon becomes so worried about finding a good hiding place that she decides that she will just have to eat it all.  This of course leads to other problems!  This is a great book to reinforce story elements and summarizing.  The pictures add more details to the story, so it's also great for inferring and reading the pictures.

After reading this book I like to do a graphing activity.  I give pairs of students a bag of candy to sort.  Each group makes a tally chart and then creates a bar graph.  For my second graders I keep it simple-5 different types of candy and no more than 10 pieces of each type.  After making our graphs we make some math observations and write some sentences about our graphs.  And then we enjoy a few pieces of candy!

How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin by Margaret McNamara is another great book I use each year.  This is a fictional story about a classroom of students that are estimating the number of seeds in different sized pumpkins.  The students learn that it's not always the biggest pumpkin that has the most seeds.  The author also provides some information about pumpkin seeds in the end notes.

For this activity I bring in enough pumpkins for groups of 4 students.  First, students clean out the pumpkins, separating the pulp from the seeds.  This is quit an event! I am always surprised by how many children haven't looked inside a pumpkin.  The seeds are dried and roasted by a parent and returned to school the following day to be counted by each group.  (We roast them so they are easier to count.)  I give the groups blank hundred charts and show them how to glue the seeds down.  I have found it is easier to count them and provides a great visual of groups of hundreds.  Some years we even estimate the weights of the pumpkins too.  You can read a post my class wrote about this activity last year on our class blog.

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