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Myths, History, Nursery Rhymes, Fantasy & Facts

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Myths, History, Nursery Rhymes, Fantasy & Facts

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New Suggestions and Recommendations for Teaching
...Mathematics using Stories/Storytelling Techniques from
...Storytellers, Healers, Teachers and Librarians - Jan 2011

Books about Using Stories to Teach Math-Mathematics-Numbers -Children
Books about Using Stories to Teach Math-Mathematics-Numbers -Adults
Books about Using Stories to Teach Math-Mathematics-Numbers -Instruction
Books and Products About Music and Math-Mathematics-Numbers
Toys and Games - Math-Mathematics-Numbers
SOS: Searching Out Stories/Info About Stories and Math-Numbers
...Advice, Comments and References from Storytellers,
...Teachers and Librarians


1) How about Teaching Mathematics as Storytelling by Rina Zazkis (2008)? I am halfway through reading it and even a mathematical illiterate like me finds it interesting.
Review from This book presents storytelling in mathematics as a medium for creating a classroom in which mathematics is appreciated, understood, and enjoyed. The authors demonstrate how students' mathematical activity can be engaged via storytelling. Readers are introduced to many mathematical stories of different kinds, such as stories that provide a frame or a background to mathematical problems, stories that deeply intertwine with the content, and stories that explain concepts or ideas. Moreover, the authors present a framework for creating new stories, ideas for using and enriching existing stories, as well as several techniques for storytelling that make telling more interactive and more appealing to the learner. This book is of interest for those who teach mathematics, or teach teachers to teach mathematics. It may be of interest to those who like stories or like mathematics, or those who dislike either mathematics or stories, but are ready to reconsider their position.

Sheila W. 1/26/11

Here is a cute problem I found, but the kids will have to have calculators:
Take the number of the pigs who built houses that got blown down by the wolf, add the number of dwarfs, subtract the number of step-sisters Cinderella has to cope with, add the number of people able to spin gold out of straw, divide by the number of dancing princesses and what do you get?

And here's a story:

A Tale from Persia

Long ago, a man of Persia hosted a Bedouin from the desert, sitting him at table with his wife, two sons and two daughters; the wife had roasted one chicken, and the host told his guest: "Share it out among us," meaning to make fun of him. The Bedouin said he did not know how, but if they humored him he would try: when they agreed, he took the chicken and chopped it up, distributing it with these words: "The head for the head of the family," as he gave his host the bird's head; "the two wings for the two boys, the two legs for the two girls," giving them out, and "the parson's nose for the old woman," giving the wife the 'parson's nose' of the bird (this is a pun in Arabic) and finally, taking the best portion for himself, "The breast for the guest!" he said.

Now, the next day, the host said to his wife (having enjoyed this joke) that she should roast five chickens, and when lunchtime came he told the Bedouin, "Share them out among us."

"I have an idea," his guest replied, "that you are offended."

"Not at all. Share them out."

"Would you like me to do it by even numbers or odd?"

"By odd numbers."

"Very well," said the Bedouin. "You, your wife and one fowl make three." (Giving them one chicken.) "Your two sons and one fowl make three. Your two daughters and one fowl make three. And I and two chickens make three," he finished, taking two chickens for himself; and the joke was on the host again.

Seeing them eyeing his share, he smiled and continued, "Perhaps you are not content with my method--shall I share them out by even numbers, then?" When they said yes, he replied, "Well, then, my host, you and your two sons and one fowl make four. Your wife, her two daughters and one fowl make four." He passed the three male members of the household one chicken, and the three female members got one. "And," he concluded, "and myself plus three fowls makes four." Then raising his hands toward heaven he cried: "Praise be to Thee, O God, for Thou hast inspired me."

(From 'The Life and Works of Jahiz', written in the seventh century.)
(Note from JB: There is one book "available" through, but when I look at the price $189.70, I wonder if this is for real.)
Life and Works of Jahiz (Islamic World)

Folktale now a book:
The Clever Monkey: A Folktale from West Africa (Story Cove: a World of Stories) by Rob Cleveland. The author who adapted the tale also has a lesson plan here:

Karen C. 1/26/11


a) The tales Karen cites are important illustrations of the rule: Do this kind of trick only with familiar stories that the students have outgrown. (With fingers crossed that their cultural literacy includes these!)

Please keep in mind the principle that stories deliver more than facts. The healing/growing/compassion elements--the HEART elements--which serious stories plant so gently, must be left alone to sprout in their own time. I'd hate to tell an emotionally important story, and then rip it out by its roots in order to count them. At most, I think, students can follow such a story with artwork and retellings.

When a mårchen such as Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty has already ripened and shed its own fruits, then we can ask the older students to play games with its stalk.

Fran S. 1/26/11

Response to a) above:

I nominate Fran's response as Comment of the Month. So eloquent! Going in my journal.
Ellie S. 1/26/11

b) I'm willing to bet that 8 out of 10 grade school kids have never heard any of these stories. Hate to say it, but...
Kimberley K. 1/26/11

c) Around here, the Twelve Dancing Princesses would be the least familiar. Most of the kids I encounter are familiar with the others. Thanks to Disney, kids are more familiar with the French versions of the tales than the German ones, as they check out the versions closest to the movies, or the versions in popular modern picture books. That made me wonder about the solution to the math puzzle, because using those versions, I get 2/3rds.

Pigs who built houses that got blown down = 2
Add Number of dwarfs = 7
Subtotal = 9
Subtract the number of step-sisters Cinderella has to cope with = 2 in the most familiar version
Subtotal = 7
Add the number of people able to spin straw out of gold = 1 in the most famililar version...Rumpelstiltskin spun it, the girl only pretended to have done so.
Subtotal = 8
Divide by the number of dancing princesses [12] and you get
8/12, reducing to 2/3.

I'm not sure what the "payoff" would be for kids who get that answer.
Nick S. 1/26/11

Response to c) above: Why does there have to be a payoff? It's a math problem made a wee bit more fun because you are using characters from folktales to find the numbers. Nothing more, nothing less, unless of course the teachers have taken the opportunity to share the folktales with the children, prior to the math question. Just a way to connect stories and curriculum in an easy way.

I think sometimes it is good that there isn't a "payoff." Children today always seem to want a reward for the least little thing. Let's just do something for pure fun...okay I will admit, some folks don't think math is fun (me included) but reading the stories would be!
Karen C. 1/26/11

Response to above: Sure, but I was thinking that the problem would be more fun if it ended in a whole number, which could be tied to yet another story, or have some other resolution involving the actual answer. It's hard to get kids excited about putting on their thinking caps for what appears to be a fun puzzle, and then have it just end in a fraction with no apparent relation to the story puzzle.

I happen to enjoy numbers. As a kid, my friends and I were the kinds who would mess around with something that looked cool, and then later find out that it was a famous math theorem. I'm not criticizing the puzzle because I don't like numbers. I just think that some kids won't see it as having a point.

A payoff in a story or a joke is not a reward, it's a completion that resonates with the audience, a resolution. Think of it as being like a joke where everyone immediately gets the punchline and laughs all together. Now, think of the difference if half of the audience doesn't understand the punchline at first. Instead of a shared laugh, you may get a ripple of laughter and some looks of puzzlement. That's not as satisfying ot the audience. A math puzzle where the first reaction of some of the solvers is to ask what it means has not paid off the participants with satisfaction over having solved the puzzle. Without that, it's just another homework problem.
Nick S. 1/26/11

Response to above: Well, sometimes real life has to intrude. :)
Karen C. 1/26/11

Response to above: The idea is good but there DOES need to be a payoff of some kind I believe. Good idea to build on!
Bob S. 1/26/11

d) I've done something like that with the Doubling Pot story . . . put in one coin, pull out two, throw the two in and pull out four -- and yes, kids can go pretty far before getting tired of multiplying by two when there's a good story attached!
Mary G. 1/26/11

3) Don't forget Barbara Lipke's wonderful book of storytelling for math and science. I told The Little Old Lady and the Rice Cakes yesterday to 150 third graders. I was surprised at how quickly they did the math in their heads and recited the answers as we went thru the story. They did not need calculators. I commented on their quick calculations to a teacher and her response was that the students are whizzes calculating in their heads. I was impressed!

Let's add Barbara's book to this list!
Figures, Facts, & Fables: Telling Tales in Science and Math (Teacher to Teacher) (1996)
Review from Barbara Lipke demonstrates what a powerful tool storytelling can be in elementary and middle school science and math instruction.
About the Author
Barbara Lipke taught middle grades for twenty-four years in the Brookline, Massachusetts, public schools. She first discovered the power of storytelling to teach in the 1970s and has been sharing the strategy with students and other teachers ever since. She currently works full-time as a professional storyteller and an educational consultant and is a charter member of NCTE's committee on storytelling.

Merrilee H. 1/26/11

4) This list is very timely. I'm meeting with a 5th grade math teacher this afternoon, and had already compiled my own lists but am glad to have this treasuretrove at hand.

As usual I'm frustrated by the comments from early years, with no attributions. Some of them say "I'll send you the bibliography/activities etc I used"--but who is "I" and how could someone reach him/her?

Maybe we could ask Storytell folks to skim through the list and notify you if they were the source of an offer. If they are still willing to be contacted--how?

Fran S. 1/26/11
blessing Barbara Lipke and others who saw deeper than the basic arithmetic in most folktales.

RESPONSE: (Post sent to Storytell on 1/26/11)

...As most of you know, in the early days of Storytell and SOS, we did not include attributions of any kind or dates of posts, and that has come back to haunt us many times through the years, even though we did it with good intentions of trying to prevent spam. It wasn't until about 2005 that we decided to regularly include brief source info.

But now, especially as we're focusing on the SOS Math compilation, that lack of early information can be troublesome. Would those of you who have contributed to this math compilation in the past, please read through it and see if any of the citations are your own and advise me if I can now include that information with the citation. All I will use will be first name, last initial, and date of post (if known)...

Jackie B. 1/26/11

5) Kimberley suggested that 8 out of 10 grade school kids might not be familiar with these stories.

That may wll be.

Most kids have seen the Disney movies -- Snow White, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, and so on -- but other stories like Rumpelstiltskin, The Twelve Dancing Princesses, Rapunzel, and so on are less familiar. Most kids are familiar with The Three Little Pigs.

I taught in a suburban school in New Jersey, and in my last class the majority of my 4th grade kids were minorities. For our Storytelling project, the kids read traditional tales from around the world, and each of them selected one to tell to an audience. My Vietnamese girl chose a Vietnamese story, my Puerto Rican boy chose a Puerto Rican folk tale, and one of my Chinese boys chose a Chinese folk tale. My African American boy chose the story of Perseus, though; and while my Puerto Rican girl chose a Chinese story, another one of my Chinese boys chose a Jack tale. Some of my Caucasian kids chose traditional fairy tales, like Cinderella and Rumpelstiltskin, while others chose Russian and Indian and Middle Eastern folk tales.

My point being, with cultural diversity there may well not be a common ground when it comes to stories. Kids are thrilled when they find a favorite story from home in a book or collection -- it is validating for them, particularly if their families have come here from another country. But I think that if we hope to have a common story vocabulary, we're going to need to provide it.

When I introduce the reading part of a storytelling project, I read them the Grimm version of Cinderella. It is, as you know, NOT the Disney version. Even the kids who rolled their eyes when they heard I was reading Cinderella to them were transfixed by the not-so-nice details of the Grimm story. We talked about it, and they found themselves rethinking their ideas about fairy tales being just for little kids!

Back to the math problem. 2 (pigs) + 7 (dwarfs) - 2 (step sisters) + 1 (Rumpelstiltskin) / 12 (dancing princesses) = 8/12 or 2/3. In our part of the world, that would be roughly a 5th grade problem because of the division and fractions.

I concur with Fran -- though the kids are often not aware of the depth to which stories can go, we do need to be aware of it. And -- speaking as a teacher -- we do need to pay close attention to the context in which we use them for other purposes.

Ann S. 1/26/11

For complete, searchable lists of all books on using storytelling techniques
in the teaching of Math - Mathematics - Numbers
available at, click on:
Books Combining Storytelling and Math
Books Combining Storytelling and Mathematics
Books About Mathematics and Stories

There will be some inevitable duplications in these lists,
but each offers unique books that the other two do not.
"Math" and "Mathematics" do not list all the same books.

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Book titles are in dark blue and underlined. Click on them to learn more.
To retell these stories, get permission from the copyright holder if the material is not in the public domain.
In performance, always credit your sources.
Alphabetized with short descriptions for your convenience and to save you research time.

Blind Men (The) and the Elephant (Hello Reader!, Level 3, Grades 1&2) by Karen Backstein (1992) is set in India and comes in many versions. It's a wonderful logic story.
A retelling of the fable from India about six blind men who each get a limited understanding of what an elephant is by feeling only one part of it.
Another version by David Schmaltz: The Blind Men and the Elephant: Mastering Project Work. (2003)
Still another by John Godfrey Saxe: The Blind Men and the Elephant (1963)

Fire on the Mountain and Other Ethiopian Stories by Harold Courlander. (reprint 2000)
A distinguished collection of folk stories and legends of the peoples of Ethiopia and Eritrea with the wisdom, cynical humor and freshness of the ancient agrarian civilization. . . . These highly sophisticated tales make delightful reading."--Kirkus Reviews. Includes "The Hero of Adi Nifas," a version of the counting story set in Africa.

Jack Tales (The) by Richard Chase. (2003 - Ages 9-12)
The author collected these tales in the mountain country of North Carolina, where they have been handed down for generations. This book contains eighteen stories about Jack, many of them still completely new to the average reader. And what adventures Jack has! Includes "The Three Sillies."

Six Foolish Fishermen by Robert D. San Souci. (2000 - Ages 4-8)
The six foolish friends of the title give up fishing when three bring bait and the other three bring fishing poles. They become more upset when they count and realize that one of them is "missin' and musta got drownded!" Of course, when each friend counts, he forgets to count himself. San Souci uses enough Cajun seasoning to enliven the retelling, but not so much that the story becomes intimidating for reading aloud.

Stories to Solve, More Stories to Solve: Fifteen Folktales from Around the World, Still More Stories to Solve by George Shannon. (2000, 2001, 1994 - Ages 9-12)
Each book contains folktales from many different countries. The stories, as retold, all ask for the reader to answer a logic question. How can a thirsty crow drink from an almost-empty pitcher? How does arresting a stone help a judge find a boy's stolen money? This artfully illustrated book presents fourteen intriguing mysteries from world folklore.

Two Ways to Count to Ten: A Liberian Folktale by Ruby Dee with Susan Meddaugh (illus). (1990 - Ages 4-8)
"King Leopard is wise enough to plan for a successor: 'I must seek out the cleverest beast in our jungle. I must find one who is wise enough to rule well.' He plans a contest; the winner is to be named a prince and marry his daughter. Contestants must throw Leopard's spear up in the air and count to ten before it comes to earth again...The story is a strong one and will be an effective read-aloud."--Booklist

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For complete, searchable lists of thousands of children's books about
Math - Mathematics - Numbers
Books About Math for Children Ages 4-8
Books About Math for Children Ages 9-12
Books About Mathemathics for Children Ages 4-8
Books About Mathemathics for Children Ages 9-12

Books About Numbers for Children Ages 4-8
Books About Numbers for Children Ages 9-12

There may be duplications in these categories because of the similar spellings; "math" and "mathematics" are sometimes used interchangeably. I left them "as is" so that you would have access to all of the relevant books.



Book titles are in dark blue and underlined. Click on them to learn more.
To retell these stories, get permission from the copyright holder if the material is not in the public domain.
In performance, always credit your sources.
Alphabetized with short descriptions for your convenience and to save you research time.

Dot (The) and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics by Norton Juster (2000).
Once upon a time there was a sensible straight line who was hopelessly in love with a beautiful dot. But the dot, though perfect in every way, only had eyes for a wild and unkempt squiggle. All of the line's romantic dreams were in vain, until he discovered . . . angles! Now, with newfound self-expression, he can be anything he wants to be--a square, a triangle, a parallelogram. . . . And that's just the beginning!

Flatland/Sphereland (Everyday Handbook) by Edwin A. Abbott
Unless you're a mathematician, the chances of you reading any novels about geometry are probably slender. But if you read only two in your life, these are the ones. Taken together, they form a couple of accessible and charming explanations of geometry and physics for the curious non-mathematician.

Man Who Counted (The): A Collection of Mathematical Adventures by Malba Tahan with Patricia Reid Baquero (illus). (1993)
A delightful little book that combines the joys of mathematical recreation with some fine storytelling. It follows the Arabian adventures of a man with remarkable mathematical skills, which he uses to settle conflict and give wise advice. The tales of his travels involve the solving of mathematical puzzles and sharing insights from the minds of some of history's great mathematicians. In reading it, you can almost smell the spices and feel the desert wind.

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Book titles are in dark blue and underlined. Click on them to learn more.
To retell these stories, get permission from the copyright holder if the material is not in the public domain.
In performance, always credit your sources.
Alphabetized with short descriptions for your convenience and to save you research time.

40 Fabulous Math Mysteries Kids Can't Resist (Grades 4-8) by (2001 - Ages 9-12)
Fun-Filled Reproducible Mystery Stories That Build Essential Math Problem-Solving Skills
Make Math Fun!
Building serious math skills has never been so much fun!

Everything Kids' Math Puzzles Book (The): Brain Teasers, Games, and Activities for Hours of Fun (Everything Kids Series) by Meg Clemens, Sean Clemens and Glenn Clemens (2003 - Ages 9-12)
Who knew that math could be so cool? Crammed with games, puzzles, and trivia, this book puts the fun back into playing with numbers!

Math Magic for Your Kids: Hundreds of Games and Exercises from the Human Calculator to Make Math Fun and Easy by Scott Flansburg. (1998 - Ages 9-12)
Measuring flour for a birthday cake, setting the dinner table, counting change -- learning these simple skills daunts millions of children. And helping them along can be frustrating for parents. In Math Magic for Your Kids, Scott Flansburg comes to the rescue. With entertaining games and tricks, this proven method helps kids develop a positive attitude about numbers, the necessary foundation on which they will build math skills for the rest of their education.

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Music and Math products are in blue and underlined. Click on them to get more information.
Alphabetized with short descriptions for your convenience and to save you research time.

Harmonograph: A Visual Guide to the Mathematics of Music (Wooden Books) by Anthony Ashton. (2003)
During the nineteenth century, a remarkable scientific instrument known as a harmonograph revealed the beautiful patterns found in music. Harmonograph is an introduction to the evolution of simple harmonic theory, from the discoveries of Pythagoras to diatonic tuning and equal temperament. Beautiful drawings show the octave as triangle, the fifth as pentagram; diagrams show the principles of harmonics, overtones, and the monochord. Anthony Ashton examines the phenomenon of resonance in Chladni patterns, describes how to build a harmonograph of your own, and provides tables of world tuning systems. This inspiring book will appeal to musicians, mathematicians, designers, and artists alike.

Music and Mathematics: From Pythagoras to Fractals by Robin J. Wilson. (2006)
From Ancient Greek times, music has been seen as a mathematical art, and the relationship between mathematics and music has fascinated generations. This collection of wide ranging, comprehensive and fully-illustrated papers, authorized by leading scholars, presents the link between these two subjects in a lucid manner that is suitable for students of both subjects, as well as the general reader with an interest in music. Physical, theoretical, physiological, acoustic, compositional and analytical relationships between mathematics and music are unfolded and explored with focus on tuning and temperament, the mathematics of sound, bell-ringing and modern compositional techniques.

Musimathics, Volume 1: The Mathematical Foundations of Music by Gareth Loy. (2006)
In this volume, Loy presents the materials of music (notes, intervals, and scales); the physical properties of music (frequency, amplitude, duration, and timbre); the perception of music and sound (how we hear); and music composition. Musimathics is carefully structured so that new topics depend strictly on topics already presented, carrying the reader progressively from basic subjects to more advanced ones. Cross-references point to related topics and an extensive glossary defines commonly used terms. The book explains the mathematics and physics of music for the reader whose mathematics may not have gone beyond the early undergraduate level. Calling himself "a composer seduced into mathematics," Loy provides answers to foundational questions about the mathematics of music accessibly yet rigorously. The topics are all subjects that contemporary composers, musicians, and musical engineers have found to be important. The examples given are all practical problems in music and audio. The level of scholarship and the pedagogical approach also make Musimathics ideal for classroom use. Additional material can be found at a companion web site.

Rock 'N Learn: Addition & Subtraction Rock by Rock 'n Learn. (2004)
Upbeat music and energetic performers make these super cool songs favorites with kids. Delayed-answer drills challenge students to solve sums and differences to and from 18 before they hear the answers-much like animated flash cards. Recommended for ages 6 & up.

Twist and Shout Multiplication by LeapFrog.
It's music. It's math. It makes learning multiplication music to their ears.Music sets the pace to learning multiplication tables from 1-12 and some basic division. Kids groove and move their way through four games, each with a teach and a quiz mode.

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For a complete, searchable list of all books about
Music and Math - Mathematics - Numbers
available from (over 2,000 choices)
Products About Music and Math - Mathematics - Numbers





Toys and games are in dark blue and underlined. Click on them to get more information.
Alphabetized with short descriptions for your convenience and to save you research time.

Educational Insights See 'n' Solve Fraction Calculator (Ages 6 years and up)
The easy-to-use format reinforces introductory fraction skills without the complications of other scientific calculators - making it perfect for school and home. Students can add, subtract, multiply, and divide fractions easily. Press the special Numerator and Denominator keys to input a fraction problem. The large 2-line screen displays the problem (with common denominator), and lighted keys guide students through the steps to solve it.

Exploracise Gymathtics (DVD - Grades 2-5))
Gymathtics is the first children's exercise video that brings together exercise and math education. Kids Get Fit! Get Smart! and Have Fun! all at the same time! Gymathtics is a revolutionary educational exercise video for kids of all ages. Scientific research shows that movement in combination with learning enhances retention and recognition. The program includes multi-sensory techniques to accommodate various learning styles.

Multiplication Wrap Ups (Grades 1-3)
Learn math skills by wrapping string from the problem on the left to the answer on the right. Turn it over and see if your answers are correct. This multiplication set contains 10 self correcting keys. Covers 120 basic facts. Unique way for students to master multiplication.

Pretend and Play Calculator Cash Register (Ages 36 months to 7 years)
Well-designed with lots of terrific detail, Learning Resources' Calculator Cash Register completely satisfies a young child's hunger to play with bills, coins, cash drawers, and big numbers. The chiming cash register features a built-in solar calculator as its keypad, thus allowing kids to act as bankers, shopkeepers, and accountants all at once.

Subtraction Wrap Ups (Grades 1-3)
Learn math skills by wrapping string from the problem on the left to the answer on the right. Turn it over and see if your answers are correct. Subtraction set contains 10 self correcting keys. Learn and enhance math skills in the classroom with this fraction set of self-correcting keys.

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For a complete, searchable list of children's toys and games about
Math - Mathematics - Numbers
Children's Toys and Games for Math - Mathematics - Numbers

Advice, Comments and References from Storytellers, Teachers, Librarians
(excerpts from Storytell posts plus original research)

Book titles and online links are in blue and underlined. Click on them to get more stories and information.
Story titles are in quotation marks.
To retell any stories, get permission from the copyright holder if the material is not in the public domain.
In performance, always credit your sources.
Posts are added chronologically as they are received by Story Lovers World.

1) Arithmetic, a poem by Carl Sandberg.
Arithmetic is where numbers fly like pigeons in and out of your head.
Arithmetic tell you how many you lose or win if you know how many you had before you lost or won.
Arithmetic is seven eleven all good children go to heaven -- or five six bundle of sticks.
Arithmetic is numbers you squeeze from your head to your hand to your pencil to your paper till you get the answer.
Arithmetic is where the answer is right and everything is nice and you can look out of the window and see the blue sky -- or the answer is wrong and you have to start all over and try again and see how it comes out this time.
If you take a number and double it and double it again and then double it a few more times, the number gets bigger and bigger and goes higher and higher and only arithmetic can tell you what the number is when you decide to quit doubling.
Arithmetic is where you have to multiply -- and you carry the multiplication table in your head and hope you won't lose it.
If you have two animal crackers, one good and one bad, and you eat one and a striped zebra with streaks all over him eats the other, how many animal crackers will you have if somebody offers you five six seven and you say No no no and you say Nay nay nay and you say Nix nix nix?
If you ask your mother for one fried egg for breakfast and she gives you two fried eggs and you eat both of them, who is better in arithmetic, you or your mother?

"And He Built a Crooked House" can be found in 6 X H by Robert A. Heinlein (originally titled The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag) (1975)

3) "The Algebra Slippers" by Ted Russell (retold by Meryl Arbing).

4) The Wolf's Chicken Stew (Goodnight) by Keiko Kasza. 100 things the wolf brings to fatten up the chickens, (he is a baker - donuts, pancakes, cookies, and a cake) but in the end the wolf gets a surprise (and, no, it is not the woodcutter).

5) This story is in Virginia A. Tashjian's With a Deep Sea Smile: Story Hour Stretches for Large or Small Groups (1974) and is titled The Leopard's Daughter. It does have audience participation and kids (especially 4-6 graders) love it.

6) Figures, Facts, & Fables: Telling Tales in Science and Math (Teacher to Teacher) by Barbara Lipke Heinemann (1996).
It is hard to resist Barbara's enthusiasm. Once you understand the terrain and believe in your own potential as storyteller, the world of teaching and learning will transform you and your students.

7) "Using Stories to Teach Science and Math." It contains several articles within that section by Jennie Nash, Joan Leotta, Gail de Vos, and Suzanne Martin, so it's a fairly good overview of the topic. The book is from when NSN was the National Storytelling Association, & they're officially the author of Tales As Tools: The Power of Story in the Classroom from National Storytelling Press (NSA), 1994.

8) A Thousand Pails of Water by Ron Roy and Dinh Mai Vo. (1978)

9) Information on origami and also some bookmarks that can be printed out with story titles, such as Sadako and the thousand paper cranes by Eleanor Coerr and Ronald Himler. (1999)
Hiroshima-born Sadako is lively and athletic--the star of her school's running team. And then the dizzy spells start. Soon gravely ill with leukemia, the "atom bomb disease," Sadako faces her future with spirit and bravery. Recalling a Japanese legend, Sadako sets to work folding paper cranes. For the legend holds that if a sick person folds one thousand cranes, the gods will grant her wish and make her healthy again. Based on a true story, Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes celebrates the extraordinary courage that made one young woman a heroine in Japan. Includes instructions on how to fold your own paper crane!

There is also a lesson plan on whales and a free origami booklet: For a FREE copy of "101 Ways to Use Origami in the Classroom" (includes a $5 coupon toward MIM products) please send a SASE (2 stamps) and a #10 regular size envelope to Kurt Reimer, Math in Motion, 668 Stony Hill Road #233, Yardley, PA 19067.

A Mathematical Problem in Verse
A COOPER and Vintner sat down for a talk,
Both being so groggy, that neither could walk,
Says Cooper to Vintner, "I'm the first of my trade,
There's no kind of vessel, but what I have made,
And of any shape, Sir, just what you will,
And of any size, Sir, from a ton to a gill!"
"Then," says the Vintner, "you're the man for me,
Make me a vessel, if we can agree.
The top and the bottom diameter define,
To bear that proportion as fifteen to nine,
Thirty-five inches are just what I crave,
No more and no less, in the depth, will I have;
Just thirty-nine gallons this vessel must hold,
Then I will reward you with silver or gold,
Give me your promise, my honest old friend?"
"I'll make it tomorrow, that you may depend!"
So the next day the Cooper his work to discharge,
Soon made the new vessel, but made it too large;
He took out some staves, which made it too small,
And then cursed the vessel, the Vintner and all.
He beat on his breast, "By the Powers!" he swore,
He never would work at his trade any more.
Now, my worthy friend, find out, if you can,
The vessel's dimensions and comfort the man!*

12) I just ran across a cute little book and wanted to recommend it to those of you who tell in schools and want a math story. I work in a library so I could probably find these kinds of things all day, but this one caught my eye and thought I would share it with all of you. The title of the book is Three Pigs, One Wolf, Seven Magic Shapes (level 3) (Scholastic Reader, Math) by Grace Maccarone and David Neuhaus. Very cute story and interesting use of shapes. (1998) Tells the story of three pigs who acquire some magic shapes, which they use for various purposes, some smart and some not so smart. Includes a section with related activities.

13) For another math story, how about Two of Everything: A Chinese Folktale by Lily Toy Hong.
A Chinese folktale with a perfect blend of humor and wisdom. One spring morning, Mr. Haktak, a poor farmer, unearths a brass pot in his garden. Placing his coin purse inside for safekeeping, he carries his discovery home to his wife. After she accidently drops her hairpin inside, Mrs. Haktak reaches into the pot and, to her amazement, pulls out two identical hairpins and two matching coin purses. Quickly deducing the magic secret, husband and wife work feverishly to duplicate their few coins, creating enough gold to fill their hut.

14) How about the story of One Grain Of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale by Demi? (1997 - Ages 4-8)
Exotic, beautiful, and instructive, this "mathematical folktale" by author-illustrator Demi emerged from her love of India. The narrative and the evocative illustrations combine to create a real sense of the culture and atmosphere of this romantic land.
It's the story of Rani, a clever girl who outsmarts a very selfish raja and saves her village. When offered a reward for a good deed, she asks only for one grain of rice, doubled each day for 30 days. Remember your math? That's lots of rice: enough to feed a village for a good long time--and to teach a greedy raja a lesson.

Here is a site with some good ideas for the younger set.
Math in Folktales

Kendall Haven also has a book that deals specifically with stories and math activities: Marvels of Math: Fascinating Reads and Awesome Activities. (1998)
Riveting stories and intriguing facts about the innovations and triumphs of mathematicians throughout history answer such questions as, When did the concept of zero originate? Who discovered negative numbers? and How were geometry or algebraic equations first created? Each story has a list of terms to learn, related discussion questions, and experiments and activities that demonstrate and amplify the story's mathematical theme.

15) This might not be what you asked for, but it is connected to math and storytelling. In Sweden there is a series of textbooks in math called "Talriket" - "The Nation of Numbers". They use classical fairy-tales for the younger children. After tellling or reading the story you give the children mathematical problems dealing with something in the tale. I´m not a teacher and I haven´t had time to explore this yet. But it seems easier and more interesting to do mathematical operations with seven dwarfs than with the number 7. There has to be something similar in other countries, too.

Afanasev, Alexander. "Dividing the Goose." In Russian Fairy Tales (Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library). New York: Pantheon Books, 1976: 579-580.
The oral folk tradition in Russia was truly a magic spring. As in the fairy tale, it flowed inexhaustibly, reviving, consoling, and enlightening all who partook of it... these stories have an ingenuity that marks them as uniquely Russian.

17) Abrahams, Robert D. "Leopard, Goat, and Yam." In African Folktales (Pantheon Fairy Tale & Folklore). New York: Pantheon Books, 1983: 112.
This volume sports a hefty 95 stories gleaned from the notes of the earliest missionaries on up to recent anthropological studies. Abrahams admits that reading the stories lacks the full impact of hearing them told aloud but contends that they can nonetheless still be enjoyed. The stories feature numerous illustrations.

18) Ausubel, Nathan. "Higher Mathematics.", "Rabbinical Arithmetic." In A Treasury of Jewish Folklore. New York: Crown Publishers, rev. 1989: 3, 93-94.
Author of Book of Jewish Knowledge (1986) and Pictorial History of the Jewish People (1984).
This classic collection of more than 800 traditions, legends, parables, and songs, with a glossary of Yiddish and Hebrew words, has remained a favorite gift-giving item and a family treasure for decades. 12 pieces of sheet music.

19) Birch, David. The King's Chessboard (Picture Puffins). New York, 1993. e
The king of the title is an Indian potentate who receives a service from a wise man and insists on repaying the favor. The wise man finally requests the familiar mathematical puzzle of the chessboard, on whose first square is placed a single grain of rice, on whose second square is placed two grains, four on the third square, and so on. The king, who is too proud to admit that he can't calculate the sum total of the gift, foolishly grants the wish, at least until it becomes clear that it will wipe out his stock.

20) Carpenter, Frances. "Two Ways to Count to Ten." In African Wonder Tales. New York: Doubleday, rev. 2000.

21) Courlander, Harold. "The Hero of Adi Nifas." In The Fire on the Mountain and Other Ethiopian Stories. New York: 1950:45-49.
The Fire on the Mountain, and Other Stories from Ethiopia and Eritrea: And Other Stories from Ethiopia and Eritrea (An Owlet Book) (rev. 1995).

22) Edmonds, I. G. "Sissa and the Troublesome Trifles."In Trickster Tales. New York, 1996: 5-12.
With a moral of problem resolution by thinking and planning, it shows children that there are many ways of solving problems, sometimes even using the evil perpetrators negative disposition against them. The sources of the stories are India, northern Eskimos, Scotland, Turkey, Iran, Japan, Indo-China, Korea and Europe.

23) Elkin, Benjamin. Six Foolish Fishermen. Eau Claire, WI: 1962.
For pre-readers, the book has a nice repeating pattern that allows them to fill in the blanks if you pause while reading aloud. For begining readers the vocabulary is generally simple without being simplistic with a few challenging words to encourage them to expand their grasp. For all, the story has a nice surprising payoff and is enjoyable with many rereadings. I

Newer version:
Six Foolish Fishermen by Robert D. San Souci. (2000)
This familiar folktale is set in the Louisiana bayou country, giving it piquant kick. Jules, Jacques, Jean, Ti-Paul, Philippe, and Pierre love to fish from their pirogues. The narrative follows the typical pattern: when three bring poles and the other three bring bait, the friends can't figure out how any of them can fish, even when advised by a comfy-looking grandmaman. She also tries to help them out when three bring crawfish pies for breakfast and three bring coffee, and then gives up. After each man marks his pirogue so that he can find the fishing spot again, they all row to shore and count to make sure no one is missing. They only count five, and Pierre concludes that he was drowned and eaten by a gator—until his wife shows up to set things straight. Cajun dialect adds flavor, and the tale reads aloud well.

24) Geringer, Laura. A Three Hat Day (Reading Rainbow Book). Glenview, IL: HarperCollins Publishers, 1995.
R. R. Pottle the Third has a truly wonderful, extra-extraordinary collection of hats. But happiness eludes him. He is lonely and dreams of meeting a perfect wife ' who will, of course, be wearing a perfect hat. One day, a day so bad that R. R. Pottle wears not one, not two, but three hats at once, his dream comes true in the best possible way.
Notable Children's Books of 1985 (ALA) — A Reading Rainbow Featured Selection

Ginsberg, Mirra. Two Greedy Bears: Adapted From A Hungarian Folk Tale (Aladdin Picture Books). New York, 1976.
From School Library Journal
Two bear cubs set out to see the world, but all they do is argue until a clever fox sets them straight.

26) Ginsberg, Mirra. The twelve clever brothers and other fools: Folktales from Russia. New York, 1979.
Fourteen traditional folktales from the different peoples of Russia featuring both clever and silly fools.

27) Gilstrap, Robert and Irene Estabrook. "Ali and the Camels." In The Sultan's Fool and other North African Tales, New York, 1964: 10-17.

28) Hong, Lily Toy. Two of Everything: A Chinese Folktale. Illinois, 1993.
Digging in his garden, a poor farmer discovers an ancient brass pot. While carrying his find home, the man drops his purse, which he then tosses into the pot for safekeeping. At home, when his wife peers into the vessel she finds not one but two purses. The couple puts the magic pot to work, multiplying their remaining gold coins many times over. But their good fortune takes an unexpected turn when Mr. and Mrs. Haktak both manage to fall into the pot, and a clone of each of them appears. "Now even our troubles are beginning to double," the farmer observes wryly. How they make peace with their new lives will have youngsters, if not doubled up with laughter, at least genuinely amused, and wanting to reread this yarn--at least twice.

29) Hutchins, Pat. The Doorbell Rang. New York: Greenwillow Books, 1989.
When Ma gave Sam and Victoria a dozen cookies to share, they were delighted. Then the doorbell rang, and rang, and rang. As more children arrived, from various ethnic backgrounds, sharing required other division problems so everyone would have equal amounts. The final ring of the doorbell, however, brings good news. The female narrator reads this delightful cumulative tale by Pat Hutchins (Greenwillow, 1986) with a smile, and creates different voices for the various characters. A doorbell sound effect is used. One side of the tape includes page turn signals, while the other does not. Sound quality is excellent. This is a nice treatment for a popular book about sharing that deserves a place in every math/literacy collection.
Teresa Bateman, Brigadoon Elementary School, Federal Way, WA

30) Jagendorf, M.A. "Donkeys All." In Noodlehead Stories. Toronto: Copp Clark, 1957.

31) Leacock, Stephen. "A, B, and C -The Human Element In Mathematics." In Literary Lapses (New Canadian Library). (1989)
The humor, irony, and wit of Stephen Leacock have never been shown to better advantage than in Literary Lapses, his first collection of comic writings. Within its pages are such classic stories as the man who is seized by fear as he opens a bank account; the awful case of the young man who dies because he cannot tell a lie; the astonishing tale of the baby who ate thirteen Christmas dinners, and many other tales that have become part of the world's comic literature. When Literary Lapses first appeared in 1910, it was an instant critical and popular success. Within a few years of its publication, Leacock was acknowledged as the English-speaking world’s most beloved humourist.

32) Lowrey, Lawrence F. How tall was Milton? (His An I wonder why reader). Holt, Rinehart, Winston, 1969.

Myller, Rolf. How Big Is a Foot? New York, 1980.
The King wants to give the Queen something special for her birthday. The Queen has everything, everything except a bed. The trouble is that no one in the Kingdom knows the answer to a very important question: How Big is a Bed? because beds at the time had not yet been invented. The Queen's birthday is only a few days away. How can they figure out what size the bed should be?

Nahmad, H. M. "The Ape and the Two Cats." In The Peasant and the Donkey: Tales of the Near and Middle East. London, 1967: 33.

35) Nursery Rhymes: "As I Was Going to St Ives"; "One, Two, Buckle My Shoe"; "Thirty Days Hath September."
The Complete Mother Goose by Publications International. (2007)

36) Pittman, Helena Clare. A Grain of Rice. New York: Hastings House Publishers. 1986.
An original story set on the grounds and in the palace of the Emperor of China during the 15th Century. Pong Lo, the son of a farmer, kneels in the Emperor's court to ask for his majesty's daughter's hand in marriage. Employed as a storeroom worker, Pong Lo sets about to prove that he is "wise and quick and more than a little clever, and would make. . .as fine a prince as China has ever seen.'' Pittman invites readers into her story through her choice of concrete objects (e.g., the Imperial Storeroom), sensory images, and universal messages. She borrows from the motifs of oral literature, and also weaves in information about arithmetical progression and 15th-Century Chinese people, patterns, and traditions.

37) Paredes, Américo. "The Drovers Who Lost Their Feet." In Folktales of Mexico. Chicago, 1974.

38) Randolph, Vance. "Arithmetic on Bear Creek." In The Devil's Pretty Daughter and Other Ozark Folk Tales. Chicago, 1955: 102-103.

39) Sandberg, Carl. "Arithmetic." In Complete Poems, 1950.

40) Schwartz, Alvin. "All of Our Noses Are Here." In All of Our Noses Are Here and Other Noodle Tales (I Can Read Book). New York, 1985.
The noodle-headed Browns are back! And all of their noses are here, but clearly their wits are not.
Jane gets a donkey -- or does she? Grandpa misses the last ferryboat home. The Browns go on a rowboat trip, but have they all come back? Poor Sam falls out of a tree. And the whole family meets a nice new family in a mirror.
Oh, those silly Browns! Who could be funnier? And what could be better than five new noodle tales from Alvin Schwartz with Karen Ann Weinhaus's perfect pictures of these noodleheads in action?

41) Shannon, George. "Crossing the River." In Stories to Solve. New York, 1985: 11-13.
_____ "Dividing the Horses." In Stories to Solve. New York: Greenwillow Press, 1985: 45-47.
_____ "The Line." In Still More Stories to Solve. New York: Greenwillow Press, 1994: 10-12.
_____ "The New Prince." In More Stories to Solve: Fifteen Folktales from Around the World. New York, 1990: 11-14.

42) Tompert, Ann. Grandfather Tang's Story (Dragonfly Books). New York, 1990.
Here's a folktale with a twist: Tompert uses tangrams, a traditional "visual aid" employed by Chinese storytellers, to spin a tale about two shape-changing fox fairies. Seven "tans" (standard-sized pieces of a square) are arranged and rearranged to represent various characters in the story. The fox fairies vie to outdo each other--the first one becomes a rabbit, the other a dog who chases him, and so on--but when the two chase each other right into danger, they finally have to set their competition aside and pull together. Parker's graceful, impressionistic illustrations have a gentle Oriental flavor, and the constantly changing tangram configurations add a novel touch. A traceable tangram is provided at the end for do-it-yourselfers. Ages 3-7.

43) Walker, Barbara. "How Long Will It Take?" In Watermelons, Walnuts and the Wisdom of Allah: And Other Tales of the Hoca. New York, 1967: 60-61.
This is a sensitive, whimsical and accessibly deep look at Islam, the nature of life, the Turkish culture, and simple, transcendent morals. The humor, and the points of the fables are all gently made, with a great deal of charm and simple eloquence. One of my favorite books of all time. Great for anything from laughter, to learning about another culture, to simple and timeless morals, to an understanding of the common ground we share with Islam.

44) Weinreich, Uriel. "Seven Plus Seven Equal Eleven." In College Yiddish : An Introduction to the Yiddish Language and to Jewish Life and Culture. New York, 1987.
Each lesson is presented and structured in an extremely logical and coherent manner. The scope of "College Yiddish" covers the language so extensively that before you know it, you're able to read Yiddish books and newspapers without much effort. If you are a student of other foreign languages, you will be amazed at just how well this book was written. You'll wish that Uriel Weinreich had written books covering other languages as well.

45) Each Orange Had 8 Slices (Counting Books (Greenwillow Books)) by Paul Giganti and Donld Crews. (1999)
If each orange has 8 slices and each slice has 2 seeds, how many seeds are there in all? You'll have fun wether you multiply, add or count your way through the math puzzles hiding in the world all around you.

46) 12 Ways to Get to 11 (Aladdin Picture Books) by Eve Merriam. (1996 - Ages Babies to Pre-School)
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 __ 12 What happened to 11? Is it in the magician's hat? Maybe it's in the mailbox or hiding in the jack-o'-lantern? Don't forget to look in the barnyard where the hen awaits the arrival of her new little chicks. Could that be where eleven went? Eve Merriam and Bernie Karlin take young readers on a counting adventure as they demonstrate twelve witty and imaginative ways to get to eleven.

47) Sea Squares by Joy Hulme and Carol Schwartz. (1999 - Ages 4-8) This rhyming counting book about the sea is too dense to use as an introduction to numbers, and at times seems to get caught up in its own tongue-twisting technique. There's no game involved--such as finding a number of objects or watching the numerals bend or become something else. The point is to square the number: ``8 `octos' on the ocean floor/ Have scrambled legs, 64.''

48) One Hundred Hungry Ants by Elinor J. Pinczes and Bonnie MacKain. (1999 - Ages 4-8)
Hi dee ho! It's off to a picnic we go! One hundred very hungry ants hurry to sample the delights of a picnic, but marching in single file seems too slow for 100 empty tummies. The smallest ant of all suggests they travel in 2 rows of 50, four rows of 25 . . . and the division begins.

49) A Million Fish...More or Less by Patricia Mckissack. (1996 - Ages 4-8)
When a black youngster, Hugh Thomas, goes fishing one morning, Papa-Daddy and Elder Abbajon row up like specters out of the mist. They delight and amaze the boy with tall tales, told in the vernacular, of giant turkeys and snakes, mysterious lamps, and strange happenings on the bayou. When they leave, Hugh Thomas embarks on an outlandish adventure of his own. He catches a million fish (more or less), divides his catch with a grand-pere alligator, again with a pack of pirate raccoons, crows, and finally some trickster cats. When he finally reaches Papa-Daddy and the Elder's houseboat, he has only three fish left, and a tale that surpasses theirs.

50) The Art of Shapes: For Children and Adults by Margaret Steele and Cindy Estes. (1997 - Baby-Preschool)
A far cry from the dull art-history texts you dozed over in school, these whimsical board books use modern masterpieces---by Matisse, Lichtenstein, Warhol, and others---to introduce kids to colors, shapes, and parts of the body. Even the buttocks get their 15 minutes of fame in a David Hockney piece your preschooler is sure to find funny. The colorful trio provides a great simultaneous introduction to reading and the world of fine art. Who knows---they might even give the two of you something to talk about during your next museum trip.

51) A Remainder of One by Elinor J. Pinczes and Bonnie MacKain. (1995 - Ages 4-8)
Hup, two, three, four! We're in the 25th Army Corps. Queen's count! Two, three! We are the marching infantry! Poor Joe! He wants to march in the parade, but every time the lines are uneven, he must stand aside. What's a poor bug to do? Joe is determined. He studies the problem, relining the twenty-five bugs in his squadron from two lines to three lines to four lines, until inspiration and fortitude result in five lines of five -- and Joe fits in the last.

52) Counting on Frank by Rod Clement. (1994 - Ages 9-12)
A boy and his dog present amusing counting, size comparison, and mathematical facts.

53) Anno's Magic Seeds (Picture Books) by Mitsumasa Anno. (1999 - Ages 4-8)
A gift from a wizard makes Jack's fortune grow by ones and twos, then threes and fours, then faster and faster, challenging you to keep track of his riches.

54) The $1.00 Word Riddle Book by Marilyn Burns and Martha Weston. (1991 - Young Adult)

55) Is a Blue Whale the Biggest Thing There Is? by Robert E. Wells. (1993 - Agest 4-8)
This raffish primer on the meaning of "big" delivers a healthy, age-appropriate jolt to common assumptions about proportion and numbers. Beginning with a blue whale's flukes ("the 'flipper' parts of the tail, all by themselves bigger than most of Earth's creatures"), Wells projects the relative sizes of Mount Everest (20 giant jars filled with 100 blue whales each), the earth, the sun, the Milky Way, right out to the universe itself. Child-friendly watercolors show a bag of 100 planet earths dwarfed by the sun, and a crate of 100 "sun-sized oranges" inconsequential atop Antares, "a red supergiant star."

56) A Cloak For The Dreamer (Brainy Day Books) by Aileen Friedman and Kim Howard (illus). (1995 - Ages 6-9)
While teaching a little elementary geometry, this title in the Marilyn Burns Brainy Day series also offers a lesson about fitting square pegs in round holes. Ivan and Alex want to be tailors like their father, but youngest brother Misha dreams of travel. When each son must fashion a cloak for the archduke, Ivan sews one using rectangles of fabric. Alex makes a cloak of squares and an extra cloak of triangles. But Misha's disastrous cloak of circles demonstrates the geometrical concept that shapes must have angles to fit together. Seeing that Misha's heart lies elsewhere, the tailor frees his son to travel the world. As a farewell gift, the tailor presents Misha with the fateful cloak, whose circles he has snipped into snug-fitting hexagons and then restitched.

57) How Much Is a Million? 20th Anniversary Edition (Reading Rainbow Book) by David M. Schwartz and Steven Kellogg (illus). (2004 - Ages 4-8)
Marvelosissimo the Mathematical Magician demonstrates the meaning of a million by showing his four young friends (plus two cats, a dog, and a unicorn) that it would take twenty-three days to even count to a million and that a goldfish bowl large enough to hold a million goldfish could hold a whale. Seven pages are printed with tiny white stars on a grid pattern against a blue sky -- adding up to only one hundred thousand stars! And after that, a billion and a trillion are discussed, all with equally or even more outstanding examples; a trillion children standing on each other's shoulders would almost reach to the rings of Saturn.

58) The Warlord's Puzzle by Virginia Walton Pilegard (2000 - Ages 4-8)
When an artist bestows his gift of a blue tile on a warlord, he drops it, breaking it into seven pieces ("a parallelogram, a square, and five triangles"). As the warlord prepares to mete out "my worst punishment," the artist postpones his fate by suggesting a contest. The warlord proclaims that whoever puts the tile back together will receive a treasure and come to live in the palace. People eager to try their skill soon line the road to the palace gate; where wise men fail, a poor peasant's son quietly completes the puzzle. Pilegard punctuates her prose with colorful description (e.g., the tile is "the rare blue of a winter sky when dark storm clouds part"), but the boy's solution is anticlimactic, requiring little deductive reasoning ("He put the two large triangles together. They looked like his father's hat").

59) Nine-in-One, Grr! Grr! by Cathy Spagnoli. (1997 - Ages 4-8)
When Tiger inquires of the great god Shao how many cubs she will have, she is admonished that only if she remembers his reply--nine cubs each year--will it hold true. "Nine-in-one, Grr! Grr!" she sings as she heads home. The clever Eu bird wishes a more favorable tiger-to-bird ratio and so tricks Tiger into singing, instead, "One-in-nine, Grr! Grr!"--and that is why the earth is not overrun with tigers today. This imaginative folktale provides a rare window into the lore of the Hmong people of Laos, yet is anything but parochial or arcane in its appeal. It embraces a range of universal qualities, from loneliness to joyful anticipation to deviousness and guile, and portrays its characters with sympathy and wit. Hom's strikingly colorful paintings, modeled on the appliqued "story cloths" of the Hmong, ably capture a sense of character and landscape and extend the fable's whimsy and good humor.

60) Ruby Dee's retelling of Two Ways to Count to Ten: A Liberian Folktale is good for the entire elementary age group with audience participation.

61) I was asked several years ago to do just this same type of residency. When asked if I could do math stories I, of course, answered YES! (I lied.) Then spent the next several weeks putting together the residency plan. I have lesson plans for each grade level that I'd be happy to send you in an attachment, if you'd like. And the test scores DID increase!!!

What I did was take a lot of "normal" stories and turn them into math "problems." Like telling "The Crow & The Pitcher" (Aesop) provide a tall, thin, clear vase half filled with water. Students record their estimate of how many stones it would take to raise the water to the top. If discussion on the size of stones is not mentioned, don't bring it to their attention at this time. Collect stones from outside. After looking at the stones, ask if any would like to revise their estimate (don't erase original estimate). Place stones in the pitcher, with students recording the number used. Compare their estimate. How far off was their estimate? Whose original estimate was the closest? Whose revised estimate was the closest? Repeat the experiment using different sized stones. Make a graph showing the size of stones and how many were needed to raise the level to the top.

For creating math problems I use stories like "The Tailor," "The Turnip," "Too Much Noise," "The Very Hungry Caterpillar," "The Wolf & 7 Little Kids," "The Three Wishes," even "Jack Tales"! It's amazing how much math is in our folktales when you pay attention. Especially that magical number 3!!! I do use some of the same stories for various grade levels, varying the math required or difficulty involved.

I also have a fairly extensive Math Resources Bibliography I give to teachers. Here's some of my favorite math story resources that already contain a math element, just to get you started:

• Marilyn Burns - Math for Smarty Pants (1995) She also has Math And Literature, Grades K-1 (Math and Literature) (2004)) that shows how to "use children's literature to experience the wonder of mathematical problem solving"

• David J. Whitin and Sandra Wilde have two wonderful books: It's the Story that Counts: More Children's Books for Mathematical Learning, K-6 (1995) and Read Any Good Math Lately?: Children's Books for Mathematical Learning, K-6 (1992)
Ideas for using trade books in teaching math as well as bibliographies of books discovered by the authors since the earlier book appeared. The first half focuses on the experiences of teachers using books and stories to teach math, the responses of children to this approach, and the viewpoints of author David M. Schwartz and author/illustrator Tana Hoban, both interviewed here. The second half concerns the books themselves, discussed in thematic chapters concerning math topics not covered previously. Subject bibliographies are appended.

• Mitsumasa Anno's series of books is excellent. ("Anno's Counting House," "Anno's Hat Tricks," "Anno's Math Games," "Anno's Math Games II," "Anno's Math Games III," "Anno's Magic Seeds," "Anno's Mysterious Multiplying Jar," "The King's Flower").

• John Becker - Seven Little Rabbits (2007 - Ages 4-8)
“Seven little rabbits walkin’ down the road,
walking down the road to call on old friend toad.”
Over half a million children have counted their way to sleep with these beloved seven little rabbits.
Available in its original hardcover format for the first time in twenty years, this delightful first counting book, chock full of gloriously endearing illustrations and humorous asides by two-time Caldecott-Medal-winner Barbara Cooney, is sure to be a bedtime favorite for a new generation of bunny lovers. Just the right size for little hands, the repetition and rhyme invite reader participation—right up until the moment it lulls its unsuspecting audience into slumberland.

• Barbara Emberley - One Wide, River to Cross (1992 - Ages 4-8)
Woodcut illustrations and brief text from an American folk song relate the story of the animals on Noah's ark.

• Wanda Gag - Millions of Cats (Gift Edition) (Picture Puffin Books) (2006 - Ages 4-8)

This is a wonderful tale of vanity versus humility, written and illustrated by the singular Wanda Gag. An old man and his wife decide to get a cat, so the old man goes out in search of the prettiest cat of all. When he is forced to choose from "hundreds, thousands, millions and billions and trillions" of cats, he (naturally) brings them all home. When the wife points out their inability to support the legion of felines, it is left to the cats to decide who among them is the prettiest. Anyone who has ever owned more than a single cat can tell you what happens next.

• Ruth Krauss - The Carrot Seed Board Book (1993 - Baby-Preschool)
Ruth Krauss, author of A Hole Is to Dig, has crafted a story almost Zen-like in its simplicity. A little boy plants a carrot seed and waits patiently, tending to it carefully, while everyone around him insists that "it won't come up." His conviction is steadfast, however, and sure enough, a carrot worthy of first prize at any state fair springs forth from the earth. Krauss's husband, Crockett Johnson (creator of Harold and the Purple Crayon 50th Anniversary Edition (Purple Crayon Books)), illustrated The Carrot Seed, and while the little boy is rendered with uncomplicated lines, all of his hope, confidence, and serenity shine through. The image that resonates most strongly in this minimalist tale is the unfaltering faith of the mild-mannered little boy. Young readers learn that standing your ground in the face of opposition and doubt can often result in twice the reward expected (even thrice the reward, if judging by the girth of this carrot). (Ages 4 to 8)

• Julius Lester - How Many Spots Does a Leopard Have?: And Other Tales (1994 - Ages 9-12)
Lester ( To Be a Slave ), himself of African and Jewish ancestry, here recounts 12 folktales from African and Jewish traditions, which he has freely adapted to fit his "mouth and tongue." The combination of the two cultures works well; each story in this eclectic collection begs to be read aloud: "Long before time wound its watch and started ticking and chasing after tomorrow, which it can never catch up to, well, that was the time when Dog and Cat were friends." Lester's retellings are beguiling and graceful, his language attuned to each story's nuances. Shannon's striking paintings, in rich browns and greens, are as full of depth as the stories themselves. Particularly interesting are "The Wonderful Healing Leaves," a stirring tale of bravery handsomely rewarded, and "What Is the Most Important Part of the Body?," an African/Jewish tale in which a Queen and King learn what all storytellers must know: that they must use "their tongues for good. May we do the same."

• Charlotte Pomeratz - The Half-Birthday Party (1984 - Ages 4-8)
Daniel gives his six-month-old sister a half-birthday party, to which each guest is asked to bring half a present.

• Leonard Simon - The Day the Numbers Disappeared. (1963)

• Judith Viorst - Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday (1987 - Ages 4-8)
Last Sunday, Alexander's grandparents gave him a dollar -- and he was rich. There were so many things that he could do with all of that money! He could buy as much gum as he wanted, or even a walkie-talkie, if he saved enough. But somehow the money began to disappear...

• Jane Yolen - An invitation to the butterfly ball: A counting rhyme (1976 from Parents' Magazine Press)
It is a fun way to learn to count. The illustrations are enchanting, as well as the entire story involving all sorts of animals preparing for The Butterfly Ball.

• And my all time favorite! Jon Schieszka: Math Curse (1995 - Ages 4-8)
After telling the Math Curse, I tell the students they are under a math curse and they start finding math everywhere!!! I even had a group of 7th grade boys that took it upon themselves to figure out how many M&M's it would take to fill their classroom. Now that's math!!! Did you ever wake up to one of those days where everything is a problem? You have 10 things to do, but only 30 minutes till the bus leaves. Is there enough time? You have 3 shirts and 2 pairs of pants -- can you make 1 good outfit? Don't worry -- it's just the Math Curse striking! An amusing book about dealing with numbers in everyday life.

I forgot to mention, I also do a lot of math riddles like from Stories to Solve by George Shannon or "As I Was Going to St. Ives."

Why is a dollar smarter than a quarter? It has more cents.
Why is 10 afraid of 7? Because 7 8 9 (seven ate nine)
What animals are best in math? Rabbits, they multiply quickly
And I have a whole category of calculator riddles that can be solved by doing a math problem on the calculator, turning the calculator upside down, and there's the answer to the riddle. The older kids love this. And so do the math teachers!!!
Get out your calculators:
Message you send when you need help 101x 5 =
What is Little Bo Peeps name? 10 x 10 / 125 =
What's the worst thing for a little turtle to run out of?
200 x 75 + 469 x 50 x 100 + 514 =
If you drink 2 gallons of water, 2 liter coke, 2 quarts OJ, what would you do when you walk?
15,025 x 3 =

I've got about 50 of these!
And nope, not gonna give you the answers!

62) One of my pupils sent me this allegedly (!) Armenian version of a mathematical puzzler which someone (Tim Sheppard?) posted a few years ago set in a Scottish hotel.


a) This is the first story in the book 'The Man Who Counted' by Malba Tahan, pen name of Julio Cesar de Mello e Sousa, Brazillian mathematician who died in 1974. When we visited Taffy Thomas at his home in 2000, he told us a British version that starts with 17 sheep.

b) I think this is one of Martin Gardner's puzzles; many of his puzzles appeared in 'Scientific American'. I have a book by him, but can't find it at the moment.

Once upon a time, there lived a man in a little kingdom far away from here in his big piece of land with he three sons. He was a very rich man and he owned a herd of camels. Before he died, he told his sons, what they should do after his death: "When I have died, my oldest son, you will take half of my camels; my second son, you will take one third of them and you, my youngest son, you will take one ninth of my camels." A few days later the man died. After the burial, the three sons went back home and wanted to do what their father had told them. But when they had counted the camels, they noticed that the herd consisted of 17 camels. Of course, it was not possible to take one half, one third or even one ninth of 17. The three sons started a long argument, but they didn't find a solution. So they went to the King and they told him their problem. The King recognized that he wasn't able to solve it, so he called Pulu-Pughi to his castle. Pulu-Pughi was a wise man, respected all over the kingdom, especially for his fair decisions. Pulu-Pughi sent the three brothers back home and told them he would visit them in the following day. The next day, Pulu-Pughi came to the three brothers on his camel. The three brothers led him to their camels. Pulu-Pughi said: "Well, you have got 17 camels, don't you? Let's say that my camel is yours. You have now 18 camels. One half of 18 is nine, so the oldest son, you will get nine camels. One third of 18 is six, so the second son, you will get six camels. One ninth of 18 is two, so the youngest son, you will get two camels. Is that okay so far?" The three boys agreed. "Well" said Pulu-Pughi, "nine plus six plus two equals 17. So there is one camel left. Look at that camel, it's mine." And Pulu-Pughi climbed onto his camel and went away.

The books with stories to solve including the one with mules, etc. is by Shannon, George: Stories to Solve,
More Stories to Solve: Fifteen Folktales from Around the World, Still More Stories to Solve. Each book contains folktales from many different countries. The stories, as retold, all ask for the reader to answer a logic question.

64) Some of these may be elementary, but they are worth checking into:
is Marilyn Burns's web site. She is a teacher and advocate of literature and math. She has several books dealing with stories that I've used and loved.

Figures, Facts, & Fables: Telling Tales in Science and Math (Teacher to Teacher) by Barbara Lipke, Heinemann, 1996.
We all know that teachers who teach subject matter with enthusiasm and enjoyment are effective in what they do and that students who approach their learning with eager curiosity will be successful too. Storytelling is a way to make that happen. Stories inspire problem solving, imagination, and creativity. And when applied to science and math, stories make concepts more accessible and understandable-to students and teachers alike.

In this book, Barbara Lipke provides all the help teachers need to bring storytelling to elementary and middle school science and math instruction. A former classroom teacher and professional storyteller, Lipke presents a rationale for using stories, describing her own experiences in the classroom. Her book is packed with helpful advice on how to tell stories, how to teach storytelling to students, and how to apply storytelling to science and math. An extensive annotated bibliography of resources for storytelling, stories, and subject matter is provided, along with an appendix of original and traditional stories to tell and use as models.

Marvels of Math: Fascinating Reads and Awesome Activities by Kendall Haven, Englewood, CO, 1998.
Riveting stories and intriguing facts about the innovations and triumphs of mathematicians throughout history answer such questions as, When did the concept of zero originate? Who discovered negative numbers? and How were geometry or algebraic equations first created? Each story has a list of terms to learn, related discussion questions, and experiments and activities that demonstrate and amplify the story's mathematical theme.

Storytelling With Shapes & Numbers (Marsh, Valerie. Storytelling.) by Valerie Marsh, Ft. Atkinson, WI, 1999.
The author offers 21 stories that combine storytelling with paper cutting to teach numbers and shapes. Most of the simple, clear selections are original, though a few are derived from other sources. An introduction explains how to use the stories, which can be altered to suit the tellers' needs, and how to create original paper-cutting tales. The clear, reproducible patterns and easy-to-follow instructions enable anyone working with youngsters to use the technique for an interactive learning experience. Discussion questions, activities, and crafts enhance the concepts being taught.

Flatland/Sphereland (Everyday Handbook) by Edwin A. Abbott. It's a wonderful book - especially helpful with geometrical concepts!!! It is also a wonderful book about "classes" of people.

66) I suggest The Man Who Counted: A Collection of Mathematical Adventures by Malba Tahan.

Other possible titles include:

"I hate math! I couldn't learn it, and I can't teach it!".(effective math instruction): An article from: Childhood Education
This digital document is an article from Childhood Education, published by Association for Childhood Education International on June 22, 1999. The length of the article is 4461 words. The page length shown above is based on a typical 300-word page. The article is delivered in HTML format and is available in your Digital Locker immediately after purchase. You can view it with any web browser.

From the supplier: Success in learning and teaching mathematics is substantially conditioned by the student's or teacher's attitude. Fears of and actual frustration and failure have been identified with false assumptions of students' knowledge, incomplete instruction and inadequate real-world applications. Effective math instruction can be enhanced by increasing real-world applications, integrating projects and contests to generate more interest and immediate correction of student errors to ensure continuous learning.

Brown Paper School book: I Hate Mathematics! (Brown Paper School Books) by Marilyn Burns. (1975)
This book is for non-believers of all ages. It was written especially for children who have been convinced by the attitudes of adults that mathematics is (1) impossible (2) only for bright kids (3) no fun at all anyway. This book says that maths is nothing more than a way of looking at the world and that it can be relevant to everyday life (Street maths) and fun (How many sides does a banana have?). Hundreds of mathematical events, jokes, riddles, puzzles, investigations and experiments prove it!

The Number Devil: A Mathematical Adventure by Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Rotraut Susanne Berner (illus) and Michael Henry Heim (translator) (2000)
Young Robert's dreams have taken a decided turn for the weird. Instead of falling down holes and such, he's visiting a bizarre magical land of number tricks with the number devil as his host. Starting at one and adding zero and all the rest of the numbers, Robert and the number devil use giant furry calculators, piles of coconuts, and endlessly scrolling paper to introduce basic concepts of numeracy, from interesting number sequences to exponents to matrices. Author Hans Magnus Enzensberger's dry humor and sense of wonder will keep you and your kids entranced while you learn (shhh!) mathematical principles. Who could resist the little red guy who calls prime numbers "prima donnas," irrational numbers "unreasonable," and roots "rutabagas"? Not that the number devil is without his devilish qualities. He loses his temper when Robert looks for the easy way out of a number puzzle or dismisses math as boring and useless. "What do you expect?" he asks. "I'm the number devil, not Santa Claus." (Ages 10 to adult)

Fractals, Googols, and Other Mathematical Tales by Theoni Pappas. (1993)
Includes short stories and discussions which present such mathematical concepts as decimals, tangrams, number lines, and fractals.

Math Trek: Adventures in the Math Zone by Ivars Peterson and Nancy Henderson. (1999 - Ages 9-12)
There s a new amusement park in town. Come on in–and find out all the exciting ways you can have fun with math in everyday life. Wander through the fractal forest, take a ride on the M?obius-strip roller coaster, and get dizzy learning about how math makes the Tilt-A-Whirl possible. The more activities you try, the more youll learn how cool it can be to see the world through the eyes of a mathematician. Once youve sampled some of the interesting and unique projects in Math Trek, from untangling unknots to winning games with weird dice to figuring out secret codes, youll see that every trip to the MathZone is an exciting adventure!
Also: Math Trek 2: A Mathematical Space Odyssey by Ivars Peterson and Nancy Henderson.
Take a wild and Wonderful Voyage Through the Universe of Mathematics! Just imagine how much fun it would be to explore the fourth dimension! Play baseball on an asteroid! Ride an alien bike with square wheels! Let Math Trek 2 take you on an intergalactic excursion as you master dizzying mathematical concepts on your home planet of Earth! While playing games and solving puzzles, you can explore mind-boggling mental mysteries and investigate hidden patterns in the universe. From strange number sequences and bizarre buckyballs to random walks, you’ll be amazed at the mathematical concepts you’ll soon comprehend. So let Math Trek 2 take you on a fantastic space odyssey where you can look for a pi in the sky, get stuck in galactic gridlock, and sail away to the planet of the shapes!

Sir Cumference and the First Round Table: A Math Adventure by Cindy Neuschwander and Wayne Geehan (illus). (1997 - Ages 9-12)
When King Arthur and his knights get together, the table they have is so long that everyone has to shout to be heard. A rectangular table is too long and a triangular table is too pointy, but somehow they must sit down and discuss the shape of the future. Join a knight called Sir Cumference, his wife, Lady Di of Ameter, and their son Radius as they use different strategies to solve this quandary. Fanciful illustrations add to the merriment of learning math and will inspire young mathematicians.


Sir Cumference and the Isle of Immeter (Math Adventures) by Cindy Neuschwander and Wayne Geehan (illus). (2006 - Ages 9-12)
Sir Cumference returns in this tale that introduces readers to the concepts of perimeter and area. As in the previous books, Neuschwander's characters have names that play with mathematical terminology. In this adventure Per visits his uncle and aunt (Sir Cumference and Lady Di of Ameter). After learning a game involving inners and edges, she and her cousin Radius become embroiled in a mystery with a secret message and a threatening sea serpent. To solve it, the youngsters must travel to the Isle of Immeter and use a series of geometric formulas to tame the sea serpent and bring peace to the area. Readers already familiar with these formulas will have the most ease understanding and solving the mystery. Teachers introducing the concepts of perimeter and area might find the book useful. Libraries that own the four earlier books in the series will want to consider adding this latest adventure to their collections.

Sir Cumference and the Great Knight of Angleland: A Math Adventure (Sir Cumference) by Cindy Neuschwander and Wayne Geehan (illus). (2001 - Ages 9-12)
A third math adventure, Sir Cumference and the Great Knight of Angleland by Cindy Neuschwander, illus. by Wayne Geehan, chronicles Sir Cumference's son, Radius, in a quest to earn his knighthood by rescuing a king. The circular medallion (a protractor) given to Radius by his father and his mother, Lady Di of Ameter, aid him in examining every angle along the way; and readers get a circular medallion of their own with which to follow along.

Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi: A Math Adventure by Cindy Neuschwander and Wayne Geehan (illus). (1999 - Ages 4-8)
When Sir Cumference drinks a potion which turns him into a dragon, his son Radius searches for the magic number known as pi which will restore him to his former shape.

Sir Cumference and the Sword in the Cone: A Math Adventure by Cindy Neuschwander and Wayne Geehan (illus). (2003 - Ages 4-8)
Neuschwander retells "The Sword in the Stone" from a mathematical angle. Readers follow along with Sir Cumference and Lady Di of Ameter as their son Radius and his friend Vertex set out to find Edgecalibur. Filled with riddles and puns, the story is sure to delight students with some geometry background. Geehan's bright oil, acrylic, and pen-and-ink paintings include all the visual details that the text needs to help solve this geometrical mystery. If your students have enjoyed the first three books in the series, they will certainly want this one. Make sure to share these gems with your math teachers.

Sir Cumference and Little Daisy (Flippers) by John Ryan (illus). (1991)

Sir Cumference and Little Daisy and Sir Cumference and Clever Dick (Flippers) by John Ryan. (1990)

67) If you can find a book called The Mathematical Magpie, edited by Clifton Fadiman, there are all sorts of mathematically-related things therein, including Heinlein's "And He Built A Crooked House" (about a house built in the shape of an unfolded tesseract (hypercube) that folds up into itself...) -- along with poems, limericks, and so on. The companion volume to Fadiman's Fantasia Mathematica, this second anthology of mathematical writings is even more varied and contains stories, cartoons, essays, rhymes, music, anecdotes, aphorisms, and other oddments. Authors include Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Mark Twain, Lewis Carroll, and many other renowned figures.

68) Extensive webliography from Bruno Kevius
Fun with Math - Math Humor, Jokes and Mathematical Games and Recreations on the Internet

Mathematical Fiction - annotated
Hundreds of sources of stories, books, movies, etc. that involve mathematical concepts.
Created by Alex Kasman.

I did some research last night after sending out my request and thought I would share what I found. All of these stories below are found at

The One-Handed Girl
The Wonders of the Three Donals
The Twelve Brothers
The Twelve Dancing Princesses
The Twelve Dancing Princesses
The Twelve Huntsmen
The Twelve Months: a Slav Legend
The Twin Brothers
The Two Brothers
The Two Cakes
The Two Frogs The Two Goats
Two Hero-stories of the Civil War
Two in a Sack
Two Little Riddles in Rhyme
The Two Lizards
The Two Matches
Two Strange Sights
The Three Brothers (Lang, Yellow)
The Three Citrons The Three Crowns The Three Dogs
The Three Dwarfs
The Three Enchanted Princes
The Three Fish
The Three Heads of the Well
The Three Kings of Cologne
The Three Languages
The Three Little Pigs
The Three Musicians
The Three Princes and their Beasts
The Three Princesses of Connaught
The Three Princesses of Whittled
The Three Purses
The Three Robes
The Three Sillies
The Three Sisters
Three Snake Leaves
The Three Sons
The Three Treasures of the Giants
The Three Brothers
The Prince and the Three Fates
The Tailor and the Three Beasts
The Story of the Three Sons of Hall
The Story of Three Wonderful Beggars
Story of the Two Young Friends
The Four Clever Brothers
The Four Brothers or Inyanhoksila (Stone Boy)
The Four Oxen and the Lion
The Story of the Seven Simons
The Six Swans
The Six Sillies
The Six Hungry Beasts
The Seven-Headed Serpent
The Stones of Five Colors and the Empress Jokwa
The Ten Fairies

From another site:
"Why Anansi Has Eight Thin Legs"

I thought a cute story stretch if the audience is young enough would be "The Ants Go Marching" (one by one, two by two, etc.) I will add gestures to go along with the song.

Karen C. 5/6/07

71) My library system, like many others, is participating in the Collaborative Summer Reading Program this year, with the theme of Get a Clue! I am working on a program, Stories to Solve, More Stories to Solve: Fifteen Folktales from Around the World, Still More Stories to Solve to go with this theme. I have prepared a bibliography of folktales available in our library system to distribute at my programs.

The stories on the bibliography are stories like the ones I will be telling, not necessarily the same ones. Among the stories I plan to tell are "The Princess and the Ogre," a Natalie Babbitt story retold by Kaye Lindauer and an adaptation of "Peach Blossom," Fran Stalliings' paper cut-story, both from Joining In: An Anthology of Audience Participation Stories and How to Tell Them, ed by Teresa Miller. (I use the traditional "Clever Daughter-in-Law" story rather than Fran's original story, but I use the fold and cut props from Fran's version), "The Official Who Judged a Stone," (I learned this one on my trip to China) and other "Clever Magistrate" stories, also "The Blind Men and the Elephant," "Clever Manka," and others.

There are a couple of mathematical stories I am considering. One Grain Of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale is the story of how doubling a grain of rice every day becomes a fortune. Another, less well-known one that I am playing with is a literary story by E. Nesbit, "Melisande" in Nine Unlikely Tales for Children (1901). It is a mathematical puzzle tale in which the princess's hair grows an inch a day, and grows twice as fast each time it is cut.

One of the stories I want to tell is Fat Gopal. This is a story in which a court jester meets the challenge of finding out how large the earth is measured from top to bottom and side to side, how many stars are in the sky, how many rays in the sun, and how many men in the moon. He comes up with answers like, as many stars as there are feathers on five peacocks, as many rays of sun as hairs on two tigers, as many men in the moon as scales on ten snakes, and the earth is as large as eight bullock carts full of thread, tied end to end. The version I know is a picture book retelling by Jacqueline Singh, illustrated by Demi. I would like to find other versions of this story, especially from India. Does anyone know of any?

Vicky D. Hawaii 5/6/07


Yes, there is one in this excellent collection: Folktales from India (Pantheon Fairy Tale & Folklore Library) by A.K. Ramanujan 1991.

In his introduction, Ramanujan also has this pertinent remark which relates to that perennial discussion on copyright: "Every tale here is only one telling, held down in writing for the nonce till you or someone else reads it, brings it to life, and changes it by retelling it. These tales were handed down to me … consider me the latest teller and yourself the latest listener, who in turn will retell the tale."

Richard M. Germany 5/7/07

72) My husband, who is not a big reader, absolutely loved and was fascinated by The Man Who Counted: A Collection of Mathematical Adventures by Malba Tahan. Then there is Kendall Haven's Marvels of Math: Fascinating Reads and Awesome Activities. And Barbara Lipke's Figures, Facts, & Fables: Telling Tales in Science and Math (Teacher to Teacher). And for fun, Jon Scieszka & Lane Smith's Math Curse.

Linda P. 5/6/07

73) I think stories with math are a fun challenge. I offer a program called Pi in the Sky. It involves math problems to solve. Don't forget math can include simple additiion, subtraction, multiplication or division problems to solve. Mama Goat goes off to the store to buy personal pan pizzas for her 7 little kids. She discovers each pizza costs $5, how much money does Mama need? She reaches into her purse and finds a $20 bill; is that enough money? How much more does she need?
With Two of Everything: A Chinese Folktale we keep multiplying: 1 coin becomes 2, 2 coins become 4 .......... we sometimes go all the way to 4096 if the kids are excited by the challenge.
Math is $, volume, length, time, measurement, ordinal numbers, patterns. Lots of opportunities to insert a bit of problem solving in a story and then move on.
Works for the 'Get a Clue' theme too in some cases.
It's a fun challenge.

Sue B. 5/7/07

74) Don't forget that you don't have to limit yourself to number and counting. Mathematics also includes:
pattern recognition (both spatial and sequential)
problem solving
comparisons (bigger than, less than)

My favorite math tale is a very very brief one, which I found in Margaret Read MacDonald's Three-Minute Tales titled The Red Brick Temple.

A: How long will it take me to get to the red brick temple?
B: I don't know.
B: Twenty minutes.
A: Why are you saying twenty minutes? A minute ago you didn't know.
B: I needed to see how fast you were walking.

Tim E. 5/7/07

75) Query: I'm looking for bones and/or sources for two stories I heard mentioned in passing. A princess is offered to whichever suitor can solve a riddle (perhaps the princess herself set the riddle?). The riddle turns out to be mathematical, though most don't interpret it that way. The answer to the riddle is the number one (oops, I've ruined it for you!). The second is similar to the story about dividing the geese. A group of students or followers are given their teacher's camels when he dies and are also given specific instructions about how to divide them, instructions which seem impossible to follow. Anybody know either of these tales? Or any other fun math ones?

Renee E. 2/2/08


a) I recently did a math program at MIT and two of the fun stories I used were Two Ways to Count to Ten, a folktale from Libya, and One Grain of Rice. I know Sue B. does a great math program so perhaps she will give you a shout as well.

Karen C. 2/2/08

b) I believe this might be the "camel" story (or similar). A man has 17 camels. When he dies, the will specifies that one son will
receive 1/2 of the camels, one son will receive 1/3 and one son will receive 1/9. However, they run into a dilemma trying to solve the division.
They borrow a camel making the new total 18 camels.
One son takes 1/2 or 9 camels
One son takes 1/3 or 6 camels
One son takes 1/9 or 2 camels.
That leaves the borrowed camel, which is returned to its owner.

Dale P. 2/2/08

c) Math stories? Fun math stories? Every story you tell has the potential to become a math story. I use solving a math problem as part of the participatory aspect of the telling. Decide what you want to focus on, don't try to do too much, make it mental math, don't be afraid to put the problem solving focus on the older kids in the audience or the parents or the teachers as the math problem evolves. I usually focus on addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, time, money, fractions, patterns. of course not all in the same story. remember to keep it simple -- don't try to do too much.

For example:
"Boy Who Cried Wolf" -- boy wants to buy 5 pieces of licorice that cost $1, mama says "then you'll need a job", farmer has 50 sheep, will pay the boy $2/day for watching his sheep, watching sheep is a bit boring, boy starts to do the math, how many pieces of licorice can he buy? Watching sheep is a bit boring, boy starts to do the math, why stop at licorice which cost?$1 for the 5 pieces, why not get the $2 book he wants and the $5 harmonica and the $1 rose for mama. how much money does he need? how many days will he have to work?
watching sheep is boring, cries wolf
watching sheep is boring, cries wolf
wolf comes, carries 3 sheep away -- one for breakfast, one for lunch, one for dinner.
farmer counts how many sheep when the boy returns?
boy says "I'll do better tomorrow"
farmer says "you're fired"

"Magic Pot"
couple puts one coin in, twice as many come out. how many is that? 2
wife says "do it again!"
2 becomes 4, 4 becomes 8
wife says "do it again!"
everyone is shouting "do it again!" on my cue and everyone is doubling the coins. we often get to 4096 if I slow my narration down a bit and let them figure it out.
ending -- those two couples live happily ever after, having twice as much fun as they ever had before.

"Mama Goat and her Kids"
mama leaves house, secret knock so wolf doesn't trick his way in. I teach the kids the secret knock -- it is a pattern. it comes up again a few more times in the story.
mama has gone to the pizza parlor in town to get her little kids each a personal pan pizza. how many kids does mama have? 7. how many personal pan pizzas does mama need? 8 (one for her too!!).
mama reads the sign. each pizza costs $5. how much money does mama need? $40
mama reaches into her purse. brings out $10. is that enough? No. greater than or less than $40? how much more money does mama need?
mama reaches into her purse. brings out $10 more dollars, enough? than $5, etc. until she reaches $40.

"Frog and Locust"
drought in the land
frog's pond used to be 5 miles wide. drought has shrunk it to half that size. how wide is it now? drought continues. drought has shrunk it to half that size. how wide is it now?
same for leaves on Locust's bush. half as many, half as many
story continues

Remember -- just a little dab will do ya.
Teachers love it; kids love it.

Sue B. 2/2/08

d) Check out a book of math and logic stories called The Man Who Counted: A Collection of Mathematical Adventures by Malba Tahan [pen name of Brazilian mathematician, Julio Cesar de Mello y Sousa.] The 35 camels problem is in the first story. The fractions are 1/2, 1/3, and 1/9, Adding one camel to the herd makes it possible to come out without any fractional camels and two camels are left over - one to return to the traveler who 'gave' it to the 3 brothers and one more to pay the Man Who Counted for solving the problem. Starting with 35 instead of 17 [as we heard Taffy Thomas tell the sheep version in England] gives it more of a trickster tale ending, not just a puzzle solution.

Tom & Sandy F. 2/2/08

e) Thanks for your wonderful insights and examples of ways to find the math in ANY story! It's especially wonderful for showing kids that math exists in everyday things, not just in problem sets on paper.

Have you read Barbara Lipke's book Figures, Facts, & Fables: Telling Tales in Science and Math (Teacher to Teacher)? In addition to getting kids to use their counting and arithmetic skills in stories, she describes telling Three Bears then getting kids to ask questions about How heavy? How much porridge? How hot? etc. I think you and Barbara must be twins separated at birth...

I've wondered for a long time why our "math" stories don't get much above very elementary arithmetic. Maybe its because we're only invited to do "math stories" for elementary kids. Maybe its because we depend on folktales and The Folk didn't do much with percents or compound interest, let alone differential calculus.

I did meet a college math professor who said he used stories in his algebra and advanced geometry classes, but he never shared his list. Anybody out there know of some which would work?

Fran S. 2/3/08

f) My response to Fran's post is just an "addition" LAMOJ (laughing at my own joke). I'm putting together a study guide to go with our Stories 'n Stones: To Woodhenge and Beyond. There is so much math/science that could be extropolated from this. However, God gave all the math genes to my brother Chris. I was the problem child (oh, please stop me).
If there are some of you out there, who would like an upper-level math problem added to my study is your chance!! If you do this astrological feat, I will give you credit on the webpage and a link to your site.
If you are up to this science/math challenge, just email me and I'll send you the info I have so far on an attachment. The webpage is not even close to being completed. I keep dabbling at it. But, this goes into higher level thinking. The brain just ain't gonna go there. So whadya say, all you math types...are you up to it?

Marilyn K. 2/3/08

g) A new book of mathematical folktales published by Tulika Books of Chennai (India) called Mathematwist by T.V. Padma, latter part of 2007. Can't give you more details as I've packed my copy (moving to Australia mid-Feb)!

Kiran S. 2/3/08

Response to g) Many thanks!! This collection of math stories really does go beyond counting and basic arithmetic!
Amazon has never heard of the book but Google found it at the publisher's website

So I haven't seen the stories themselves, but the Teachers' Guide, which can be downloaded from
includes hints from which I could recognize about half the stories. I was pleased at the more advanced levels of math she could connect with them. This is just a 4pg draft of the Teachers' Guide; she is working on a longer version with lesson plans.

Now, how can we order this book from India? Is there an international distributor?

Fran S. 2/3/08

Response to above: I've ordered the book and hope it will arrive soon. You can order from India with your credit card, or, the author herself lives in RI and you can mail her a cheque and she'll ship it to you.
Here's her order form:
and her email:

Renee E. 2/3/08

h) Math abuse? A town sign in California says:
Population 562
Ft above sea level 2150
Established 1951
TOTAL 4663

1) Ask students, "Is there anything peculiar about this sign?"
2) (if they don't think it's perfectly fine) Ask students to make up their own Tall Tale Tallies.
This town sign was posted on "This is broken" website ages ago but I couldn't find it there any more. Checking whether the town in fact exists, I found a jpg of the sign at
-- captioned "Humorous sign in New Cuyama," implying it's not a dumb mistake.

BTW Wikipedia stats say the population has increased to 793.

Fran S. 2/4/08

i) BTW for US buyers, Padma Venkatraman's website offers the math book sent from her current home in Rhode Island. Some of her other books are available through Amazon or big distributor bookstores, but not the math book. I downloaded her order form and will send my check today!

Fran S. 2/4/08

j) Math Poem
Every lady in the land has 20 nails:
Upon each hand five, and twenty on hands and feet.
All this is true without deceit.
Dvora S. Israel 2/4/08

76) Query: I'm doing a Quilts and Stories session for a kindergarten class on Wednesday, February 13.  If there are no more snow days between then and now it will be the hundredth school day of the year.  Do any of you have suggestions for stories that would fit the theme?  I've already found a couple of lists of activities that mention particular storybooks.

Judy S. 2/3/08


a) 100 = another math opportunity!!
I just put together my playlist for the same program. Here it is, with my notes for adding 100 to each story. Email me if you need a bit more clarification. Also included at the bottom are my notes for Chinese New Year celebration
Celebration of 100th Day! 

Grades K – 2 

"Why Turtle has a Cracked Shell" (about 100 years ago, wished for 100 seconds of silence)

"Lazy Jack" (Jack, if I’ve told you once I’ve told you 100 times)
Break: ? 100 year old song – Take Me Out to the Ballgame
Exercising 100 times – 10 times each:
jumping jacks                 touching toes                  shrugs
one foot shakes               other foot shakes             head rolls
one foot hops                  other foot hops               claps
double arm stretches       two-hand shakes
one-hand shakes             other hand shakes                          
End with: 
** 100 seconds of silence **

"Boy Who Cried Wolf" (watched 100 sheep)

"Frog and Locust" (hadn’t rained in 100 days, then 100 more, then 100 more) 
? Joy with sign ?

Grades 3 – 5

"Blue Coyote" (100 crows/100 feathers)

" Two of Everything" to celebrate the Chinese New Year (Wife, we have more than 100 coins, that’s enough, we should stop.)
Break: ? 100 year old song
** 100 seconds of silence **

"Pumpkin Sparrow" (took 100 seeds; 100 pieces of gold, 100 diamonds, 100 emeralds)

"Frog and Locus"t (hadn’t rained in 100 days, then 100 more, then 100 more)

"All Things are Connected" (100 frogs / 100 mosquitoes became 1000, then 10,000, then more)
? Joy with sign ? (I teach the kids at the end of every program how to sing the chorus to Joy to the World. then I teach it to them in sign language. It is a great, quiet, way to end the program and hand them back to their teachers.)

Chinese New Year Kung Hei Fat Choi which loosely translates to "Congratulations and be prosperous". Often mistakenly assumed to be synonymous with "Happy new year"
Ni how ma? (How are you?)  
Hen hau.  (Very well)    
Tsai chien. (good bye)      
Dwa pu chi.   (I'm sorry)    
SheSheNe. (thank you)
Good luck
Opening windows and/or doors is considered to bring in the good luck of the new year.
Switching on the lights for the night is considered good luck to 'scare away' ghosts and spirits of misfortune that may compromise the luck and fortune of the new year.
Sweets are eaten to ensure the consumer a "sweet" year.
Clean the house from top to bottom
Wear red

Sue B. 2/3/08

b) "A, B, and C - the Human Element in Mathematics" by Stephen Leacock, found in Literary Lapses (New Canadian Library) is a funny story using elements of an algebra work problem.
And I just found it on line:

Speaking now as a retired math teacher, I really feel uncomfortable with the suggestions we have had about introducing math into traditional stories. Let the stories be! Don't superimpose the math questions. Make up some other stories if you want to work with word problems. I believe that "math stories" should be tales which illustrate mathematical concepts and not function as a vehicle for presenting math exercises.

Which stories am I referring to? I'll begin by quoting myself from an article on the subject which I wrote years ago for the Humanistic Mathematics Journal.
Six Foolish Fishermen (and its variants): one-to-one correspondence
Two Greedy Bears: Adapted From A Hungarian Folk Tale (Aladdin Picture Books) (and its variants): fractions
The Doorbell Rang: factors
"Two Ways to Count to Ten" (and its variants): multiples and factors from Stories to Solve

And so many stories in the Melba Tahan book, The Man Who Counted: A Collection of Mathematical Adventures.

Audrey K. 2/3/08

77) Many thanks to whoever mentioned Mathematwist some months ago on Storytell! I got a copy and have just written a review for Territory Tellers' newsletter (in press). It's the best example of math stories I have found yet--thank goodness!

"Mathematwist: Number Tales from Around the World" by Padma T. Venkatraman, Tulika Publishers (India), 2007; available from author . ISBN 978-81-8146-357-9

American storytellers have been at a loss when schools request math stories. At best we can scratch up a folktale about counting (and mis-counting) or doubling. It might have seemed that this dearth reflected a lack of mathematical sophistication in traditional folk culture--but Venkatraman's insights reveal that the lack may have been in our own understanding of math!

In this book she retells with a light touch ten stories we may recognize, but hadn't appreciated. Even simple tales like the fool who forgets to count his own donkey, or the amazing increases caused by doubling, take on deeper dimension with her notes about the evolution of number systems and the power of exponents. A Chinese legend reveals the "magic square," ancestor of Sudoku. The Jewish trickster tale about dividing a goose introduces the history of division and multiplication, traceable to Sanskrit manuscripts, while the dilemma of distributing inherited livestock warrants a discussion of factors and fractions. We recognize the story about filling a house/barn with something; she shows how to calculate volumes, then moves to the concept of density with the tale of Archimedes' "Eureka!" moment. Calculations of humongeous numbers, factorials, and some tricky number maneuvers follow stories that may be familiar--but DANG, who saw the relevance before?

Venkatraman brings a deep historical and multicultural insight to her notes and a novelist's flair to her tales. This slim paperback fills a long-felt need, and is highly recommended.

Reviewed by Fran S. 9/1/08

78) I just finished telling the story The Devil's Luck to a classroom group that hosts me every week in my school. When I finished, one child asked why there were so many 7s in the story and I explained that in certain cultures, that's an important number.

One staff member is African American and two children are Hmong, which led to some questions about important numbers in other cultural traditions. I understand the importance of 4 to many Native American cultures, but what are some others? Thanks!

Gwyn C. 1/21/10


a) In Japan it seems that doubled numbers (66, 77, 88 etc) have special value as landmarks, although I don't think they are thought to be magic.

Odd numbers of items are considered much more attractive than even numbers (cups, chopstick pairs etc come in sets of 5) and bilateral symmetry is not considered beautiful.

re taboo numbers: 4 (shi) and 7 (shichi) are avoided due to resemblance to "shinu" to die, and even have alternate names (yon, nanna respectively). Some old hotels skip 4 & 7 in numbering floors and rooms. Funeral parlors seek phone numbers like 44-4444.

Fran S. 1/212/10

b) So many folktales contain the number three:
Three wishes
Two older siblings and the third (younger) one who finally does the deed well
Count to three and something happens

Also there are threes found in religions:
Three Wise Men
The Trinity

Three parts to a story:
beginning, middle and end

Audrey K. 1/21/10

c) I've often noticed the magic number, "three" in many tales. And yes, I note that "3" has a fundamental attraction in literature and religion. (The teller of Jack stories I coach notes that virtually all those tales deal with three units. Three giants, three bulls, three brothers, etc.)

Here is one theory proposed in anthropology. Several indigenous cultures possess a very primitive form of math. They have a could concept of these numbers: one, two, and three. Anything beyond that is called "many". Margaret Mead once wrote about this. She suggested that it's possible for humans, even primitives, to conceptualize and visualize "oneness", "twoness" and "threeness". But numbers beyond that, numbers become more abstract and hard to "juggle."

That's why we created math, algebra and those pesky fractions..... !!!!
The need to deal with more than THREE.

The Trinity? I think that was a compromise by early Christians to reduce those hundreds of pagan and Greek and Norse gods down to three. So much easier to handle. And of course, they still try to explain that three is one.

Bill S. 1/22/10

d) It is a magic number in comedy too. Comedy routines use it all the time. Things came in threes. Repeating a name three times, e.g. "Judy, Judy, Judy...." has a humorous connotation. Learned this at workshops on comedy writing at FCM and other conferences. I now use it as much as I can.

In religious writings and traditions the number 7 is used a lot. It is "magical". The reason is that it is the highest prime number that can be on your two hands (10 fingers). That makes is special, but not funny.

Bob S. 1/22/10

e) Back in Theatre grad school, one of my colleagues wrote a thesis on the phenomena in Vaudeville. Problem was that he couldn't explain the "why". But he found it happening in hundreds of scripts and routines he reviewed. He has a weak ending to the thesis in which he suggested that audience's get the point by the third repetition. (As in the classic, "Slowly I Turn.... step by step") .... that the joke, the climax has been achieved.

Check out:

Note the "threeness"!

In religious writings and traditions the number 7 is used a lot. It is "magical". The reason is that it is the highest prime number that can be on your two hands (10 fingers). That makes is special, but not funny.

Yes, SEVEN. The seven virtues and the seven vices. A prime number, seven. But much too hard to remember. And therefore, not funny.

And that 10 thing? Ten Commandments? And the lessons don't even rhyme? Must have been a mathematician in Moses's tribe who tried so hard to make people behave well. I mean, who can keep track of all those rules? And which are the most important and the least? I mean if I don't commit adultery and don't kill, but sometimes swear or "dis" my parents.... am I going to heaven or hell?

Bill S. 1/22/10

f) 10 commandments. Remember, I think "The Life of Brian" maybe, Moses coming down, "I give you the 15..", drops one of the three tablets, "The 10 Commandments!" That was funny. BTW "3" tablets.

Bob S. 1/22/10

g) The letter "chai"...
Is the 18th letter...
In the Hebrew alphabet.
The word "chai"...
Also means life -
So the number 18...
Is a life-giving number...
In Judaism.

Rita (Reet) P. 1/22/10

h) 7 was a magic number to The Cherokee People. They had 7 clans ( families).

Gary (Grizzly) G. 1/22/10

i) But Native Americans preferred four . . . more sophisticated with numbers, or more connected to the earth and the four directions?

I was gently corrected on my version Grandmother Spider story for my Frog & Friends CD because I had unconsciously said that she threw her silk three times before attaching it to the receding sky. . . so glad the error was caught before I made 1000 copies.

Mary G. 1/22/10

j) Probably more related to the body. Front, back, right, and left. Doesn't work with 3 or 5, or any other number. Maybe 6 if you add up and down (Sky and earth).

Bob S. 1/22/10

k) Again, sorry for my tardiness, still trying to catch up. I tell a story from the Huichol culture, an Indian culture from the Lower Pecos region of Texas and down through Mexico. Their sacred number if 5. North, south, east, west and WITHIN. I really like that concept.

Shelby S. 1/24/10

l) I see two concepts in magic numbers; abstract numbers like 3 & 7 where things are fitted in (Trinity and creation, etc), and reference such as 4 (E W N S) or 5 adding within, etc.

Bob S. 1/24/10

79) The school district through which I have presented "storytelling workshops" in the past has informed me they want workshops this year that will help increase math test scores. I suggested a math-storytelling workshop. I have some ideas, but would love more.

Would appreciate ideas of stories that would be math-related . . . especially those that might help kids practice math skills and encourage higher-level math thinking. Thanks for the help you have provided in the past and for the ideas of the future.

Becky E. 8/11/10


a) This is a math test based on the story of Three Little Pigs. I shared this in a workshop I was giving for teachers and they loved it. A good base to use with other stories.

Here are some suggestions, shared by others on storytell through the years.
The Magic Pot
Two of Everything also known as The Magic Pot
Six Foolish Fishermen (and its variants): one-to-one correspondence
Two Greedy Bears: Adapted From A Hungarian Folk Tale (and its variants): fractions
The Doorbell Rang Big Book: factors
Dividing the Cheese
Two Ways to Count to Ten: A Liberian Folktale (and its variants): multiples and factors
And so many stories in the Melba Tahan book,
The Man Who Counted: A Collection of Mathematical Adventures.

Karen C. 8/11/10

b) You can also go to Jackie and my web site and click on "Searching this site" then search on "math" then search on "mathematics" . You'll get a number of hits.

Kate D. 8/11/10

c) As a former mathematics teacher I like stories which illustrate mathematical principles. Here are a few more to add to the list of those previously sent:

Six Foolish Fishermen (lots of variations around; illustrates one-to-one correspondence)
Arithmetic by Carl Sandberg
Watermelons, Walnuts and the Wisdom of Allah: And Other Tales of the Hoca by Barbara Walker
A Three Hat Day (VHS Cassette. Reading Rainbow VHS series, Hosted by LeVar Burton, 41) by Laura Geringer
One Grain Of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale by Demi
The King's Chessboard by David Birch

A fun story for algebra students:
A, B, and C-- the Human Element in Mathematics

Audrey K. 8/11/10

d) ...It is great to have some math stories--exactly what teachers, including Becky's client, want--but I also think that stories and storytelling exercise the calculating mind in a broader way. For the listener, a live storytelling set is the contemporaeous process of "solving" or "resolving" a story as you hear it. A good story satisfies that part of the mind that observes patterns, eliminates outcomes to narrow down a solution, calculates, organizes into sets...all math skills, when you get right down to it.

I've heard there is a relationship between students who do well in music and in math; is it because of having a basic rhythmic sense of 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4 that supports everything that comes later? I'm wondering if story-listening, as a complex language skill, is also important in mathematical functioning. I can see that possibility, but I'm not really very savvy about how math skills are articulated amongst the math-eratti.

Is this making sense to anyone? Is there a reason why storytelling is sometimes called "recounting?" I wonder if it is possible to define ways that storylistening stimulates fluency in math--stories and storytelling in general, not just stories with arithmetic in them. I think such a bit of text would be a neat thing to have! Anyone?

And, Audrey, what is that "A, B, and C--the Human Element in Mathematics?"

Mary Grace K. 8/11/10

e) A fabulous book you may want to look for is Mathematwist-Number Tales from Around the World by T.V.Padma, ISBN 978 81 8146 357 9 Publsher Tulika Books Chennai, India 2007.

Kiran S. 8/12//10

f) Do you know of current sources (other than the blessed Interlibrary Loan)?

Fran S. 8/12/10

RESPONSE to f) above:

1) Hi, Fran and all interested in Mathamatwist...

ABE has one used book available...

Here are new books:

From Amazon U.K.

Info about the book and author:

Teacher's Guide


Jackie B. 8/12/10

80) This is bibliography I compiled a while back. I believe I may have sent some of these titles already.

Burns, Marilyn. Spaghetti and Meatballs for All! New York: Scholastic Press. 1997.
Carpenter, Frances. "Two Ways to Count to Ten" in African Wonder Tales: 47-52. New York: Doubleday. 1963.
Courlander, Harold. "The Hero of Adi Nifas" in The Fire on the Mountain: 45-49. New York: Henry Holt. 1950.
Curcio, Francis R. and Myra Zarnowski. "Revisiting the Powers of 2" in Teaching Children Mathematics: 2:5 (January 1996): 304.
Demi. One Grain of Rice. New York: Scholastic Press. 1997.
Elkin, Benjamin. Six Foolish Fishermen. Eau Claire, WI: E.M. Hale and Company.
Gringer, Laura. A Three Hat Day. Glenview, IL: HarperCollins Pubishers. 1995.
Giganti, Paul. Each Orange Has 8 Slices: A Counting Book. New York: Greenwillow Books. 1992.
Ginsberg, Mirra. Two Greedy Bears. New York: Macmillan. 1976.
Hilstrap, Robert and Irene Estabrook. "Ali and the Camels" in North African Tales. New York: Henry Hold. 1958.
Hong, Lily Toy. Two of Everything. Illinois: A. Whitman. 1993.
Hutchins, Pat. The Doorbell Rang. New York: Greenwillow Books. 1989.
Jagendorf, M.A. "Donkeys All" in Noodlehead Stories From Around the World: 63-67. Toronto: Copp Clark. 1957.
Kirn, Ann. Nine in a Line. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. 1966.
Leacock, Stephen. "A, B, and C — The Human Elment in Mathematics" in Literary Lapses. Dodd, Mead & Co.
Leitze, Annette Ricks. "Connecting Process Problem Solving to Children's Literature" in Teaching Children Mathematics 3:7 (March 1997): 398-405.
Lowrey, Lawrence F. How Tall Was Milton? Holt, Rinehart, Winston. 1969.
Myller, Rolf. How Big Is a Foot? New York: Dell Publishing. 1980.
Nahmad, H.M. "The Ape and the Two Cat: in The Peasant and the Donkey: 34-40. London: Oxford University Press. 1967.
Nursery Rhymes: As I Was Going to St. Ives; One, Two, Buckle My Shoe; Thirty Days Hath September.
Paredes, Américo. "The Drovers Who Lost Their Feet" in Folktales of Mexico: 151. University of Chicago Press, 1970.
Pinces, Elinor J. One Hundred Hungry Ants. New York: Houghton Mifflin. 1993.
Phillips, Richard. Numbers, Facts, Figures and Fiction. Cambridge University Press. 1994.
Pierce, June. The Wonder Book of Counting Rhymes. New York: Wonder Books. 1957.
Pittman, Helena Clare. A Grain of Rice. New York: Hastings House Publishsers. 1986.
Quigley, Lillian. The Blind Men and the Elephant. New York: Charles Scribners Sons. 1959.
Randolph, Vance. "Arithmetic on Bear Creek" in The Devil's Pretty Daughter. Columbia University Press. 1955.
Sanderg, Carl. "Arithmetic" in Complete Poems. Harcourt, Brace and Co. 1950.
Schwartz, Alvin. "All of Our Noses Are Here" in All of Our Noses Are Here and Other Noodle Stories. New York: Harper & Row. 1985.
Shannon, George. "Crossing the River" in Stories to Solve: 11-12. New York: Greenwillow Press. 1985.
_______. "Dividing the Horses" in Stories to Solve: 45-47. New York: Greenwillow Press, 1985.
_______. "The Line" in Still More Stories to Solve: 10-12. New York: Greenwillow Press, 1990.
_______. "The New Prince" in More Stories to Solve: 11-14. New York: Greenwillow Press, 1990.
Tahan, Malba. The Man Who Counted. New York: W.W. Norton. 1993.
Tompert, Ann. Grandfather Tang's Story. New York: Crown Publishers. 1990.
Walker, Barbara. "How Long Will It Take?" in Watermelons, Walnuts and the Wisdom of Allah: 60-61. New York: Parents' Magazine Press, 1967.
Wolkstein, Diane. 8,000 Stones, A Chinese Folktale. Doubleday. 1972.
Weinrich, Uriel. "Seven Plus Seven Equal Eleven" in College Yiddish. New York: YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, Inc. 1987.
Young, Cindy and Wendy Maulding. "Mathematics and Mother Goose" in Teaching Children Mathematics. 1(1):36-38.

Audrey K. 1/29/11

81) After at least a month of postponements due to blizzards, flu, etc etc I finally had my first session with a 5th grade teacher who was willing to let me experiment with using stories to help her students in math & thinking skills.

She is a superlative teacher of math & science--therefore naturally the school assigned her the bottom of the four 5th grade groups, with all the "difficult" children who are working below average. However, she rather prefers them to some of the other 5th graders who are almost paralyzed (she says) by perfectionist standards and fear of failure. At any rate, I had a ball with them.

My warm-up activity was designed to get them thinking outside the box. "Old Woman and Her Pig", in addition to being very fun and silly (and well-suited to encouraging the kids to retell at home), lends itself to wondering how ELSE she might have gotten piggy to the other side of that fence. We got tunneling dogs and cooperative cows, trampolines and jet packs, mattresses and cranes, a condor, a trebuchet, etc. It was good practice in brainstorming without evaluation--that will come later. Teacher recorded the suggestions for later discussion, diagrams, etc.

Next I told the 17 camels story. Teacher was delighted that students readily figured the fractions (1/2, 1/3, 1/9) in their heads and worked so comfortably from this word problem instead of staring at her in incomprehension. They even anticipated that the "leftover" camel should be given back to the wise aunt who lent it towards solving the problem.

Because Measurement is a current curriculum subject, I next told them the true story of Oliver Smoot and the Mass Ave bridge over the Charles River at MIT. (Google it.) This laid the groundwork for a future activity of measuring bodyparts to see which can be used when a standard ruler is not available.

With a bit of time left at the end, I tried the puzzle of how a line can be made shorter without altering it. This brought lots of good suggestions, including one which fit the exact criteria: draw a longer line next to it.

Teacher was pleased that all students were very actively involved, including some who have already started down the Turned Off Coolth path. Some of the other 5th grade teachers peeked in jealously.

Schedules will prevent my going back for a couple weeks but I'm eager to see how this develops. I think meanngful math stories are the toughest ones to provide beyond the earliest grades (perhaps because few FOLK got very far in higher math?) Big thanks to Mathematwist for insights, and to Barbara Lipke for showing how we can find math/science inquiry in almost any story!!

Fran S. 2/28/11

82) So, in the evaluation phase, the kids may figure out that the jet pack won't work because the aerodynamic instability of a pig would cause it to tumble forward under that I ever designed a flying wing to airlift pigs or anything. That rumor is completely without merit, and the statute of limitations has expired anyway. It's not my fault that pigs can't land worth beans, even WITH roller skates...But I digress.

I love the idea behind this classroom experiment. Oddly enough, another listserv that I'm on, which is about graphic novels in the library, has been discussing alternate ways of teaching math and science. A writer named Jim Ottaviani has done some wonderful graphic volumes for kids and teens about different aspects of science. You might want to take a look at those, in case they give you some ideas.

Getting the condor to grab the pig and fly with it might work. Getting the condor to let go on the other side of the fence might be a bit of a challenge. Another one for the evaluation phase...but it fits thematically a bit better than the trampoline, I think.

Nick S. 2/28/11

83) It's a pity Larry Brown didn't tell his very logical and totally wacky When Pigs Fly story for you at the Chicken Festival. One of his best.

No worry about the condor's talons: the {profoundly deaf] girl who proposed it [via her excellent ASL interpreter, who doubled the students' fun in my stories] specified that the pig would ride ON the condor's back. Condor would convey pig to a tree, whence Woman could rescue it by ladder. Student had it all thought through.

The jet pack was to cushion the pig's landing, after being fired over the fence via trebuchet. Alternative for landing was the trampoline.

I was struck by the number of schemes requiring cooperation between characters: cow (inside field) strolls up to fence, woman places pig on cow's back then climbs over herself, retrieves pig. Or, woman climbs over and Butcher hands pig to her. And I was relieved at the relatively low level of mayhem for creating an opening in the fence: bulldozer, chain saw, or wire cutters (Oklahoma kids being familiar with "bobwar" fences). (BTW I end the story's chain with the butcher pretending to go along with the scheme "You want steaks, or hamburger?" and never include the hanging rope, rat, cat, etc etc)

Ottaviani's books might be handy for working with highschoolers, but I need material I can tell without illustrations, and that teachers can readily learn to retell.

Fran S. 2/28/11

84) Hmmm...a parachute would work much better with the trebuchet than the jet pack, and the horizontal vector makes a trampoline a bad idea, unless you have a whole string of them, even then, the odds of a high-speed ricocheting pig are quite high.

The pig riding "piggyback" on the condor was quite innovative. Of course, you would have to train the condor to accept the pigweight on its back AND train the pig to jump off to the treetop. Did I mention having to think way outside the box a lot as a kid? :-)
We had some really interesting science fair projects where I came from...

Some of Ottaviani's books would work with a much younger audience than high school, but yes, some of the stories would not be for beginners.

I wish Larry had told the When Pigs Fly story, for the simple reason that I know the members of a band with that name. They play great old-timey music out here in California.

Nick S. 2/28/11

85) FYI to those who use songs in their storytelling programs, including programs about math/science:
is a site reviewing albums and offering links to some really clever songs. I especially like "A Biologist's Mothers Day Song" and the "Hadron Supercollider Rap." There's no indication of whether our use of these would be hedged around by ASCAP/BMI, but they're certainly fun to listen to--and inspiring to our own songwriting efforts! Enjoy.

Meanwhile, Stillwater OK colleague Monty Harper
recently released a CD of very catchy "Songs From the Science Frontier" which features subjects currently studied by OSU researchers. Monty brings these scientists to monthly hands-on library programs for kids/families Monty's clever songs are very popular in library programs throughout this region. It's great to see his fans' response to cutting-edge science!

Fran S. 2/2/11

86) This morning I had another session with a class of fifth graders. Teacher wanted something about patterns and prequels, so I told two chain tales "Obedient George" (my take on "Lazy Jack"), "The Judgement of Karakush" and then Nancy Schimmel's "The New Woodcutter" (prequel to "Little Red Riding Hood").

George led us to discuss the importance of "Think first!" Don't presume you understand directions, it's not stupid to ask for clarification. Everybody could think of a parallel situation. Teacher may refer to this when they take state tests next month...

Karakush (NOT a wee tad story) invited discussion of what a "tyrant" is; of why Egypt would want to rebel against a tyrant who controls all three branches of government (the kids knew what those are! Hoorah!) as Karakush did; and of more satisfying endings for the story. (Traditional ending is an ironic miscarriage of "justice.") They suggested some good ones.

But where's the MATH connection?

We drew line graphs for all three stories: Interest/excitement as a function of Time. The formula tales have repeating lumps, getting higher as tension increases. "The New Woodcutter" doesn't resolve but seques into the next story, LRRH. Students compared and discussed the plot diagrams. Some of their alternate endings for Karakush loop the chain of blame back to the first character; we put that in the graph.

Teacher was thrilled--they had been discussing which forms of graphing fit what situations, and this exercise clearly showed how Line graphs work best for Time (vs Bar or Pie). She brought their language arts teacher to peek in while we were graphing, and she too was excited at a way of visualing episodes.

Yep, there's more to math stories than counting.

Fran S. 3/29/11

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