Friday, February 24, 2017
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A hot air balloon in flight at the Mid-Hudson Valley balloon festival along the Hudson River in Poughkeepsie, New York (Photo credit: Wikipedia) One of the best things about Robert E. Wells’ book, “Can You Count to a Googol?” is that he takes you through the build-up of numbers slowly. Both author and illustrator, he shows you a whimsical imagining of 1, inviting readers to see themselves with one banana balancing on their nose. By the time you get to 100 bananas balancing on 10 monkeys, you have slipped quietly into the understanding that adding zeros adds places in a number and multiplying... (Read More ...)

Readers know the classic book for reading your grandchildren to sleep, “Goodnight, Moon.” A new classic has been introduced, “Can I Just Take a Nap?” A bowl of Cheerios (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Ron Rauss, architect, poet and first-time children’s book author, decided to enter a contest in 2010 that Cheerios hosts every year for new children’s book authors. He won, beating out more than 8,000 entries. Simon and Schuster published his book and General Mills, owner of Cheerios cereal, put a small, paperback version in three million boxes of Cheerios. Now, it’s out in hardback. Although... (Read More ...)

This is a story about a girl who spills all the buttons in Grandma’s button box while Grandma is out taking her morning walk. Spanish metal button circa 1650-1675, 12mm diameter. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) She loves Grandma’s button box because Grandma tells a story about each button. There are buttons from Grandma’s wedding dress, her own baby sweater. Lost buttons that turned up in the doghouse, the fishbowl, the gerbil’s cage. Buttons from everyone in the family – Grandpa’s suspenders, her brother’s tuba recital. She and her brother and sister looked all over to find all the buttons... (Read More ...)

Author Cindy Neuschwander, an elementary and high school math teacher, decided there weren’t enough storybooks about math for children. So, she started writing her own and now has eight published. She is now a third-grade teacher. All Giza Pyramids in one shot. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Mummy Math: An Adventure in Geometry, uses the theme of Egyptian pyramids to introduce solid shapes. Though children don’t quite realize it, they are learning that some of the characteristics of solid shapes are the number of sides, or faces, they have, and the number of edges and corners, or vertices. To children... (Read More ...)

Pumpkins, photographed in Canada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Last summer, my grandson took some of the money he’d earned from cleaning off shelves for me and we went to the bookstore so he could buy a book of his own. He looked through biographies and fiction, then picked a Math workbook. This shocked the bookstore clerk, who could barely contain her delight when he put the book up on the counter and brought out his own money. He asked his grandfather to read the exercises to him while they did the math problems together. His mother, of course, an accountant, approved when she heard the story. My... (Read More ...)

It starts out like a remake of the story of Rumpelstiltskin, ten years later. Rumpelstiltskin from The Blue Fairy Book, by Henry J. Ford (Photo credit: Wikipedia) But, Rumpelstiltskin now exercises a different power from the one he used last time to spin straw into gold. He can multiply things at will. By the time you are drawn into the story of how he does this, you have been practicing multiplication for pages. And, further, you have been introduced to the very different skill of multiplying by fractions and the fact that numbers go down when you do this, not up. Perhaps it is no surprise that... (Read More ...)

Just in time for Thanksgiving! Not that you’re having spaghetti and meatballs for Thanksgiving, but because you’re likely to have lots of people sitting around the table. Spaghetti with meatballs and tomato sauce (Photo credit: naotakem) Have you ever thought about letting your children figure out the seating arrangement, how many at each table, combining and rearranging card tables that seat four when you overflow the dining room table? That’s what the children’s story book, “Spaghetti and Meatballs for All! A Mathematical  Story” is all about – adding, subtracting, multiplying... (Read More ...)

Many of the science experiments in my blog originated with the Steve Spangler science for kids site, so you can imagine my delight when I was browsing the kids’ section of my local bookstore with my grandson and spotted Spangler’s book, Naked Eggs and Flying Potatoes. Diet Coke and Mentos geyser. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) I haven’t had success with all of Spangler’s experiments – I tried the Naked Eggs, for instance, and, though it works, I had the reaction of “OK, that’s nice. So, what?” For this reason, I didn’t write it up as an activity to do with your grandchildren, but I... (Read More ...)

If you were a creative artist and decided to paint dozens of old bicycles white and make a fence around your yard with them, at what point would you realize this is a great theme for a children’s book? Bicycle fence. (Photo credit: bestbib&tucker) Sculptor and landscape designer, Tom Noll, in Washington, DC, just wrote his first children’s book around the theme of recycling, called The Bicycle Fence. Based on his decade-long white bicycle fence project in Manassas, Virginia, which he famously decorated for holidays and various occasions, Noll’s book introduces children to... (Read More ...)

Written and illustrated by Ian Falconer, Olivia is the first in a series of children’s books, published in 2000. The Class of Dance by Edgar Degas (1874) (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Falconer, who lives in New York City, also designs costumes for the New York City Ballet and the Royal Opera House and covers for The New Yorker magazine, and this background comes through in the fanciful costumes Olivia wears. Olivia is a story about a sweet little, active and creative pig. She has a little brother and a cat. She takes naps and negotiates the number of bedtime stories she will get. She goes to the... (Read More ...)