Ants as a unit of measurement?

In Barner’s wonderful, Eric Carle–like collages, ants are 1 inch long (as represented with yellow-and-black rulers that run along the bottoms of some pages). The ants are compared to other insects (familiarly called “bugs”) in charts, graphs, and different presentations of data. Words and pictures are used to help young learners make size comparisons. As the ants create an amusement-park ride for the Blowout Bug Jamboree, they busily measure their friends: “Caterpillar is four ants long. Bee is two ants long. Ladybug is one ant long.” These size relationships are presented on a chart and then discussed in dialogue bubbles by the ants. For the youngest mathematicians, this repetition will reinforce the concept. Older kids in this age group or those readers who grasp new ideas quickly may get bored, but then new insects are introduced, and the illustrations in varied formats will keep viewers involved. A pie chart showing the number of insects that will attend the jamboree helps to answer the question: “How many of each kind of bug will come?” The answer is used by the industrious ants to construct their masterpiece, brilliantly rolled out in a gatefold at the end of the book: a Blowout Bug Jamboree Buggy-go-round! (Unfortunately, one ladybug seems to be missing.)

A quirky approach to math that should spur divergent thinking

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