Sunday, April 14, 2013

Poetry A-Z: M is for Mathematical

My semester is winding down and I will miss my math class. This post is for my wonderful students.

MATHEMATICAL - of or relating to mathematics 

I'm a sucker for math poetry, and believe it or not, there's a lot of great stuff out there.
EDGAR ALLAN POE'S PIE: MATH PUZZLERS IN CLASSIC POEMS, written by J. Patrick Lewis and illustrated by Michael Slack, is a collection of cleverly disguised math problems in the form of rib-tickling parodies of classic poems. Can you guess the classic that inspired this poem?

Once upon a midnight rotten,
Cold, and rainy, I'd forgotten
All about the apple pie
Still cooling from the hour before.
I ignored the frightful stranger
Knocking, knocking . . . I, sleepwalking,
Pitter-pattered toward the pantry,
Took a knife from the kitchen drawer,
And screamed aloud, "How many cuts
Give me ten pieces?" through the door,
          The stranger bellowed, "Never four!"

Go ahead, draw a circle and give it a try! The answer can be found upside-down on the opposing page. (Look it up or figure it out because I'm not telling!) Mathematically you could use four cuts, however, the pieces would not be equal in size.

Here's one more to whet your appetite. Yes, it contains fractions, but be brave!
Edward Lear's Elephant with Hot Dog
Inspired by "There Was An Old Man With a Beard" by Edward Lear 
When an elephant sat down to order
A half of a third of a quarter
     Of an eighty-foot bun
     And a frankfurter, son
Was it longer than three feet, or shorter?
Arithme-Tickle: An Even Number of Odd-Riddle Rhymes, written by J. Patrick Lewis and illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz - These 18 rhyming riddles present word puzzles to be solved. Answers are written upside-down below each entry.

Mathematickles!, written by Betsy Franco and illustrated by Steven Salerno - This book offers brief poems using forms suggested by mathematical processes, all within a seasonal framework changing from fall to winter to spring to summer. As it says on the cover, "words + math + seasons = Mathematickles!"
One Leaf Rides the Wind, written by Celeste Davidson Mannis and illustrated by Susan Kathleen Hartung - This book is set in a Japanese garden where a young girl counts the things she sees, like bonsai, koi, and lotus flowers. The left side of each spread contains an illustration of the objects being counted. On the right side of each spread is the printed numeral, a haiku describing the objects, and a footnote introducing readers to various aspects of traditional Japanese culture.

Ten Times Better, written by Richard Michelson and illustrated by Leonard Baskin - This quirky book of poetry uses the idea of multiplying by 10 to present facts about various common and unusual animals.
Einstein, the Girl Who Hated Maths, written by John Agard and illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura - This is a book of fun and funny poems about the world of math. (This is from the UK, hence the word maths.) To get a feel for the poems in this book, listen to Agard read the poem Keeping Fit. One of my favorite poems, Triskaidekaphobia, is illustrated with a variation on Munch's The Scream!

Marvelous Math: A Book of Poems, collected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Karen Barbour - This collection of poems, by a variety of authors, looks at math in interesting ways, and allows students to see how math is useful in everyday life.

Counting Our Way to the 100th Day!, written by Betsy Franco and illustrated by Steven Salerno - In this book Franco offers up 100 poems that include the number 100 in some form.

Riddle-Iculous Math, written by Joan Holub and illustrated by Regan Dunnick - This very funny book contains verbal puns, riddles and rhymes based on math.

Math Talk: Mathematical Ideas in Poems for Two Voices by Theoni Pappas - Theoni Pappas has written a wide range of mathematical books, most of the them for secondary classrooms, but the dialogues in this book are appropriate for elementary kids.

Greg Tang has written a series of books that use rhyme and riddles to get kids thinking about creative problem-solving. Titles include:
Here is an example from Math-terpieces, a book that uses famous works of art to get kids thinking mathematically.

Peachy Keen
For Paul Cezanne, still lifes would do,
A cloth, a vase and peaches, too.
His planes of color, pure and bright,
So smartly capture form and light.
Can you make 10 with bowls of fruit?
Find all 5 ways if you're astute!

I wouldn't think of teaching basic math concepts without copies of Where The Sidewalk Ends and A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein. Some of my favorite math-related poems are:
  • Band-Aids
  • Hungry Mungry
  • One Inch Tall
  • Smart
  • Eight Balloons
  • Shapes

That's it for M. See you tomorrow with some L inspired poetry ponderings.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. I very much wish I'd know/seen/read this when I was teaching 4-5 grade math(s). I think the across-curriculum approach makes it all so much more meaningful and fun. I remember longing for word problems to be actual stories, and being ever disappointed because they were not; these might have assuaged the pain.