Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Children's Math Book Reviews: Money

In this category--money--I've noticed that I often underestimate the power of children's literature until sitting down with the book...and the CHILD. The child makes all the difference in the book's power. Perhaps with the concept of "money," it's because I so thoroughly understand it already; not until I take the time to read with a child do I understand how rich the content is when approached as new(er) material.

The first two selections are simple books using coin amounts under $1.

Bruce McMillan's Jelly Beans for Sale first establishes that one jellybean costs one cent. Text and color photographs then demonstrate a variety of coin combinations that equal amounts up to 25 cents. We practiced counting by fives and tens as well as counting coin amounts for numbers up to 25. Both children followed along, the 4yo counting jellybeans and the 7yo counting coins. A natural extension would be to follow this by "playing store." While it appears that this book is out-of-print (OOP), this link seems to have much cheaper copies.

The Coin Counting Book by Rozanne Lanczak Williams brings coin counting to a slightly more advanced level. Coin combinations total amounts up to $1. A few rhymes encourage kids to guess what's coming: "One penny, two opennies, three pennies, four. What will we get when we add just one more?" Children can think in terms of trading...how many nickels or dimes equal a quarter? A fifty cent piece? A dollar? My kids did a lot of counting by 5s and 10s. The last page pictures a wide assortment of coins. What total do you get? (We counted $3.)

The next two books provide practice with adding and subtracting money/decimals:

In Arthur's Funny Money by Lillian Hoban, Arthur decides to wash bikes to try to earn the remaining money he needs to buy a shirt and hat for his frisbee team. He learns that you must "spend money to make money" as he forks out cash for soap and other washing supplies. The text provides opportunities to add and subtract amounts under $5.

How the Second Grade Got $8,205.50 to Visit the Statue of Liberty tells of humorous, fictitious, class fundraising. Readers can keep track of expenses (such as $2 to "pay five younger brothers and sisters to borrow their wagons which had been our wagons in the first place") and profits ("no dollars and no cents" when the cat falls in the lemonade bucket) right along with the second grade. The tale takes a wild spin when a runaway vehicle from a class car wash inadvertently stops a bank robbery in progress. The reward money, or the promise of it, sends the class on a trip to New York.

Once Upon a Dime: A Math Adventure by Nancy Kelly Allen is one of our favorites. Farmer Worth grows a very strange tree. Each year, with different types of fertilizer, the tree grows different types of money: 100 pennies, 100 nickels, 100 dimes, 100 quarters, etc. ...even sprouting Chinese Yuan the year the tree is fertilized with Chinese panda patties from the zoo. It's fun to keep track of the value of each year's crops. After reading this book, my son later referred to one of his discoveries, "Remember, 100 nickels is $5!" Get a reader's theatre version of the book free on the author's website.

Later this week, I hope to report on some of the "Hello Math Readers" that we've read during our money lessons. I must confess...I think I've underestimated the value of these little books. We've really enjoyed them.

Tomorrow I'll post a simple, fun way to practice counting coins.

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