The Cat, the Dog, Little Red, the Exploding Eggs, the Wolf, and Grandma

TheCatTheDogThe Cat tries to tell the Little Red Riding Hood story while the Dog, who loves superheroes, criticizes, adds his own thoughts, and questions the morality of the story. Lots of fun…very post-modern.

Diane and Christyan Fox, Scholastic Press, ©2014, 978-0-545 69481-0

Fairy Tale Poetry or Fairy Tale Slang

Working in pairs, ask students to write rhyming versions of the following list of 14 fairy tales. Just rhyming couplets is fine. It’s much easier for them to do than to write an original story in rhyme because they know the plot already.

Alternatively, the class could brainstorm slang expressions and words and write a slang version of the fairy tale. In either case, the object is to make amusing versions of all 14 of the stories:

  1. The Three Little Pig
  2. Snow White
  3. Cinderella
  4. Beauty and the Beast
  5. The Three Billy Goats Gruff
  6. The Gingerbread Man
  7. The Boy Who Cried Wolf
  8. Jack and the Beanstalk
  9. Little Red Riding Hood
  10. Goldilocks
  11. Rumpelstiltskin
  12. Rapunzel
  13. The Ugly Duckling
  14. Hansel and Gretel

The Favourite Fairy Tale Survey

Design a survey form to allow students to conduct a survey of students in the school to identify the top 3 fairy tales—or to rank them from most to least favourite. For math, students could construct a chart of their results.

For fun, students could carry random copies of each of the fairy tale or slang versions they and their classmates wrote, and give one as a “prize” to each survey participant. To add to the sense of adventure, save some of those miniature Halloween candies. Tell students who can find a partner with the same story to meet at by the front office to “meet the authors”, get their autographs, and receive a prize. Alternative prizes could be a juice bottle, or a free coupon for french fries, or a really cool bookmark.

Teach the students the “manners of conducting a survey”: “May I have a few moments of your time for a simple survey about favourite fairy tales? The results of the survey will be announced over the PA in two days.” Record the results in the correct column. “Thank you very much. Here is a randomly chosen fairy tale for you to read. If you can find someone else who got the same fairy tale, go together to the Principal’s Office and have your versions signed by the authors, and receive a candy prize.”

For 9 creative writing ideas, click The Cat, the Dog, Little Red, the Exploding Eggs, the Wolf, and Grandma to download.

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Help Me, Mr. Mutt!

help-me-mr-muttMr. Mutt is the Ann Landers of dogs. Six dogs write in with their problems, and receive answers from Mr. Mutt, along with critiques from The Queen (a cat with a point of view. Answers are accompanied by cute graphs, useful for teaching graphing to students. It also closes with two newspaper articles as the cats attack Mr. Mutt.

Janet Stevens, Harcourt Books, 2008, ISBN 978-0-15-204628-6

We’re Off Exploring

It might be fun in a Social Studies unit for students to write an “Agony Aunt” column for crew members that are with an explorer:

  • Henry Hudson’s crew
  • Columbus’ crew
  • Cartier’s crew
  • Cabot’s crew, etc.

Students would need to research and incorporate the kinds of typical problems an explorer might encounter, as well an including details for the specific trip of that explorer (where are they, what is happening, the date?). The advice, on the other hand, need not be practical if you wanted to include a humourous element in the writing.

The Queen’s Advice

The Queen comments on Mutt’s advice each time, especially when she feels insulted by his remarks. On the back cover she advertises herself in the newspaper, “Do you have Dog Problems? Write to The Queen, the expert for cats, 9 Palace Place, The Catskills, NY.

Ask students to brainstorm the kinds of issues a cat might have—try to ensure each group has a cat owner in it. They may come up with: being overweight, eating foods you don’t like, going for a walk, not liking to get wet, licking yourself, dressing up, scratching furniture, walking around at night, going to the vet, interrupted sleeping in the daytime, walking over the owner’s newspaper, refusing to do tricks, hairballs, etc.

At this point they divide up the list, choosing one to write on as a “Letter to the Queen” of about 50-75 words. Students then pair up, exchange letters, and write The Queen’s Advice…remembering to stay in character as a snooty supercilious cat. The answers can be from 75-100 words. Collect. Read out some letters to the Queen. Ask the class, “What advice do you think should be given?” Then read out the actual advice given.

For 9 creative writing ideas, click Help Me, Mr. Mutt! to download.

The Lion’s Share

The Lion's ShareThe ant is invited to the lion’s dinner party and is shocked at the manners of the other guests as they greedily “share” the cake. When she herself is accused of being greedy, the ant turns the tables on the other guests.

McCelligott’s Math

On his website, McCelligott has an interesting step-by-step explanation of geometric progression, which is what this book represents. It culminates in explaining why we get I-POD in 2,4,8,16, or 32 GB and not other numbers. For your older students.

Math – Geometric Progression

Geometric ProgressionGive students a list of the animals and ask them to create a chart of the values in each division of the cake. Walk them through the first three, then explore the math pattern for solving the rest of progression and the equivalencies.

For 9 creative writing ideas, click The Lion’s Share to download.

The Librarian Who Measured the Earth

librarian-who-measured-cover jpgThe biography of the ancient Greek mathematician and librarian who measured the circumference of the earth, with an error of only 200 miles, at a time when people didn’t even know for sure the earth was round, using math alone.

Kathy Lasky, Little Brown and co., ©2004, ISBN 0-316-51526-4

Ancient Libraries

The Library at Alexandria was the greatest library on earth for over 1000 years. There were over 700,000 rolls of papyrus in their collection of “books.” You couldn’t take a book out, so a librarian would help you find the scroll you had in mind.

For Rapid Research (click for PDF) it would be great for students to find out everything they can about the following libraries or book collections and write their own “book” of 200-400 words:

  1. The Library at Alexandria
  2. The House of Wisdom
  3. The Library at Ephesus
  4. The Library at Constantinople
  5. The Burning of the Mayan Books
  6. Hitler’s Book Burning
  7. The Cordoba Library – Library of Al-Hakam III

 

Look Like a Math Genius – The 11 X Table

Teach students how to multiply a two-digit number, in their head, faster than a calculator.

43 x 11 = ???

Answer:

  • The first number is 4
  • The last number is 3
  • The middle is their sum = 7
  • The answer is 473

Tell them to say it slowly, to impress their friends.

For 8 creative writing ideas, click The Librarian who Measured the Earth to download.

Jerry Seinfeld Halloween

Jerry Seinfeld Halloween, coverThis is a picture book version of Jerry Seinfeld’s wonderful routine on what Halloween was like to him as a child.

Jerry Seinfeld, Little Brown, ©2002, ISBN 0-316-70625-6

The Candy Forced Choice

Create four signs – Strongly Agree, Strongly Disagree, Agree, Disagree. Tape on the four walls of the class. Ask a series of candy related questions and have students pre-decide before going and standing under the sign for their opinion. Students under that sign should first discuss their opinion with a partner. Then you conduct a class discussion.

Ask the students in the AGREE or DISAGREE categories first – students tend to gravitate there thinking they may avoid talking – and since this is oral language, we want everyone “in” the game.

Possible questions:

  1. Candy is better than peanuts.
  2. O’Henry is better than Smarties.
  3. Children should not be given any candy under the age of 4.
  4. Parents whose children have cavities are abusive and should be fined.
  5. If there is no real chocolate in the bar, any words that sound “chocolatey” should not be allowed.
  6. Deciding what to eat is a decision for parents.

 

 

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 11.51.24 AMThe Candy Vote

Around Halloween is a good time to conduct a survey. Obtain 5 different miniature candies – maybe asking students for suggestions first. Create a large chart with 5 columns, pasting a candy on each one. Explain to students the various factors that can affect a survey. (See the attached pages for an explanation of potential biases, and a possible survey). If conducting the survey, ask students to work in pairs to survey 10 students from other classes. If you have a class of 30 this would mean 150 student surveys. Here is an opportunity to ensure they understand how to calculate a percent from raw numbers. To make it easier, for younger students, ensure that only 100 surveys are conducted…results are then automatically in percentages.

For 7 creative writing ideas, click Seinfeld’s Halloween to download.

Blockhead – The Life of Fibonacci

BlockheadFibonacci was part of the revolutionary change from Roman numerals to Arabic numerals in the 12th century. His most important contribution to math is the Fibonacci sequence, which this book explains.

Joseph D’Agnesi, Henry Holt, 2010, ISBN 978-0-8050-6305-9

Fibonacci Numbers

If you add any two consecutive numbers in the pattern you get the next number:

  • 1 pair plus 1 pair = 2 pairs
  • 1 pair plus 2 pairs = 3 pairs
  • 2 pairs plus 3 pairs = 5 pairs
  • 3 pairs plus 5 pairs = 8 pairs

The first numbers are 1,2,3,5,8,13,21,55,89,144,233,377.

Pages 26 and 27 explain the Fibonacci numbers…demonstrate to 8 and ask them to continue until they get to 233.

blockheadphotoAstonishingly, nature uses these numbers all the time…in flower petals, seeds inside, starfish, 3 leaf clovers, 8 sections in a lemon, etc. Even humans have 1 head, 2 eyes, 5 fingers, etc.

Roman Numerals

The book mentions that, in Egypt, Fibonacci encountered Arabic Numerals and thought how much simpler they were than his Roman numerals – making it a good time to introduce them. (Actually, the numbers are from India, but the west encountered them in the Arab countries and so called them Arabic numerals.) Lots of sites have activity sheets, but a good site for an explanation is Adrian Bruce’s Maths Stuff. Roman numerals, it reminds us, may be found on watches, old buildings, page numbers in a preface, as subsections in a list on Microsoft Word, titles of kings and queens, periods of Egyptian history, and at the end of Hollywood movies, comics, and games to show the year it was made.

For 8 creative writing ideas, click Blockhead to download.