I’ve been curious about using math stories to teach Boobear different concepts. The idea just appeals to me, so when the Review Crew was offered the chance to review one of Ann McCallum’s math stories, I grabbed the chance. The book we received is called Beanstalk: The Measure of a Giant. You can find these books at Ann McCallum Books.
This book takes the story of Jack and the Beanstalk and turns it into a math story. Jack climbs the beanstalk, and ends up making a new friend who is five times his size. The book explores a variety of different math ideas. Ratios are explained in fun ways. Remember those problems in school where you needed to figure out tall something was based on its shadow? That’s in here too!
The book is well-made. This is not something that is going to fall apart on you after you read it a couple of times! (Can you tell that’s a pet peeve of mine?) The illustrations are lovely, and the story is one that Boobear was able to relate to, so the characters were already familiar.
In one part of the story, Jack mentions that he’s 48 inches tall. Boobear got a real kick out of that, because he’s also 48 inches tall! In another part of the story, Jack makes a giant checkerboard the right size for the giant to play checkers with him. Boobear loves checkers, so little things like this made it really easy for him to relate to the book.
I really liked how the explanations were done. Jack had to figure out how long a ladder for the giant should be so the giant could come visit Jack’s house. This is where he used shadows to figure out ratios. Like with every other math problem in the book, Jack doesn’t make a big deal of it. He draws pictures and does a bit of problem solving and boom! He’s got the answer. It makes it seem much more approachable, I think.
I think some children would learn really well from math stories like this, and this would be a great living book addition to any homeschool. If you add in some activities that reflect what the story is teaching, I think it could be quite effective as either a main part of your curriculum or as a great tool to use to break the monotony.