Book Idea: The math in dots

by Mary Hynes-Berry

Melinda Chum is one of many teachers who have found great ways to do math with Donald Crews’ wonderful picture book 10 Black Dots. Children love going through the pages, exploring how 2 black dots form the eyes on a fox or 4 black dots can be seen as the tires on a vehicle.

Program participant Leandra Gonzalez at Lara Elementary Academy found she could extend the book to do an authentic assessment of how well children understood numerosity. After reading the book to her prekindergarten class, she invited small groups of children to decide how many dots they wanted to use to create their own picture and to dictate something about what they had created. Ms. Gonzalez had each group share their pictures to continue the good conversations.

She says, “When students were given the opportunity to create something and decide on their own how many dots they needed for their creation, I feel I got a true idea of their comprehension of the concept. I had the opportunity to hear them count, use number words, and apply quantity.”

Crews is not the only author to use the simple dot to bring numbers to life. Herve Tullet’s Press Here is an amusing commentary on how many young children have become proficient at pressing on computer screens to bring about some kind of change. The book uses instructions on one page such as “Five quick taps on the yellow dot” and so when the child turns the page, they see a line of 5 yellow dots! It’s the magic of the imagination. Here again, all kinds of learning fun can happen as children count taps, give shakes, and find the patterns. Inviting them to do their own variations on the book will extend the delight and the understanding even further.


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