One of my favorite books is the New York Times Bestseller, The Grapes Of Math by Greg Tang. This hilarious and interactive tale invites students to think outside the box to tackle wacky math riddles.
Each page presents a math problem that requires addition. Each could be solved simply by counting the appropriate objects, but the point of each puzzle is to try and find a way to make the problem quicker and easier.
Using silly rhymes and engaging illustrations, kids are able to learn several helpful problem solving strategies, such as making ten to add more efficiently, looking for groups of numbers to skip count, subtracting to add, and more!
As Greg Tang explains in his introduction,
“The Grapes of Math teaches four important lessons in problem solving. The first is to be open minded. Children will learn to look beyond the obvious in search of smarter solutions. Second, they are encouraged to think strategically by finding convenient sums that make adding easier. Third, kids are taught to save time by using a variety of skills when solving problems, such as subtracting to add. Finally, children learn to organize information by identifying patterns and symmetries.”
This book is great for visual learners, or for students who like a challenge. Even after finding the right answer, I would encourage you to ask your child (or student) how they arrived at their answer (try to figure out how they saw the picture) and then ask them to figure out another way to solve it. This is a great way to have mathematical discussions and get kids used to explaining their thinking.
And if your kids love The Grapes Of Math as much as we do, they won’t want to stop once the book is finished! So I’ve created some problem solving pages with addition questions similar to the ones in the book!
This free download includes 8 pages of addition problems, as well as an answer key for each page. And although it does not include cute rhymes with helpful hints, hopefully your kids will have some good ideas and be ready to tackle these on their own after working through The Grapes Of Math!
And because these will be printouts that your kids can have (rather than a book), I hope you will encourage them to write on each page! It’s often helpful to circle groups of five or ten, or to circle the objects to subtract. Just be sure they are using pencil, so when you ask them to solve another way, they can erase and start again! 😉
I hope this proves to be a great source of FUN and engaging math learning, and gets your kids excited about exploring new problem solving strategies!
And if your kids enjoy this book and the practice pages, be sure to check out some of Greg Tang’s other books:
Math-terpieces: The Art of Problem-Solving (I especially love this one, because I love art history!)
Math Potatoes: Mind-stretching Brain Food (a little more challenging than The Grapes of Math)
And if you want to see this kind of problem solving play out with a more challenging question, check out this video of 6 year old Autumn solving a finite series problem!
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