Friday, March 27, 2009

Poetry Across The Curriculum: Mathematickles!

Franco, Betsy. 2003. Mathematickles!. Illus. by Steven Salerno. NY: Margaret K. McElderry Books. ISBN: 0689843577.

Through a combination of seasons and math, poetic math problems will tease the brains of readers young and old.

In this fun yet educational collection, Franco’s simple, free verse poems are creatively presented in various math problems that range from the easy addition, subtraction, multiplication, division to graphs. Following a young girl and her cat, readers are taken through the concepts of math, language arts, and the four seasons.

The poems are short, no more than eight words in all,. Through the use of the mathematical format the essence of the poem is easily understood and appreciated. Through the combination of formats, poetry and math, the readers are engaged in multiple subjects at ones. Some of the poems are easier to understand the answer while other ones can be thought provoking as they present a new way of thinking of a season, like:

– harvest
earth’s naptime

as well as ways you think of other things like exploring during the season like:

ice puddle + snow boot = creakgroanCRACK!

Even through the simplicity of the poems and the aspect of mathematics, there is still the wonderful element of imagery still is part of the overall book. For beautiful poem is:

x leaves
pearls on green plates


maple leaves + puddle = crimson ships

Through such imagery the readers are seeing how math and language can be combined to create something fun as well as beautiful.

Salerno’s colorful gauche illustrations range from single page with one or more poems to two page spreads with several season related poems throughout. The illustrations are artistically and whimsically painted as they present the four different seasons, the animals, the nature, and even the girl and her cat. One of the best aspects of the illustrations as it provides a visualization of the answers to the poems such as when the poem

coldair -:- breath = tiny cloud

the illustrations show the girl walking through a wintry scene and we can see her breath. Or, as another example there is

squirrels + ___________ = winter storage

(answer: acorns) [the answer is presented upside down]

and the illustrations show tall trees with holes where the squirrels have hidden all of their acorns. Providing a visual of the poems’ subjects creates a way for readers who are still gaining understanding of the math concepts but can begin to figure out the answers by looking at the illustrations.

The mathematical poems, as well as the colorful illustrations, are a fun and creative way to gain understanding of both math and the seasons. Readers of all ages will have fun reading and figuring out the poems. Pair with seasonal, science, or math poetry and picture books as well as with textbooks, Mathematickles! is perfect for enhancing the education of students all the while having fun!

*Continue to enhance math with poetry books like Arithme-Tickle: An Even Number of Odd Riddle-Rhymes by J. Patrick Lewis and Illus. by Frank Remkiewiz.
*Expand and enhance science with poetry books like Spectacular Science: A Book of Poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and Illus. by Virginia Halstead.

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