Friday, October 11, 2019

This Math is For the Birds

Today's books play around with math. But before I get to them, I want to announce a fun costume contest - with PRIZES!

You can find rules for the contest here. Get creative! Have fun!
and now, for the books....

Don’t call these mathematicians “bird brains” – because they are busy solving problems.
theme: math, birds, imagination

Arithmechicks Add Up: A Math Story
by Ann Marie Stephens; illus. by Jia Liu
32 pages; ages 4-8
Boyds Mills Press, 2019

10 chicks head off to play.

Cheeping and chattering, they count rocks, flowers, and how many steps it takes to reach the park. Once there, they play – and add. With three chicks swinging high into the air, and six more at the lowest vertex of the arc, there are nine in all, swooshing through the air – while one holds up a scorecard so we can keep count.

What I like about this book: This is a great resource for teachers, homeschoolers, and parents who are looking for a fun way to introduce the idea of addition. Each spread shows a different way to add up the chicks – and back matter explains the different ways that you can use to represent addition. Most of us are familiar with basic equations and tally marks, but this book includes number bonds, counting on fingers (or feathers, depending on your species), number lines, and more.

Pigeon Math
by Asia Citro; illus. by Richard Watson
40 pages; ages 5-10
The Innovation Press, 2019

One bright and sunny morning, ten pigeons…

… well, there were ten pigeons sitting on the line until they got distracted by some bees – or maybe wasps – flying by. Still, some return to the line so the narrator continues the story. But this time he begins with four pigeons…

Wait! Pigeons are coming back! Now the narrator has to begin all over again. I’m sure the poor narrator has a story to tell, but with pigeons coming and going, will we ever get past the first line? Before pigeon bedtime? Meanwhile, there’s addition and subtraction happening all over the place.

What I like about this book: It’s funny, and fun to read out loud because every time you get settled and think the story will start there’s a …
           Hey! Wait! What do you think you’re doing?
….interruption. A great interactive read-aloud that offers plenty of opportunities to ask: how many flew away? How many came back? How many are there now?

Beyond the Books:

Make up your own story that involves some math – with or without birds. It could be about things you find outside, a tree losing its leaves, or anything that strikes your fancy. But definitely have some fun with it! Draw some pictures to go with it. Then share it with a friend.

Pigeons can count! Yes, scientists have really studied this, and counting might come in handy if you wanted to, for example, know how many eggs you had in your nest. Here’s an article about the pigeon study.

Birds can solve problems. You’ve probably heard about crows figuring out how to open containers or use hooks to get food. This National Geographic video shows a grackle solving problems.

Bird smarts are as much nature as nurture. Sure, your parents can teach you basic stuff like how to sing a tune. But city birds seem to learn more than their country cousins. Or maybe they just have more problems to deal with…

Today we're joining other book bloggers over at STEM Friday, where you can discover other cool STEM books. And we're joining Perfect Picture Book Friday, an event where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review copies provided by the publishers.


  1. Oh my gosh are these two books brimming with cleverness and cuteness! I'm adding them to my list.

    1. I think if there had been books like this when I was a kid, I would not have been so math-stressed.

  2. Love your post title and the choices.

  3. Both books are great shares. I especially love the first and will check it out for my grandson! And, I like the idea of a Stem costume contest -- great for Halloween too.

    1. Exactly, Patricia - the hope is kids might make them for their Halloween costume.

  4. What a fun set of books. The title is awesome and great way to incorporate the STEM competition.