The Thirteen Days of Halloween: Using Children's Literature to Differentiate Instruction in the Mathematics Classroom

By Forbringer, Linda L. | Teaching Children Mathematics, September 2004 | Go to article overview

The Thirteen Days of Halloween: Using Children's Literature to Differentiate Instruction in the Mathematics Classroom


Forbringer, Linda L., Teaching Children Mathematics


One of the most difficult tasks that we face as teachers is finding ways to challenge all the students in our care appropriately. The mathematical abilities of the children in any given classroom can vary widely (Slavin 1987). Educational experts assert that learning is greatest when instruction matches the child's level of readiness or performance. For example, John Dewey recommended that teachers match instructional activities to the individual (Dewey 1963, 1964). The Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky argued that lessons must be crafted to match individual development (Vygotsky 1978). Jean Piaget believed in matching instruction to a child's developmental readiness and demonstrated that instruction is profitable only when a child is developmentally ready (Inhelder, Sinclair, and Bovet 1974). The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) recommends that structures be developed to "provide appropriate, differentiated support" (NCTM 2000, p. 369). When the mathematical abilities of children in the class are varied, however, it is difficult for one teacher to provide instruction and support at the optimal level for each child in the room.

How can teachers meet the diverse mathematical needs of children in their classrooms? Using children's literature as a springboard for mathematics instruction is one enjoyable and versatile technique. The wealth of delightful children's literature available yields many stories with the potential for mathematical investigations at a variety of instructional levels. After reading a book together, the whole class can participate in an instructional activity, or small groups of students can focus on different mathematical problems suited to their levels of readiness.

Children's literature offers rich opportunities for children to discuss mathematical ideas in the context of solving real problems and therefore is an excellent vehicle for implementing NCTM's Principles and Standards for School Mathematics (2000). NCTM recommends that problem solving be an integral part of the curriculum, that mathematics instruction be connected to the real world, and that children learn to communicate their mathematical thinking to teachers and peers. Children's literature allows children to discuss their ideas while solving problems embedded in the stories, in a context that most children find engaging and motivating. As Marilyn Burns writes, "Incorporating children's books into math instruction helps students experience the wonder possible in mathematical problem solving and helps them see a connection between mathematics and the imaginative ideas in books" (Burns 1992, p. 1).

This article describes how the book The Thirteen Days of Halloween (Greene 2000) can be used to teach a variety of mathematical concepts in kindergarten to fourth-grade classrooms. The wealth of mathematical investigations that the story inspires make it an ideal choice for teachers trying to meet the diverse needs of their students.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

About the Book

The Thirteen Days of Halloween by Carol Greene is a take-off on the traditional song "The Twelve Days of Christmas." In this delightfully eerie rendition, a debonair ghoul attempts to woo his green-skinned girlfriend ("ghoulfriend") with a series of unique gifts. On the first day of Halloween, he gives her a vulture in a dead tree. On the second day, he gives her two hissing cats and a vulture in a dead tree. The pattern continues on subsequent days, adding three fat toads, four giggling ghosts, five cooked worms, six owls a-hooting, seven spiders creeping, eight brooms a-flying, nine wizards whizzing, ten goblins gobbling, eleven bats a-swooping, and twelve cauldrons bubbling. Each page shows humorous illustrations of the bemused ghoulfriend with that day's gifts. Finally, on the thirteenth day of Halloween, the ghoulfriend invites her suitor to tea and gives him a real, live mystery gift. Because the author does not reveal the contents of that last mysterious package, young readers can try to imagine how someone might reward a suitor for such unusual gifts. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Thirteen Days of Halloween: Using Children's Literature to Differentiate Instruction in the Mathematics Classroom
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.