Monday, October 11, 2010

Addition and Subtraction Books

For a few months now, I have mentioned addition or subtraction off and on to the Bibliophile.  Mostly, I've done it the way we introduce all learning - informally, on a doodle pad while he eats, while playing board games, and, of course, through books.  The lightbulb clearly didn't go off, and that's fine.  I would just drop it, do other things with him, and mention it again a few weeks or months later.

And then these two books arrived.  And he totally gets it!  Since he essentially learned both concepts at the same time, he sometimes needs to be reminded to add rather than subtract, or vice versa, but it has clearly "clicked" for him.  I love these lightbulb moments. 

A great thing about these books is that even if your child isn't anywhere near ready to take on adding and subtracting, the child can answer all of the questions just by counting (see excerpts).  And, even if they're not ready to count, the variety of animals is a child-pleaser in its own right.

What's New at the Zoo? An Animal Adding Adventure
What's New at the Zoo: An Animal Adding Adventure, by Suzanne Slade.  Colorful illustrations of animals at play are paired with rhyming text as each two-page spread presents an addition riddle.  To the side, in large font, the problem is written in numbers (such as, "4+2=?").

Four dusty elephants
spraying water jets -
two calves join the fun.
How many getting wet?
The book was an instant hit here.  The Bibliophile loves animals, the zoo, and counting books.  Once he realized he could do something new (adding), he wanted to read this over and over again.  He's been using his fingers to count, rather than the animals; I have mixed feelings about that.  It shows me he gets the concept of adding, rather than just counting the animals he sees on the page, but I have heard that finger counting isn't the best habit.  At this age, though, he can count on his toes if he wants to.

What's the Difference? An Endangered Animal Subtraction Story

What's the Difference?  An Endangered Animal Subtraction Story, by Suzzane Slade.

Like What's New at the Zoo, this book also contains a brief riddle and a numerical problem every two pages.

Twelve furry otter pups
in a grassy bed --
two hunt for clams below.
How many rest instead?
Unlike What's New at the Zoo, it also contains a boxed message about each set of animals, at the top of the page.  The paragraph explains a little more about the featured animal and its endangered status.  We haven't read those sections very much yet (I sometimes skim them myself).  They're very interesting, and would be educational for an older reader.  I do love when books contain multiple levels of information that will allow the book to "grow" with the child.  I'm sure we'll come back to those sections when the Bibliophile is older.  He received this book as warmly as he did What's New at the Zoo.  I don't really see him expressing preference for one over the other; when we read one, we always end up reading both.

We also read the popular Mathstart series book Missing Mittens last week, before these others arrived and took center stage.  I think it mostly went over his head.  I haven't retried it this week, though.  (I have offered it, but he hasn't been interested).

Melissa & Doug Stack and Sort BoardIn terms of companion activities, I haven't tracked down and printed any fun crafty addition and subtraction activities yet.  We've just been doing a lot of $1 workbooks over lunch and counting now and then with his wooden shapes toy.

Melissa & Doug Jumbo Numbers Wooden Chunky PuzzleWe also play around a bit with his Melissa and Doug numbers puzzle.  I'll call out a math question (what is 2 + 3?) and he'll find the right puzzle piece to answer the question.  He usually says he wants to ask the questions after a couple of minutes, so it turns into more free silly play than learning.  But that mix of learning and silly is what being almost-3 is all about (at least in our house).

If you'd like to see counting books we've reviewed in the past, click here.  Or click here for all of our previous math-related posts.

Comment: What are your favorite early math books or learning tools?  What mathematically-related fun have you been up to this week?

I am linking this post up with Math Monday.

Disclosure: I was provided publisher copies at no cost of What's the Difference and What's New at the Zoo in order to write this review.  If you click on any links in this post and purchase anything, we may earn a small commission through our affiliate relationship with


Joyful Learner said...

These are wonderful recommendations! Just in time for us because JC started doing addition in her head. It came about rather unexpectedly as she was playing outside and I told them they had 10 minutes to play. She asked for 2 more minutes and said,"We need 12 minutes." lol. Since then, I've seen her grasp the concepts of addition rather easily. For some reason, she got the idea of subtraction before probably because we were always asking,"How many are left?" and she loves to subtract on her own.

I love how you adapt books to suit his needs. He is so very advanced for his age so you probably need books to grow into more than not!

Thank you for linking to math links. My math post will be delayed so I won't get back until Tuesday.

Suzanne Slade said...

I'm so happy your son is enjoying What's New at the Zoo? and What's the Difference? As the author of these math titles, it's always great to hear stories of how children loves the beautiful animals in the books, as well as how they learn math along the way!
Keep on reading!
Best, Suzanne Slade

Raising a Happy Child said...

These books sound very interesting. Anna adds easily in her head nowadays, but subtraction is a little more tentative. She uses whatever she is playing with at the moment. This book reminded me of one title by Jeff Tang that was also built that way, unfortunately the name of the book escapes me at the moment.