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  • Writer's pictureJessica Kaminski

Composing Numbers and Problem Solving with Math Picture Books

If you haven't seen my growing post of math picture books, you will want to check it out here. I try to add a new book each month and was so excited when our library added a few new books. (I think they know I'm checking them all out!)


This month, I'm bringing a new book from Greg Tang that connects art with problem solving. I love this book for so many reasons. Math-terpieces combines the beautiful art from several amazing artists with mathematics that encourages problem solving. Students are sure to get a lot out of each page and want to look at it more closely as you read it aloud. Read on to find some awesome ways to use this book and even a FREEBIE to use with your students. (This post does contain affiliate links.)


Math-terpieces, The Art of Problem Solving, by Greg Tang includes 12 well-known art pieces from artists ranging from Monet to Warhol. Each page includes a work of art with a small poem. On the corresponding page, objects from the painting are placed in groups. Students are encouraged to use those groups to compose a number given in the poem.


On this page, students would first see White Water Lilies from Claude Monet. The poem would instruct students to group the lilies to make the number 8. The poem even instructs students to try to find 4 different ways to make 8.


The challenge here is the way the objects are grouped. Instead of thinking of ways to make 8 using 1 object, you will notice they are grouped in different ways requiring a lot of problem solving.


This is a great book to use with manipulatives for younger students. Simply grab some connecting cubes or counters to make the different groups on each page. Then, ask students to see which groups can make the given number. Students should then record the matching addition sentence.


For older students, this book can be a great way to practice problem solving. Students can look for patterns using even and odd numbers. Older students can even determine whether to start with the greatest group or by finding equal groups to make doubles. There are loads of strategies to use helping students to focus on the idea that there can be more that one method.


Another great bonus is that there is a section in the back to help with some of these strategies. Students can study them themselves or educators can use it to coach students. Greg Tang really thought of everything.



If you want students to show their thinking while reading this great book, check out this FREEBIE. Each page includes a graphic that can be used along with the book. I put them in page protectors or use a Smart Pal (link below) for students to circle the groups using a dry erase marker. Students can then record their equation in the space below.


You can download this completely free by entering your email below.








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