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Problem solving with The Sneetches

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Problem solving with The Sneetches

Abstract

Math by the Month features collections of short activities focused on a monthly theme. These articles aim for an inquiry or problem-solving orientation that includes four activities each for grade bands K–2, 3–4, and 5–6. In this issue, teachers read the classic Dr. Seuss book The Sneetches and other stories with their class and get students to engage with these associated mathematical problems. The problems, many of which are open-ended or contain multiple solutions or solution pathways, cover a range of mathematical concepts.
282 December 2016/January 2017 • teaching children mathematics | Vol. 23, No. 5 www.nctm.org
math by the month James Russo and To b y R u s s o
Problem solving
with the Sneetches
James Russo, james.russo@monash.edu, Belgrave South Primary School, and Toby
Russo, russo.toby.t@edumail.vic.gov.au, Bell Primary School, are teachers in Victoria,
Australia. Their teaching passion revolves around developing engaging games and activi-
ties that extend student thinking. Edited by Lisa Brooks, Lisa.Brooks@ucf.edu, a lecturer
in the College of Education and Human Performance at the University of Central Florida in
Orlando; and Samantha Neff, Samantha_neff@scps.k12. .us, a K–grade 5 math coach
at Highlands Elementary in Winter Springs, Florida. Email problem collections for the
editors to consider as future Math by the Month columns. See submission guide lines at
http://www.nctm.org/WriteForTCM. Email creative solutions and adapted problems to
tcm@nctm.org for potential publication, noting Readers Exchange in the subject line.
Read the classic Dr. Seuss book with your class and get
students t o engage w ith these assoc iated mathe matical
problems. The problems, many of which are open-ended or
contain multiple solutions or solution pathways, cover a range of
mathematical concepts.
WEEK 1
How many Sneetches are on the beaches? Altogether, 101 Sneetches lived on the beaches. At the
beginning of the story, more than
1
2
of the Sneetches were Star-Belly Sneetches and more than
2
5
were
Plain-Belly Sneetches. How many of each type of Sneetch might there have been? What is the fewest
number of Star-Belly Sneetches there could have been?
WEEK 2
Mr. McBean’s Fortune: The Sneetches spent all their money on Mr. McBeans star-on and star-off machines,
but they also wasted a lot of their time as well. It takes 1 minute to line up and go through the star-off machine
and 1 minute to line up and go through the star-on machine. If the poorest Sneetch on the beach had $780,
how much time would it spend going through the machines? The richest Sneetch on the beach spends exactly
1 week going through the machines. How much money did it have to begin with? Hint: In 2 minutes, a Sneetch
will go through both machines and spend $13. How much money would it spend in 1 hour?
WEEK 3
Getting older and grumpier: Just like the Sneetches, the Zax certainly wasted a lot of time arguing. One Zax
threatened to stand there for 59 years! This turned out to be almost exactly right. At the time Dr. Seuss wrote his
book, the Zax had spent 60 years arguing with each other about who had the right of way. When they fi rst began
arguing, the South-Going Zax was half the age of the North-Going Zax. By the time 60 years had passed, the
South-Going Zax was
3
4
of the age of the North-Going Zax. How old were they when Dr. Seuss wrote his story?
WEEK 4
Pick a peck of Snide: The snide-fi eld in the story is 9 miles wide. Imagine the snide-fi eld is square in shape.
How many feet long is each side? What is the perimeter and area of the snide-fi eld, expressed in miles? Can
you express the perimeter and area of the snide-fi eld in square feet? Hint: Remember, a mile is 5,280 feet.
Grades 5–6
Go to http://www.nctm.org to fi nd three
reproducible, full-size student activity sheets
of extra challenges to accompany each of
the problem sets for the respective grade
bands. Access is a members-only benefit.
Copyright © 2016 The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Inc. www.nctm.org.
All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed electronically or in any other format without written permission from NCTM.
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www.nctm.org Vol. 23, No. 5 | teaching children mathematics • December 2016/January 2017 283
Grades 3–4
WEEK 1
How many Sneetches are on the beaches? Altogether, 101 Sneetches lived on the beaches. At the beginning
of the story, there were more Star-Belly Sneetches than Plain-Belly Sneetches. How many Star-Belly Sneetches
were there? How many Plain-Belly Sneetches? What if there were exactly 17 more Star-Belly Sneetches than
Plain-Belly Sneetches? How many of each type of Sneetch lived on the beaches?
WEEK 2
Mr. McBean’s Fortune: The Sneetches spent all their money going through Mr. McBean’s
star-on and star-off machines, and Mr. McBean got very, very rich. Even the poorest Sneetch
on the beach, who went by the name of Snuffl es and kept its money in cash under its mattress,
spent $780! All of Snuffl es’s money was kept in $10, $20, and $50 bills. What might its stash of
money have looked like? What if Snuffl es had only $10 bills? How many $10 bills would it
have? What if it had only $20 bills? How many $20 bills would it have?
WEEK 3
Getting older and grumpier: The stubborn standoff between the Zax began on May 17, 1894, and it was
59 years and 59 days later that Dr. Seuss decided to put pen to paper and tell the story of the Zax. What year
did Dr. Seuss write the story? Hint: Think of how many years passed between 1894 and 1900. How many more
years until 59 years would have passed?
WEEK 4
Killing time in a Brickel bush: The character in the “What Was I Scared Of?” story was so frightened of those
pants that he hid in a Brickel bush for a very long time indeed. In fact, he climbed into the bush at 6 p.m. on
a Sunday night and did not come out again until 11:30 p.m. on Tuesday night. How long did he have to spend
hiding in the Brickel bush? Hint: By 6 p.m. Monday, how long had the character spent in the Brickel bush?
WEEK 1
Altogether, exactly 20 Sneetch children live on the beaches. How many might be Star-Belly
Children, and how many might be Plain-Belly children? What if there were 10 Star-Belly children;
how many Plain-Belly children would there be?
WEEK 2
Mr. McBean’s Fortune: The Sneetches spent all their money going through Mr. McBean’s
star-on and star-off machines. It costs $3 to go through the Star-on machine and $10 to go
through the star-off machine. How much did it cost a Sneetch to go through both the star-on machine
and the Star-off machine once each?
WEEK 3
The Zax: 59 days, 59 years, the Zax are all about 59! Just like the Sneetches, the Zax certainly wasted a lot
of time arguing. One of the Zax threatened to stand there for 59 days, and the other Zax, for 59 years! 59 is
an interesting number. Can you use blocks to represent 59 as groups of 10s and 1’s? Can you fi nd another
way of representing 59 with groups of 10s and 1’s? Hint: Think about how many 10s are needed to make 50.
Now think about how many 1’s are needed to make 9.
WEEK 4
Too many Daves’ brilliantly big bunk beds—Mrs. McCave had 23 sons called Dave. Mrs. McCave and her
sons called Dave all slept on 3 gigantic bunk beds, all of which were the same size. How many people slept
on each of the bunk beds? Draw a picture to show what it would look like. Hint: Remember, the bunk beds
are the same size, so there are the same number of people on each bed. Get some blocks to help you fi gure
out the problem. Remember, you will need 23 blocks for the Daves and 1 block for Mrs. McCave.
K–Grade 2
DUSANTOMIC/THINKSTOCK (BOOK); BLOCK37/THINKSTOCK (MONEY); JEHSOMWANG/THINKSTOCK (BEACH SCENE)
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... We have attempted to demonstrate how the narrative-first approach can simultaneously engageteachers and students and energise the mathematics classroom, whilst allowing a range of mathematical skills and concepts to be covered across a variety of ability levels. For other examples of our attempts to employ this approach, see Russo & Russo (2017a, 2017b, 2017c, 2017d., 2018. If you'd like to find out more about this approach or any of the example lessons, please feel free to email the authors. ...
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