Book: Author: Publisher/Date: ISBN-13:

Book: Math Potatoes
Author: Greg Tang
Publisher/Date: Scholastic Press/ 2005
ISBN-13: 978-0-439-44390-6
Grades: 6-8th
TEKS: (6.11) Underlying processes and mathematical tools.
(C) select or develop an appropriate problem-solving strategy from a variety of different types,
including drawing a picture, looking for a pattern, systematic guessing and checking, acting it
out, making a table, working a simpler problem, or working backwards to solve a problem.
Summary: This picture book includes a poem consisting of neatly rhymed couplets that first set a
scene and on the opposing page might most efficiently be grouped to arrive at a sum. There are
no overt patterns so that, as Tang says in his author's note, children are challenged to combine
numbers in smart ways, not just obvious ways. The book concludes with clear diagrams and
succinct explanations providing the solutions for adding of numbers that form a pattern or
relationship and thereby enhancing mental math.
Materials: Book Math Potatoes, 6 decks of playing cards.
The teacher will read the book Math Potatoes to the students (slowly). Reading it slowly will
allow for the students to internalize the riddle and see if they can make connections.
The students will get into groups of 4-6 depending on class size.
The teacher will pass out the decks of cards to the students. 1 set per group.
The teacher will turn to the page in the book about the MATH-TER CARDS.
The students will be asked to find the cards making the sets exactly like the page in the book.
The teacher will guide the students setting up one set at a time, until all 3 sets are formed.
Next you will ask the students if there is a set or pattern of numbers that they see.
Give the students a few minutes to analyze the numbers once all sets have been made.
If the students can easily see the pattern or sets of numbers ask them, how could they figure out
how many cards are there in all?
Next, I would have the students (with patterns set) explain how they got the total number of
cards, and write it in a number sentence. (15 x 5 = 75)
After that page has been mastered I would continue on to the next pages of the book; this will
allow the students who may have not been able to relate to one riddle to relate to another riddle
in the book. The student will see a pattern in the book at some point. If the student still is not
seeing the pattern the teacher can move to a different book that is a little easier by Greg Tang,
The Grapes of Math.
As a closure I would allow the students to play with the cards and see if the group could come up
with patterns and a written statement to present to the class.
Adapted by Monica Mitchell, 2010