Teaching English And Maths Primary

A project of the Mathematical Association of Victoria and
the Victorian Government Strategic Partnerships Program

Teaching English And Maths Primary

The following book reviews have been contributed by TEAMP members. Have a favourite picture story book you would like to tell us about?  Please send us the title, author, illustrator, name of the school and grade of the teacher providing the review.  Email the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. team today. The MAV shop have a wonderful range of picture story books for teaching mathematics.

| One Odd Day | 365 Penguins | One Hundred Hungry Ants | Sophie's Prize | Uno's Garden |

One Odd Day by Doris Fisher, Dani Sneed and illus. Karen Lee 
contributed by Andrew Noordhoff Grade 3 Teacher, Jells Park Primary School


One odd day sOne Odd Day is a book by Doris Fisher. The book tells the story of a young boy who wakes up to discover everything in his world is ‘odd’, everywhere he looks he continues to find ‘odd’ things. This includes finding his shirt has three sleeves, a dog who has five legs and his teacher who has five arms.

The book itself was extremely engaging for the students. Reading it aloud the rhythmic nature of the words worked really well to engage the students. The students were tuned in immediately by the book title and front cover.  Upon reading they understood the concept of odd by identifying the odd numbers on the clock.  They showed delight when looking for the hidden numbers and odd creatures in the illustrations.

As a follow up to the activity the students were asked to use playdo to create their own ‘odd creature’ with odd features. The students created a range of different creatures and thoroughly enjoyed sharing their creature with the class and having other students find all of the ‘odd’ features of their creature.

The book was very useful to help students grasp the concept of odd and even and look for things in everyday life that they noticed was odd or even. A follow up to the activity

The children enjoyed creating their ‘Odd Creature’.The book assisted the children in grasping the concept of odd and even. A follow up of the activity could be to write a book about ‘The even day’ linking in both Literacy and Numeracy concepts together.

Some comments from students:
  • I loved learning about odd numbers using the book - George
  • It was fun finding numbers in the book - Keira
  • Loved how the mum had two heads - Xander
  • Loved finding odd creatures in the book - Shiloh

contributed by Nadia Costabile, Year 1 Teacher Jells Park Primary School

  • You could make something silly (Sam)
  • You could make whatever you liked (Jenny)
  • I loved making my creature look odd with an odd number of parts (Thomas)


One Odd Day [Review 2]
Lesson for Year 3 Low Ability Maths Group
contributed by Andrew Noordhoff Grade 3 Teacher, Jells Park Primary School

1a OneOddDay classroomOne Odd Day by Doris Fisher and Dani Sneed is a picture story book about a boy who wakes up to find that everything around him is a little .... odd. We centred a lesson around this book for our Year 3 low ability maths group.

  • initial conversation about what odd and even numbers are.
  • other uses or meanings for the word ‘odd’ (for example strange, or chance and probability ‘odds’).
  • read the book One Odd Day.
  • discussed all the odd things (strange or uneven numbers, as well as the odds of these things actually happening etc) throughout the reading.
  • completed a follow up activity: make a very odd creature.

As evidenced by the photos, the students had a fantastic time creating their monsters. Taking away a pencil and allowing them to get creative was a much needed motivation for some of these students who often lack confidence and enthusiasm.

As they created their monster, they consistently checked in to the criteria, ensuring that they had been using odd numbers, and also making the monster look odd or strange.

This activity would be fantastic for the junior years and was a welcome activity for the struggling Year 3 group. They now feel confident with the concept of odd and even numbers. The book effectively allowed for revision of odd and even, and students took delight in finding odd numbers and items all over the pages of this creative and exciting story. The teachers notes at the back of the book were also really helpful.


365 Penguins by Jean-Luc Fromental and Joelle Jolivet  
contributed by Jen Briggs - Numeracy leader, Derrimut Primary School 

2a 365 PenguinsFor a primary maths educator, stumbling across a picture story book that maintains the integrity of well-crafted piece of literature whilst exploring mathematical themes is like finding gold.
Jean-Luc Fromental and Joelle Jolivet have produced one of those magical tales in their book, 365 Penguins. As a picture book, 365 Penguins is funny and engaging. As a provocation for mathematical learning it is filled with possibilities for students from Foundation through to Year 6. The story explicitly covers mathematical ideas such as counting, days of the week, calendar months, addition and multiplication, money, and shape.

A family of four are surprised to welcome in the new-year with a penguin delivered anonymously to their doorstep. The problems continue to multiply as day after day, month after month, the penguins continue to appear at the door. The book sparks curiosity as the family endeavour to find efficient ways to organise and keep count of the penguins throughout the year. As April 10 arrives, the amount of penguins hits three-digits and things get progressively difficult as the household begins to calculate the increasing cost of feeding and housing the endless stream of birds.

This book would be a valuable addition to any primary school library and is an absolute must for teachers looking to engage students in maths through the use of literature. Teachers could use the book as a story shell to launch a one-off lesson or return to the book throughout the year as a basis for ongoing mathematical investigations.
Overall, 365 Penguins tells a humorous story supported by bold eye-catching illustrations and endless opportunities for mathematical explorations across the primary years.

One Hundred Hungry Ants by Elinor Pinczes, illus. Bonnie MacKain
Ellen Corovic - Mathematics education consultant, MAV

3a 100 Hungry AntsI was quickly captivated by the roll of the rhyme and imagery depicted in Eliner J Pinczes’ One Hundred Hungry Ants
It’s a simple idea - 100 ants march to a picnic to get ‘yummies for our grumbling tummies’. It demonstrates different ways to make 100 as a rectangular array. The 100 ants start marching in one row before the littlest ant exclaims that they are marching ‘way too slow’ and as such suggests that the ants march in two rows of 50 ants.

The ants scurry around to create the new formation… but are they simply wasting time? From one row of 100 ants to two rows of 50 ants and so on, they scramble until the ants marching in 10 rows of 10 to reach the picnic spot.

The story is catchy and repetitive in nature which enables children to quickly tune into the mathematical idea. The illustrations are vivid, whimsical and lively and a good visual representation of the mathematics.
This book could be a good introduction to arrays, ways to make 100 or division.
It would be suitable for Preps through to Year 4 students depending on the mathematical focus. Either way, students will enjoy this story, particularly the way it ends!

Using the book in your classroom Foundation


Use a variety of materials to make 100. Explore a range of ways to organise the resources for ease of counting.ANTSCreate a class chart using the sentence starter ‘Clever counters…’
Level 1/2
Use a variety of materials to model the different grouping arrangements for 100. Record these ‘groups of’ statements. For example 10 groups of 10 is 100.
Alternatively use 12 and 24 and arrange these numbers into arrays and record using the groups of expression or the division version of shared between eg 24 shared between 4 groups is 6.

Level 3/4
Go on an arrays hunt. Locate and record the arrays that can be found around the classroom and or school. Take a photo of the array and record an appropriate number sentence using multiplication or division.
Investigate factor, factor, product relations. For example, explore a range of numbers and create a list of all of the factors for each number (product). Use hands on resources to support the investigation and recording.

Sophie's Prize by Jennie Marston, illus. by Lexie Watt
contributed by Dr Sharyn Livy, Faculty of Education, Monash University

5 SophiesPrizeThe Mathematical Association of Victoria’s bookshop has grown, providing a range of titles that can be read with different age groups to generate mathematical activities in primary classrooms.
Children’s literature can provide a rich environment where mathematical ideas can be explored by:

  • making connections to student lives
  • promoting opportunities for problem solving and mathematical reasoning
  • integrating of mathematical content

One of our newest picture books, Sophie’s Prize, written by Jennie Marson and illustrated by Lexie Watt, can be read for the enjoyment of the story and illustrations or used to encourage mathematical thinking within a realistic situation. It is most suited to early primary years.

Sophie is the main character and thinks that she is the richest girl in Australia when she wins $100 in an art competition. The story provides an opportunity to discuss how Sophie should spend her money.
Knowing how to manage personal finances is a feature of everyday life. Introducing students to financial literacy in the early years will assist students as they consider their needs and wants into the future

Student Reflection

Zeke enjoyed reading the book, ‘It’s good because it tells people how to use their money. I give it seven out of ten.’
Zeke asked his brother Finn to comment, ‘Good book because it teaches you about money and knowing how much it is worth. Plus thinking about what to do with it. I think it would be a good book for Preps to Year 1.’

After Reading Sophie's Prize
  • discuss with students what they could buy with $10, $20, $50 or $100
  • bring catalogues into the classroom and students can decide how best to spend the money by making a poster
  • older students might prepare a meal or party budget using catalogues
  • plan the cost of a family day to the art gallery or somewhere else
  • draw a map of your family outing
  • create a timetable of how you will spend the day.
Uno's Garden by Graeme Base
contributed by Josh Shuttleworth-Yr 1/2 teacher, Derrimut Primary School 

6 UnosGarden From the author of childhood favourites 'Animalia', 'The Eleventh Hou'r and 'The Worst Band In The Universe', comes Graeme Base’s thought-provoking story, 'Uno’s Garden'. Set in a beautiful forest full of colourful flora and fauna, this tale explores the ideas of sustainability and environmental responsibility.

The story begins with Uno deciding to move into the forest, but it isn’t long before others follow suit. As more people move into the area, plants and animals are gradually replaced with buildings and roads. It isn’t belong before the city is nothing but concrete and steel, with not a hint of nature in sight.

Uno tries to repair the damage by planting and tending to his own garden, but he grows old and dies (as does the recurring creature, the Snortlepig). Luckily, others within the community take responsibility for the garden, and the plants and animals slowly return to the area – except Snortlepig. The story ends with a message of hope that one day, this creature might return.

Uno’s Garden provides a range of teaching opportunities across different curricular areas, with its exploration of narrative structure and patterns, alliteration, and Dahl-esque creation of words for literacy, links to sustainability for science, and numerical patterns and number facts for maths.

The books features a tally of animals, plants, buildings, and the Snortlepig on each page. They change over time in different ways, with some doubling, some looking at square numbers, and some increasing or decreasing by one at a time. This variation allows the text to be explored across different year levels.

The Snortlepig is hidden on each page, which also lends itself to exploring location-specific language. Is he under the tree? To the left or right of the house?
Overall, this is a book that students and teachers alike will love thanks to its detailed illustrations and relatable story. It should make for an engaging link to maths in your classroom.





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