Series: Book Ideas

It’s Picnic Time. Don’t Forget to Pack the Math!

Many classrooms are planning year-end picnics, so it’s the perfect time to read We’re Going on a Picnic! by the beloved author Pat Hutchins. Like several of her other books, such as Rosie’s Walk, this tale is set in the farmyard and illustrated with big, bold pictures and simple text.

Hen, Goose, and Duck prepare for a picnic by packing a basket with berries, apples, and pears. Then they go in search of the perfect place to picnic. They go across the field, up the hill, down the hill, and around the lane. As they go, they share the load of the heavy picnic basket, only to find that it’s become much lighter when they finally settle on a place to eat!

This is a delightful story to act out, and there are many math questions to explore, such as:

• How many berries, apples and pears should the three friends pack? How many of each do they get? How can they be sure to share fairly? Create simple number stories by giving students the number of berries, apples, and pears and asking them to find the total number of fruits. Older children can determine whether the three friends will get an equal share or not. Children may also want to determine the numbers of each fruit to bring—or decide to pack something else to eat.
• What route should the friends take to the picnic spot? Could we draw them a map? Draw landmarks from the story on sticky notes and have students determine how to position them on a large map. Trace the route the friends take to the picnic spot.
• Why does the picnic basket get lighter? Launch an investigation of weight by exploring how the same size containers can weigh differently depending on their contents. Baby food jars fit well on a pan balance scale for direct comparison. Fill them with materials of varying weights such as cotton balls and marbles.

Lastly, don’t forget the math that’s a part of your own picnic story. As you and your students plan for a picnic or other year-end celebration, involve them as much as possible. How many people are coming? Have the students count water bottles, napkins, and other supplies. How much food is needed? Who can draw a map to the picnic spot? Picnics are a yummy way for your students to use the math they’ve learned all year! Have fun!

Big Idea

Relationships between objects and places can be represented with mathematical precision. More

Big Idea

A quantity (whole) can be decomposed into equal or unequal parts; the parts can be composed to form the whole. More

Common Core Alignment

Number and Operations: Base Ten More

Source: Early Math at Work, Vol. 3, No. 3 • Copyright: Erikson Institute • Content ID: NEWS029

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