Series: Ideas at Work

All Sorts of Families: Connecting School and Home with Math

All members of a household have things in common and things that set them apart. Exploring the important ways that loved ones go together and what makes them unique involves both mathematical thinking and a lot of fun.

Kick off your getting-to-know-you or family studies with the book Five Creatures by Emily Jenkins. In this story, a little girl describes the five creatures in her house—3 humans and 2 cats—by putting them together in various groups by their physical attributes, likes and dislikes, and talents. For example,

Three with orange hair, and two with gray. or

Three who like to drink milk, one who’s allergic, and one who has it only in coffee.

The myriad attributes of family members provide a meaningful context to explore the Big Ideas of Sets, namely:

  • Attributes can be used to sort collections into sets.
  • The same collection can be sorted in different ways.
  • Sets can be compared and ordered.

Teachers can use the book to explore sets and sorting with our classroom activity People Sort.

But why stop there? After exploring in the classroom, continue the learning at home. Ask families to contribute to a Creatures in our Classroom book. This helps build a bridge between math at school and math at home, while welcoming families to share what makes them unique. Finding different sets of people (and animals) is a way to celebrate what makes us special and what makes us similar.

Resources to involve families include this video to send home with how-to instructions to make pages for the class book about their own family. Here are templates for the pages of the book so that each family can illustrate two ways to sort the “creatures” in their home. Both video and print resources are available in English and Spanish.
English-language template (pdf)
Spanish-language template (pdf)