Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I'm moving

Beth's Bookshelf has moved to

I am in the process of moving the content to the new site. As soon as I am settled I will begin adding new posts about the wonderful pieces of children's literature that we all enjoy.

Thank you for your patience!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Play nice!

Ever since Blogger changed their interface I've been unable to get new book links to Amazon to work. [See the Nov 27 post--I can generate the HTML code at Amazon, it just doesn't appear correctly here.] It seems that Google and Amazon have forgotten how important it is to play nice. The frustration that developed as I attempted to figure out how to resolve the problem greatly contributed to the lack of new postings over recent months. If anyone reading this has advice for how to fix the problem I would appreciate hearing from you.



Tuesday, February 7, 2012


First thank you to all of you who have stopped by to browse the bookshelf. I must beg your pardon for allowing the shelves to get a little dusty. This week I am brushing away the cobwebs and making room to add new titles beginning next week.

Thank you for your patience and understanding!


Sunday, November 27, 2011


One of the 11 Best Illustrated Books of 2011, Stuck by Oliver Jeffers would not be at the top of my list of books that can be used to teach traditional math concepts. However, I think it is a fantastic book for conveying the value of perseverance and persistence in problem solving. The story begins with Floyd getting his kite stuck in a tree then proceeds with his comical attempts to throw a variety of different items into the tree in his attempts to dislodge the kite.

Read aloud Stuck to your students then discuss the attributes that helped Floyd solve his problem. For example, persistence, trying alternative solutions etc. Relate these attributes to solving math problems. Later, when student face a challenging math problem, remind them of Floyd.

<a href=""><img border="0" src="" ></a><img src="" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />

<iframe src="" style="width:120px;height:240px;" scrolling="no" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" frameborder="0"></iframe>

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Eat Your Math Homework

My favorite new book for the math classroom is Eat Your Math Homework Recipes for Hungry Minds by Ann McCallum. Students won't report to class claiming their dog ate their homework with activities such as the ones McCallum has cooked up. These tasty recipes can be followed at home or at school for a tasty snack of milk and math.

The recipes begin with "Fibonacci Snack Sticks" where children learn about patterns and sequences with a side of math history as they skewer a variety of ingredients to create edible patterns. Other recipes including "Fraction Chips," "Tessellating Two-Color Brownies," and Probability Trail Mix" will have students coming back for seconds.

Teaching Tip
Invite parents to join the class and assist small groups of children as they cook up some math.

[NOTE: I've provided links to both the hardcover and paperback versions of this book. You may want the hardcover for you personal library. I suggest multiple copies of the paperbacks so you have at least one copy for each small group.]

Friday, September 9, 2011

Teddy Bear Math

While I was away for the summer break a new book found it's way to my desk Teddy Bear Math by Barbara Barbiere McGrath. This book can engage children in a delightful exploration of counting, estimation, sorting, addition and graphing. The rhyming verse encourages readers to grab handfuls of Teddy Bear Counters for a variety of activities. Even if you do not have a set of Teddy Bear Counters for children to use along with reading the book I think it is a great addition to your classroom library.

An earlier book by McGrath, Teddy Bear Counting is a perfect companion to the new title. Together children will build Number Sense and develop counting skills.

Teaching Tip
Substitute beans as an inexpensive substitute for the teddy bear manipulative. I suggest dried white beans that can easily be spray painted red, yellow, purple, blue, orange and green then used for all of the counting and sorting activities.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Ten Flashing Fireflies

"What do we see in the summer night?
Ten flashing fireflies burning bright!
Catch the one twinkling there
Like a star.
One flashing firefly in our jar."

One of my favorite childhood memories is sitting on my grandmother's porch at dusk waiting for the fireflies. Some nights all of the cousins would happily run around and try to catch them other nights we would lazily watch as in unison they seemed to float into the tree tops.

Ten Flashing Fireflies by Philemon Sturges beautifully depicts this summer ritual in an imaginative counting book that is the story of a brother and sister catching and counting fireflies then releasing them back into the night.

Teaching Tip
Counting seems such a simple concept from our adult perspective, but for the young child learning to count can be a daunting task. For starters they must learn the number names and the counting sequence, then it gets more complicated with concepts such as cardinality (knowing that the last number said identifies the total number of objects in a group) and stability (knowing that rearranging the position of objects in a group does not change the cardinality). To help youngsters master these complex mathematical ideas we must give them many opportunities to count. Reading books such as Ten Flashing Fireflies can help. Luckily, children often like books read to them over and over again, so each time we read with them we can ask questions that help them learn to count. First, have them count along with the characters. Then, ask them to predict what comes next. For example, when the children have three fireflies in their jar then catch one more ask how many fireflies are now in the jar. Have objects available such as beans, pennies or some other small item and have children use them to represent the fireflies. They can add a bean to a jar (or pile) each time another firefly is captured. After reading they can count the objects again and again.

What other ideas might you have for using Ten Flashing Fireflies to teach basic counting concepts?