Celebrating Dr. Seuss Day with Math

When we think of celebrating the life and work of Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as “Dr. Seuss,” we envision a brightly-lit palette of rhymes and rhythms. Many of us associate this literary genius with the books that defined our childhood bedtime routines and dominated the bulletin boards throughout our elementary school. When you hear the word “Seuss,” who doesn’t immediately picture a tall, lanky cat with a red-and-white-striped top hat and an obnoxiously large red bow-tie? Because of Seuss’s ingenious creativity, we immediately wanted to befriend this Cat in the Hat as well as his many other characters from the crazy land of Whoville.

Theodore Seuss Geisel was born on March 2nd, 1904. To honor this man and legend, the National Education Association has declared this day “Read Across America Day.” I’ve heard this day be called a number of things, including Seuss Day; but despite what it is named, it will always be attributed to this wonderful children’s author.

While countless reading activities are designed to celebrate this educational holiday, math activities are somewhat overshadowed. I believe books, especially picture books, are a great tool to use to teach math. And although Dr. Seuss may not have rhymed about math specifically, many of his books can be taught in the math classroom.

I would like to share with you a bunch of Seuss-related math activities I discovered via Pinterest. Although many of these pins are geared toward lower-elementary, I think older elementary students would also appreciate some of these activities or games as they take a trip back down Childhood Lane to the wonderful world of Seuss! Just click on the pictures or the links below to take you to that Pinterest pin or board.

Oh! And don’t forget to visit www.seussville.com for more FUN Seuss-activities, lessons and games!


Today is your day.

You’re off to Great Places!

You’re off and away!”

— Dr. Seuss



Nov. 30: “Why Pi?”

I’m concluding our math Picture Book Month celebration with a book that every student should have on their holiday list this year. The book is called Why Pi?

Why Pi?, by Johnny Ball, is a journey throughout time explaining how math is involved in our history. From the phases of the moon to the construction of the Egyptian pyramids, this book illustrates how math naturally impacts the world around us, and how humans use math to impact our world. I love everything about this book from the title to the information-packed, illustrated pages. If your students ever ask “why” something math-related exists, simply hand them this book!

I have thoroughly enjoyed writing my Picture Book Month blogs, and I hope you have enjoyed reading them, too. Picture books may not be intended for everyone, but all ages appreciate having fun once in awhile, especially in a math class; so keep these books handy and break them out once in awhile…you know, for the students. 😉

Ball, Johnny. Why Pi? DK Children. 2009.

Nov. 29: “Twizzlers Percentages Book”

Today’s post is dedicated to my wonderful husband, a Twizzler enthusiast.

Jerry Palotta did a great thing when he wrote his many candy-themed math picture books. He gave teachers and students an excuse to bring candy into the classroom. Not only that, but he created a excitingly tangible way for students to learn about addition, multiplication, fractions, decimals, and in this case, percents.

I have used Palotta’s books in my classroom, and I must say that his books are always a hit with my students, especially his Twizzlers Percentages Book. While drooling over the yummy strawberry candy that we’re about to eat, we discuss key terms and definitions that the book includes: percentage, numerator, denominator, equals and multiply. This book clearly demonstrates the conversion of decimals to percentages and vice-versa. Then, we use our Twizzlers as math manipulatives, demonstrating different percentages of one whole, or 100 percent. After our lesson, we gobble up our manipulatives, enjoying every sugary bite.

If you want a great anticipatory set for your percentages – or decimals – math unit, I highly recommend Jerry Palotta’s books!

Palotta, Jerry. Twizzlers Percentages Book. Illustrated by Rob Bolster. Scholastic Publishing, Inc. 2001.

Nov. 28: A Very Improbable Story

Since yesterday’s Picture Book Month post was fairly long-winded, today’s Picture Book Month celebration is going to be short-n-sweet.

I love the cover of this book!

Today’s book is a fun one! A Very Improbable Story: A Math Adventure by Edward Einhorn is about a boy named Ethan and a very distracting cat who wakes up with him one morning. He thinks nothing of it because he is used to waking up to his pet cat sleeping soundly on his head. However, this cat is no ordinary cat: he talks! And the only way Ethan can get rid of him, is to win the “games of probability.”

This book reminds me of Jon Scieszka’s Math Curse in a way because it takes everyday things – such as choosing which clothes to wear, eating cereal for breakfast, and playing extra-curricular sports – and shows the math (in this case, the probability) behind everything we do!

Great, great book for introducing probability, and awesome illustrations by Adam Gustavson. I can’t wait to add this book to my own personal math picture book library!

Einhorn, Edward. A Very Improbable Story: A Math Adventure. Illustrations by Adam Gustavson. Charlesbridge Publishing. 2008.

Nov. 24 – 27: Sir Cumference Series

If holidays were siblings, Thanksgiving would be the “forgotten child” in the family. You know, the kiddo who sails under the radar, year after year; sitting in between the more exciting holidays, Halloween and Christmas. Then, once a year, for a very minimal amount of time, he is hyped up…and just when he starts to relish all the attention, he is dropped like a bad habit as the focus is shifted to the baby, Black Friday. (Don’t even get me started….)

I won’t lie, Halloween and Christmas are my favorite holidays. That being stated, I feel that Thanksgiving is not celebrated in our hearts in the way it should. How do we give thanks each year? We make cards for our parents. We post thankful comments on Facebook each day. We say a blessing before we sit down to Thanksgiving dinner. These are nice gestures, but they are very mild in comparison to why this holiday was created in the first place.

The reason I bring this up is because it is less than a week since Thanksgiving Day and I have noticed that people have already fallen off the gratitude train. For some, it takes a mere couple of hours to forget as they trample over their neighbors at the local Wal-Mart. For others, they develop that Christmas-tunnel vision by Cyber Monday, and Thanksgiving is out the window.

Not me. Not this year. I continue to be thankful for all that I have, especially the gift of education, the ability to communicate, and a passion for teaching. Without these things, I would not be where I am today. I am so thankful that I have a passion for teaching and that I am able to share that passion with others. And I am so thankful for you for allowing me to share it with you. 🙂

OK, I bet you are probably wondering where my Picture Book Month books are! Well, seeing as though I am running out of days this month, I am going to combine the rest of the Sir Cumference books series into one post. So far this month, we have already celebrated Sir Cumference and All the King’s Tens as well as Sir Cumference and the Great Knight of Angleland. Now, it is time to celebrate the rest of Cindy Neuschwander’s medieval math adventures!

The rest of Cindy Neuschwander’s Sir Cumference books are just as wonderful and thrilling to read. My favorite is Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi. This book is perfect to read to your students when you begin to introduce circles and circle-measurements!

Only a few Picture Book Month posts left. I have enjoyed sharing these amazing books with you and I hope that you’ll expand your math picture book library with a few of these titles during the holiday season!

Nov. 21-23: Thanksgiving Counting Books

Happy Thanksgiving! No need to expect a blog from me the rest of this week; I will be traveling over a river and through the woods to Granny’s house! Instead of being glued to social media on our phones or computers, I hope that you join me in focusing on giving thanks and spending quality time with family or friends.

I have three picture books to celebrate with you today and each book has a little Thanksgiving flavor, if you know what I mean. Funnily enough, each book is a counting book perfect for pre-K ages.

The first delightful picture book is titled 10 Fat Turkeys. 10 Fat Turkeys, written by Tony Johnston and illustrated by Rich Deas, starts off with 10 happy, dancing turkeys on a fence. But, sure enough, one by one they fall off due to their “silly antics.” This cute, cute book teaches counting (backwards) and subtraction.


Break out your imagination hats for the second picture book! This next celebrated book has half as many turkeys as the first one, but they are definitely twice as silly! Five Silly Turkeys by Salina Yoon is an adorable counting book. These turkeys are the essence of silliness: tanning on the beach, dancing, etc. The best part of this book is its unique shape and the use of texture to keep little ones engaged (the turkey’s feathers are made out of a shiny fabric).

The third, and final, Thanksgiving math picture book that I would love to share with you is One Little, Two Little, Three Little Pilgrims. This book, written by B.G. Hennessy, counts ten little Pilgrims and ten little Wampanoag boys and girls as they prepare for a Thanksgiving feast! Kids will love the rhyming and rhythm used as they count the little boys and girls throughout the book.

Johnston, Tony. 10 Fat Turkeys. Illustrated by Rich Deas. Scholastic Inc. 2004.

Hennessy, B.G. One Little, Two Little, Three Little Pilgrims. Illustrated by Lynne Avril Cravath. Puffin. 2001.

Yoon, Salina. Five Silly Turkeys. Penguin Group (USA). 2005.

Nov. 20: “Pigs Will Be Pigs”

I found the ultimate books for That Math Lady. Anyone who knows me well understands (i.e. tolerates) my love for pigs, especially tea cup pigs and micro mini pigs. Well, I found a great picture book about pigs and math! I can’t think of a better combination!

In Pigs Will Be Pigs: Fun with Math and Money by Amy Axelrod, the Pig family needs to find money to go out to dinner.  So they start off on a hunt around the Pig home to find any spare change possible. Mr. Pig searches his wallet and toolbox while Mrs. Pig looks for loose change in the laundry room. The piglets were also successful in finding a few coins in their closets, too. How much did they find and will it be enough to buy food? That is for the young reader to determine as they help the Pig family count their money!

Young readers can probably relate to the pig family. You can begin a lesson asking students if they have ever searched for – or unexpectedly found – money around their home. If so, where?  What did they do with their new fortune? And how much money would they need to find to eat out at their favorite restaurant?

If you love this book, you’ll love Axelrod’s other Pigs and Math series: Pigs On a Blanket: Fun with Math and TimePigs in the Pantry: Fun with Math and Cooking, and Pigs Go to Market: Fun with Math and Shopping!

Axelrod, Amy. Pigs Will Be Pigs: Fun with Math and Money. Illustrated by Sharon McGinley-Nally. Aladdin. 1997.