Reading Together

Storybook Guide Based on Robie H. Harris’s “Crash! Boom! A Math Tale”

Topic:

Activity Summary

Use this storybook guide with the book “Crash! Boom! A Math Tale.” Many public libraries have this book.

Reading guide

About the Story

Elephant is playing with blocks and decides to build a tower as tall as itself. Elephant makes a stack of one, two, three, four blocks with their longer side facing up. It’s the same height as Elephant until CRASH! BOOM! it all comes down! Elephant tries again and places each block so that its shorter side faces up. Now Elephant needs eight blocks to make a tower “as tall as me.” But CRASH! BOOM! it all comes down again! Find out how Elephant uses different sized blocks to make two more stacks as tall as it is.

An elephant stacks four wooden blocks. Illustration from “Crash! Boom! A Math Tale.”

Words to Learn

NUMBER SYMBOLS AND WORDS
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, more

SPATIAL WORDS
up, down, flat

MEASUREMENT WORDS
tall, short, as tall as, shorter than

About the Math

Crash! Boom! has ideas about counting, measurement, and spatial relations. While reading the story, your child can learn how:

  • To count the number of blocks as we add more to find out how many we have in total. For example, Elephant starts with two blocks and then adds two more. Elephant counts one, two, three, four to find out that now there are four blocks.
  • To think about measurement. To make a tall tower, Elephant first arranges the blocks so they are stacked with their taller side facing up, and then makes a tower with their shorter side facing up. But both towers are the same height.
  • Spatial and measurement words can mean the opposite of one another: For example, Elephant builds a tower up, but when it crashes it comes down.
An elephant smiles as they count four wooden blocks. Illustration from “Crash! Boom! A Math Tale.”

Math Talk During Reading

  • GUESS HOW MANY BLOCKS ELEPHANT WILL USE
    If Elephant wants to build a tower as tall as itself, how many blocks like these do you think Elephant will use? Let’s keep reading to see if our guess is right.
  • NOTICE WHAT HAPPENS TO THE TOTAL NUMBER OF BLOCKS WHEN WE ADD MORE
    Elephant started with two blocks, then added two more. Let’s count to find out how many blocks Elephant has now.
  • ON THE LAST TA-DAH PAGE SPREAD
    How can one longer block be the same height as eight shorter blocks?
  • DISCUSS SPATIAL AND MEASUREMENT WORDS THAT ARE OPPOSITE
    Up is the opposite of down and tall is the opposite of short. Can you think of two more words that are opposites?

Try to come up with some of your own questions and comments, too!

Activity After Reading

Use blocks or other building toys to make a tower. First, decide how tall you want to build and then guess how many blocks you’ll need. Finally, build a tower with your child and count the number of blocks you used to see if your guess was correct.

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