Reading Together

Storybook Guide Based on Ellen Stoll Walsh’s “Balancing Act”

Explore math while reading and talking about this storybook.

Topic:

Activity Summary

Use this storybook guide with the book “Balancing Act.” Many public libraries have this book.

Reading guide

About the Story

“Balancing Act” is a simple yet engaging story about two mice who create a teeter-totter by balancing a stick on a rock. When a salamander joins them, it creates an imbalance until another salamander balances on the other side. Children can make predictions about what will happen when more and more creatures flock to either side of the stick.

Two mice balance a seesaw. Illustration from “Balancing Act.”

Words to Learn

ANIMAL WORDS
mouse, salamander, frog, bird

OTHER WORDS
teeter-totter, balance, luckily, stepped in

About the Math

“Balancing Act” is about balancing weight on either side of the teeter-totter. When reading the story, children can learn:

  • How the stick becomes balanced or unbalanced, depending on which creatures join the mice.
  • Balancing doesn’t depend on the number of animals on either side of the stick. Instead it depends on the weight on either side.
  • How to describe and compare weights. For example, the mouse and the salamander weigh more than just the mouse alone.
  • We can use tools, such as a teeter-totter or a scale, to measure weight.
Three animals on the left of the seesaw are being weighed down by animals on the right side of the seesaw. Illustration from “Balancing Act.”

Math Talk During Reading

  • MAKE A PREDICTION
    What will happen when the salamander joins the mice? How do you know?
  • TALK ABOUT BALANCING
    Do you think one side weighs more than the other side, or do both sides weigh the same? How can you make sure the stick is balanced?
  • NOTICE THE SYMMETRY
    Look at this page on the left and look at this page on the right. Do they look the same or different? What makes them look the same or different?

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

Activity After Reading

  • CONNECT THE STORY TO YOUR CHILD’S LIFE
    Have you ever played on a seesaw? What would happen if you sat on one side of the seesaw and the mouse sat on the other side?