Reading Together

Storybook Guide Based on Sandra Boynton’s “Hippos Go Berserk!”

Explore math while reading and talking about this storybook.

Topic:

Activity Summary

Use this storybook guide with the book “Hippos Go Berserk!” Many public libraries have this book.

Reading guide

About the Story

“Hippos Go Berserk!” is about one lonely hippo who invites his friends over for a party. The hippos fill the house, go berserk, and then leave in groups until the first hippo is lonely again, missing his 44 friends. Children will enjoy counting the hippos and guessing how many friends will show up next.

A hippo stands at the door and greets three other hippos who walk up to the house. Illustration from “Hippos Go Berserk!”

Words to Learn

NUMBER WORDS AND SYMBOLS
one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

OTHER WORDS
hippo, berserk, alone, guest

About the Math

“Hippos Go Berserk!” is a counting book. While reading the story and counting the hippos that come and go, children can learn:

  • How to say the counting words from one through nine forward and backward.
  • How to count the total number of hippos.
  • How to carefully count each hippo only once, even when some hippos are partially covering one another.
Four hippos wear party hats while two are playing the trumpet. Illustration from “Hippos Go Berserk!”

Math Talk During Reading

  • PRACTICE CAREFULLY COUNTING THE NUMBER OF HIPPOS
    How many hippos do you see? Let’s point to each hippo as we count it.
  • ESTIMATE THE NUMBER OF HIPPOS IN ALL
    We started with one lonely hippo, and then groups of two and three hippos arrived. About how many hippos do you think we have now? How do you know?
  • NOTICE THAT THE NUMBER IN THE CORNER OF THE PAGE MAY NOT MATCH THE TOTAL NUMBER OF HIPPOS
    The number 3 means three more hippos just arrived. We already had three hippos, so how many do we see now altogether on the page?

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

Activity After Reading

  • PRACTICE RECITING THE NUMBERS IN THE STORY FORWARD AND BACKWARD
    Let’s count together! One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine. Now backwards: nine, eight, seven, six, five…
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