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The Grapes of Math: Mind-Stretching Math Riddles (Scholastic Bookshelf) by Greg Tang, Harry Briggs (Illustrator) Paperback – July 12, 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 72 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: by Greg Tang, Harry Briggs (Illustrator) (July 12, 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 0618960635
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618960637
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 9 x 0.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,043,959 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Greg Tang earned his B.A. and M.A. degrees in economics from Harvard University and an M.A. in math education from New York University. Greg Tang has taught students of all ages, from kindergarten to college, and has used his problem-solving methods to create successful products and companies across many industries. He lives in Belmont, Massachusetts, with his three children. Greg's web address is www.gregtang.com.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Greg Tang has put together a series of counting riddles which challenge you to find short cuts to a faster answer. Each problem provides the introduction to a new challenge. The riddles are written in verse and encourage you to develop your skills in patern recognition, grouping, and multi-step thinking. The book will be as much fun for parents as for youngsters, and can provide the basis for spotting interesting problems in the world around you. Clever rhymes, hints, and colorful illustrations combine to provide plenty of visual and mental stimulation. The riddles focus on natural objects like animals, insects, plants, and fruit to increase awareness of the patterns occuring around us.
The riddles have fun names (like Fish School, Grapes of Math, Win-Doze, and For the Birds). My favorite riddles were Ant Attack and It's a Jungle Out There.
The left hand page contains a colorful computer illustration provided by Harry Briggs. These are large and appropriately ambiguous to hide the patterns a little. Color and shape are especially used well to complicate the counting problem. On the right hand page is a riddle, containing a clue at the end. "To help you find the right amount/Group by fives before you count" is one such clue. At the back of the book are the solutions to each riddle.
Pattern recognition riddles help you to see squares and rectangles within more complex designs. You are also encouraged to see diamonds as being squares rotated by 45 degrees. Many times a pattern is repeated, and that becomes the basis of multiplication.
Grouping encourages you to add common sums. An example would be sets of (8 + 3) + (6 + 5) + (4 + 7) = 33. By seeing that you can add to common subnumbers, you quickly find three elevens and then multiply by 3 in your head.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is a collection of 16 illustrated poems. In the back are the complete solutions. Most of the riddles deal with the repeated addition style of multiplication, but with a twist. In an array of five rows and five columns, there may be three missing. So, in order to find the total of 22 quickly, the student is guided to multiply five times five and then subtract the three missing ones.
The rhymes are catchy with the question in a different color font to help students when learning to decipher word problems. There is also a tip to the mental math solution following the question. The goal of this book is assisting students in learning to manipulate groups of objects in their mind.
I would suggest using a few poems as examples with real manipulatives and demonstrating to students how and why the solution can be found mentally. Read the solution along with them and physically move objects to show how they can multiply and then add or subtract, or even regroup objects. When students begin to catch on, invite them to try some more from the book, and write out the solutions before checking their answers. Advanced students may even want to create their own puzzles and illustrations. As an extra challenge, they can write the poems to go along with it. All of Tang's poems are written in couplets and this has the potential for being a good integration with language arts.
Why 5 stars?:
Tang has crafted a wonderful set of thinking exercises for students to explore mathematical properties through the use of patterns. By practicing with these poems, hopefully they will change the way in which they "see" difficult problems and be able to visualize in a way that makes sense to them.
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Format: Hardcover
The Grapes of Math targets elementary students around the ages of 8-12, yet can be used in a simpler way with even younger children as an introduction to counting. There are sixteen colorful counting problems in the book, which are accompanied by a poem that provides a hint at counting the objects using a different method. Children are instructed not to count individual objects in the regular manner - "1...2...3..." - but rather to open their minds to new ways of perceiving the problems. Readers are encouraged to use creative methods, such as finding patterns, grouping, and using advanced problem-solving skills. These strategies direct students to solve a problem faster and more efficiently, and greatly incorporate the use of addition, subtraction and multiplication.

A teacher could use The Grapes of Math in many ways. One could post a problem each day, or week, on the board for children to solve at the beginning of a math lesson, to get students thinking mathematically, and on a higher level. Instructors could also break a class into pairs or small groups and photocopy the sixteen different problems, passing out a different problem to each pair/group. The children could have an allotted amount of time in which to come up with creative ways to count the objects on the page. After the pair/group has found several ways, they could vote on the most efficient method. Then the students could take turns sharing their solutions with the class. Furthermore, a teacher could share the book with his/her class, taking suggestions for the various problems and solving as a whole-class group. As a follow-up activity, children could design their own "counting problems," making colorful pictures with accompanying poetry to give their readers hints - such as the layout of The Grapes of Math.
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