Thursday, February 18, 2010

Pizza and Pasta Math

So... there are a whole bunch of ways to use pizza and pasta to explore mathematical concepts. I was really hoping to focus on fractions (with pizza at, at least), but the book I wanted to review for that concept wasn't available... so, I settled for these Pizza Counting... not that it isn't great in its own way! As for pasta, this was a wee bit harder, but I did find one book that took a creative approach to pizza and pasta and have somewhat of a mathematical concept!

Dobson, Christina.
Pizza Counting.
Guided Reading Level: M
Review copy borrowed from local library.

In this clever book children will quickly catch on that the counting takes place based on the number of different toppings found on each of the pizzas. The book is great for practicing not only counting skills, but also simple addition for children who still need to visualize numbers and actually count up the two (or more) items to come up with the total (or sum). The crazily-decorated pizzas found within (a clock, a kitten, etc.) will have children giggling and anxious for what's to come! The book also provides interesting trivia - all related to pizza... Do you know how many 12 inch pizzas placed crust to crust are needed to build a path to the moon? Fractions are also briefly introduced, but I think I would find myself straying away from these pages, as fractions are supposed to represent equal parts and that isn't necessarily the case here (what, with crazy faces/decorations and all). I think the book would be most useful for simple counting and addition!

Learning/Reading Activity:
  • I have created an addition work packet to coincide with the pizzas in the book, based on counting specific toppings and then adding to see the combined totals. The packet can be downloaded here. (I've recently upgraded to Microsoft Word 2010 - the packet appears to have saved/downloaded as a .docx file. I tested this on my other computer with an older version of Word and it formatted correctly. If you have trouble, leave a comment here and I'll save it on the other computer as just a .doc file and reupload!)
Hardesty, Constance.
Grow Your Own Pizza: Gardening Plans and Recipes for Kids.
Fulcrum Publishing.
Review copy borrowed from local library.

What a super-fun book for kids (and adults)! This book provides readers with the chance to get creative with their gardening, while at the same time encouraging healthy eating habits and using mathematical concepts (most appropriate for older children, but still manageable with the younger ones)!

Three particular gardening plans and recipes are appropriate for this week's pizza and pasta theme: Queen Margherita's Pizza Garden (easy gardening), Your Own Personal Pizza Garden (medium gardening skills), and It's-Not-Spaghetti Garden (advanced gardening). I'm going to separate the remainder of this review based on those three categories!

Queen Margherita's Pizza Garden
  • This garden is ideal for beginning gardeners: 3 simple plants (tomatoes, garlic and basil).
  • The garden is created in the shape of a rectangle (perfect to discuss with the youngest gardeners)... or you can get more complex with older children by discussing the gardening plot as "area."
  • The garden can also be started (and fully grown) indoors as a "container" garden.
  • The recipe itself is a no-oven recipe (although it does require microwaving)
Your Personal Pizza Garden
  • This garden is ideal for those of you who have some minimal gardening experience: 7 ingredients (oregano, basil, tomatoes, green onions, bell peppers, zucchini, garlic).
  • The garden is actually shaped in a triangle. Again, this allows the perfect opportunity to discuss either shapes or area, depending on your child(ren)'s math skills!
  • Again, this garden too, can be started (and completed) as a container garden if space is limited or unavailable!
  • A suggested activity is inviting 11 of your child's friends to join in on the personal pizza making fun, as the pizza makes 12 servings!
It's-Not-Spaghetti Garden
  • This garden is ideal for more advanced gardeners: again 7 ingredients (however, a bit more needy of TLC) - carrots, garlic, parsley, basil, bell peppers, spaghetti squash, yellow summer squash.
  • Sorry, no fancy shape here!
  • This not-spaghetti garden has growers experimenting with spaghetti squash as a healthier alternative to actual spaghetti (interesting for children to see that spaghetti looking "stuff" can come out of that squash) - and from what I hear, it's even better than spaghetti... I have yet to that experimental!
  • Container gardening plans are also available for this garden - a cool thought, knowing not everyone has a backyard with ample garden-growing space!
  • This garden/recipe also has directions to create a nearly homemade primavera sauce to compliment your spaghetti squash meal!
This is an awesome book, chuck full of neat gardening activities (spring salad bow garden, salsa garden, rainbow garden, be-berry-patient patch, Three Sisters Native American garden, stir fry garden... to name a few others) that allow parents and children to work alongside each other and experience that sense of accomplishment at having grown so many home-grown foods! Math can be included in gardening activities in any number of ways... from staking out the garden, to planting the seeds according to package directions to measuring the amount of water each plant is given! Definitely something to check out!

If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to I am an Amazon Affiliate, so any purchases you make after clicking these images will result in my receiving a small percentage of the sale price!