This is an activity based on the picture book Maths Curse
Students will be able to create a contextualized problem and provide alternative strategies for solving it.
- The process of creating a problem for others to solve supports flexibility in understanding the elements within a problem.
- The different areas of mathematics are represented by different types of problems (probability within statistics, area within measurement etc.) However, the four operations remain the tools for solving any problem.
Well that’s a problem!
This activity is based on the picture book: Maths Curse
Author: Jon Scieszka
Illustrator: Lane Smith
Publisher: Puffin (1995)
A maths teacher, Mrs. Fibonacci, curses her students when she tells them maths is everywhere and almost everything can be seen as a maths problem. The main character spends torturous (and humourous) week solving problems until she finds a way to escape.
- Prior to reading, warm up by asking students to brainstorm about all the maths they may have done today before getting to maths class. Add your own examples. Make a note of the strand beside each example: Number, Algebra, Measurement, Geometry, Statistics, and some of the sub categories: fractions, time, area, graphing, probability etc.
- Share the book with your students. As you read the story, relate the examples and problems to the strand labels and take some time to solve a few problems together. Ask students to debate the assertion: “You can think of almost everything as a maths problem.”
- Discuss a few examples of problems in the book:
What made them funny?
What was the maths involved?
How did the presentation support the humour and the maths?
What makes for an engaging problem?
- After reading, assign students in small groups a section of the class timetable. Their assignment is to create an interesting and funny problem related to the activities that happen during that section of time in the school day. Construct a set of criteria for what the problem must include, the level at which it is to be pitched and the presentation requirements for publication. Ask students to solve their problem thinking about two different ways someone could approach and solve.
- Once problems have been constructed and trialed, publish the set as a class book with room for strategy explanations and recording to be added as other students solve them.