Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons

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This is an activity based on the picture book Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons.

Achievement Objectives
NA1-3: Know groupings with five, within ten, and with ten.
Specific Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to accurately model subtraction equations using equipment.

Description of Mathematics

Subtraction can be represented in contexts of “taking away” or loss to the original set.

Subtraction “stories” can be represented with numerals and symbols

Required Resource Materials
  • Blank Tens Frames
  • Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by Eric Litwin
  • Buttons
  • Blutac or Velcro dots

Buttons Come and Buttons Go

This activity is based on the picture book Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons.

Author: Eric Litwin
Illustrator: James Dean
Publisher: Harper Collins Children (2012)
ISBN: 978-0-06-211058-9

Pete the Cat is wearing his favourite shirt with the 4 groovy buttons and keeps singing his favourite song even when the buttons pop off one by one. Each “loss” is recorded as a subtraction equation until Pete is left with no buttons. And discovers even though buttons come and go you always have your bellybutton!

Lesson Sequence:

  1. Prior to reading, warm up with some 1-1 counting of buttons or counters. Then practice subitising (instantly being able to recognise the numbers of objects in a small group without counting them) using fives frames with dots or placing large buttons in sets up to 5 on the whiteboard.
  2. Introduce the book and explore the number of buttons on the cover and on the endpapers. Can you tell me how many yellow buttons there without counting each one? Can you tell how many holes are in the button?
  3. Share the book with your students, pausing to trace the numerals and count the buttons each time one pops off.
  4. Re-read the book, this time modeling the popping off story with buttons on a large fives frame by recording the equations each time. Stress the meaning of the subtraction sign each time.
  5. Working with a small group, have the students model subtraction stories with buttons on a fives or tens frame (depending on the needs of students). Draw a character wearing a jacket in the modeling book or on a sheet of paper and use the frame as the row (or double breasted rows) of buttons. Record the story in words and symbols.
  6. The story and song can be downloaded as a mp3 file for independent re-readings or for shared reading at:
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Level One