Puzzlers offers a parade of playful animals, ranging from a wacky monkey to a strutting peacock, made of numbers. But a closer look reveals that each number, or group of numbers, has a unique characteristic that readers can uncover. On each double-page spread a series of boxes shows numbers acrobatically demonstrating what quality to look for: Can you find the widest number in the duck? How about the tallest number in the toucan? Each spread gives the reader a bit more of a challenge, ending in an animal that no one's ever seen before!
Introduce the book:
READING THE BOOK
Puzzlers Frontis and Title Page:
Look at the Puzzlers frontis page. What's happening here? The numbers on the left of the page have almost no color. As the reader's eye moves right, the numbers change shape and become more colorful.
Ask the children if any of the numbers remind them of something. (The 5 looks like a wing. The two long 9's with 3's on the bottom look like legs and feet.)
Turn to the title page. What have the numbers made? (a crane)
Talk about the word "metamorphosis" (one thing changing its shape to become something else). The big 5 has become the wing of the bird and the long 9's are legs. Together all the numbers make a crane, which is an illusion. It looks like a crane but it's actually numbers. The metamorphosis became an illusion.
The rest of the book:
Go through the book page by page with the children and encourage them to do the puzzlers themselves (find the widest number, etc.)
Talk about the word puzzle as it applies to this book.
After the children have found the one puzzler suggested on each page, ask them to find others as they read the book again. The other concepts to be found are listed at the back of the book.
Discuss the textures of the different papers that make up the animals.
What are the representations of the animals made of? (Crayons, paint, a combination of materials, etc..)
Ask if the textures feel like the animal.
Write a story about the monkey or the peacock made out of numbers.
Ask the children to pick one page on which to concentrate. An example is the rooster.
At the end of the book, the Crazy Creature has a body part from each of the other animals in the book. Play a game and ask the children to find the number and identify the body part it represents and then find the animal in the book:
Draw an animal of numbers.
Ask the children to make their own monkey illusion from different numbers. They can also work with another animal.
One method for getting started:
Xerox pictures of simple animals such as a fish or a bird. Ask the children to place a piece of tracing paper over the picture . They can make that animal out of numbers by using the picture as a guide.
Make a puzzler out of shapes.
Pick one of the Puzzlers and ask the children to make it out of other shapes. Try circles and triangles.
Your comments on the use of these materials will be welcomed. Please contact Suse MacDonald with any thoughts, photographs or results.
This activity sheet is copyrighted by Suse MacDonald and Bill Oakes but may be photocopied for your colleagues and sold only for the cost of printing.