Literature Connection:

"How Many, How Much" by Shel Silverstein

Mathematical Strand:



The students will decide on the reasonableness and relative magnitude of situations in their lives as Shel Silverstein did in the poem "How Many, How Much".

Grade Level:


Lesson Created by:

Debbie Sylvester and Pat Crosby, Ft. Riley Middle School, Ft. Riley, KS

Lesson Description:

  • Materials: Poem: "How Many, How Much" by Shel Silverstein.
  • Other Resources: Worksheet (see below)

1. Launching the lesson – Read the poem. Discuss with the students what quantities are actually measurable and what quantities need to be estimated. Ask what a value is in mathematics and what values we place on people, belongings and events. What are reasonable values for their ideas?

2. Using the worksheet How Many, How Much, have students fill out what they think is a reasonable answer for each listed item. When they finish, have them compare their thoughts with those of a neighbor.

3. As a class discuss what other situations have values. Have the students complete the second part of the work sheet. Share answers when finished.


At home, find 3 more situations that have value. Be sure to ask parents and siblings for their ideas.


Name ____________________________________


Today we read the poem How Many, How Much by Shel Silverstein. This speaks of several normal events that have a certain life spans, like the wear on a screen door or the good in a day. Think about it for a while… Just how many slices are there in a bread? What is a good range of values for each of the events discussed?

slams in an old screen door ________________________________________________________________

slices in a bread ____________________________________________________________________

good inside a day ____________________________________________________________________

love inside a friend ____________________________________________________________________

Think about it.

What are some other things that have a range of values?

List 5 different situations and their possible limits. Tell why you think that your range is reasonable for each.






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Copyright 2001 S.Ma.R.T.Books and Kansas State University