Literature Connection:

Math Curse by Jon Scieszka

Mathematical Strand:

Number and Operation


Students will understand everyday uses of numbers and relationships of numbers.

Grade Level:


Lesson Created by:

Toni Haddock, Eugene Field Elementary, Manhattan, KS

Lesson Description:


  • Math Curse by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith, newspapers, scissors, white drawing paper, markers, crayons

1. Launching the Lesson (engage):

  1. Ask children what they think the following means: "You can think of almost everything as a math problem."
  2. Let volunteers give examples of things from the classroom that could be thought of in terms of a math problem. Tell students to listen to see if any of their ideas are mentioned in the following story.
  3. Read Math Curse.

2. Developing the Lesson:

  1. Give each child a section of newspaper and ask them to cut out examples of uses of math. Allow about 5 minutes. Let them share their clippings in small groups and with the whole class. As each clipping is shared, call attention to the math involved and elaborate if appropriate.
  2. Tell students that we will be making a class book of how math is a part of our lives. Each child will create a page of the book. The pages should have open-ended situations involving people or things outside of school. After writing about the situations students should illustrate without giving away the answer. Students should be made aware that they will be asked to share, and should know the answers to the problems they pose. Challenge students to "stump" their classmates. (The teacher might want to create an example, however this can limit student creativity.)

3. Closure/ Discussion/Elaboration:

  1. The next day, put students into groups of two. Trade pages and solve the problems. As time allows, let volunteers share their pages while partners show the solution.
  2. Bind the pages as a class book and put in a place that is readily accessible to students. Share at parent-teacher-student conferences. (Privately help students whose problems show a lack of understanding. Help them make corrections so their pages may be a part of the book.)
  3. As an extension, categorize newspaper clippings into math topics and put on posters to display around the room.
  4. The book Math Curse could be read several times as part of math lessons for other mathematical strands.

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