Gruesome Math

Zoe has a recent fascination with blood – not the real kind (luckily), but the kind that appears in stories when someone gets hurt.  Here is an example of how an innocent math problem turned into a gruesome tale.  I was a bit disturbed (as well as mildly amused), but decided that there was no harm in sneaking in a few extra math questions 🙂 .

Me: Two girls were playing on a playground and two more girls came to join them.  How many girls are now playing on the playground?
Zoe: I don’t know.
Me: Why don’t you try to picture them and count.
Zoe: One, two…three, four. Four!
Me: Yep, there are now four girls playing.
Zoe: And then one more came.
Me: Oh yeah? How many are there now.
Zoe: (counting on her fingers) One, two, three, four, five.  Five!

I was going to leave it at that, but Zoe was clearly in a storytelling mood.

Zoe: And then a squirrel and a dog came, and the dog bit the squirrel.
Me: Did the girls try to help the squirrel?
Zoe: Yes, but then the dog bit the girls and they started bleeding and had to go to the doctor.
Me: Did the dog bite all the girls or just some of them?
Zoe: (After some thought) Two girls.
Me: Oh, so only two went to the doctor. So how many were left on the playground?
(At this point I show five fingers and hide two of them.)
Zoe: Three! Three girls were left on the playground. But then another dog came.
Me: Oh no!
Zoe: And the girls started fighting with the dogs and there was a lot of blood!

At this point, the story was interrupted by Katie walking into the room and demanding to play with me.  I was both curious and a little scared to find out how the story might have continued otherwise.

About aofradkin

I enjoy thinking about presenting mathematical concepts to young children in exciting and engaging ways.
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2 Responses to Gruesome Math

  1. Pingback: Math Teachers at Play #92 |

  2. David says:

    I see that Zoe gruesome since I saw her last!


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