Math Talk + Read Aloud Guide: How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Reading Christmas stories is a great way to get in the holiday spirit, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is at the top of my list. Add some spice (aka foundational math skills) to your holiday read aloud by sprinkling in some math talk!

The guide below outlines six places in How the Grinch Stole Christmas! where you can incorporate math questions that will build your child’s numeracy skills. Put on your Christmas onesie and snuggle up with this fun holiday treat!

Bring out the Math

  1. “But I think that the most likely reason of all/ May have been that his heart was two sizes too small.” Hold out your first as a way to show your child the average size of a human heart. Then, ask them to show you with their hands how big they think the Grinch’s heart is. This builds the skill of comparing characteristics as your child explains how the two heart sizes relate to each other.

  1. “Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small, Would stand close together, with Christmas bells ringing. They’d stand hand-in-hand. And the Whos would start singing!” Comparing characteristics is the foundation for understanding measurement. Look at all of the different Whos and identify the tallest and shortest Who.

  1. “This is stop number one,” the old Grinch Claus hissed/ And he climbed to the roof, empty bags in his fist.” Using position words, such as above and below, help your child develop the foundation for spatial awareness. You can work on using position words in most, if not all, of the illustrations in this book!

  1. “Then he stuck his head out of the fireplace flue/ Where the little Who stockings all hung in a row. “These stockings,” he grinned, “are the first things to go!” Counting how many and comparing quantities help your child develop a strong understanding of number. When possible, ask your child to count objects in a way that connects with the text, such as this moment when the Grinch takes all of the poor Who stockings.

  1. “Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!” At this turning point in the book, ask “What do you think will happen next?” If you have read this book before, this prompt may not work, but I want to highlight how asking your child to predict is both a literacy and numeracy skill. Algebraic thinking is all about finding patterns, and asking your child to predict encourages them to find patterns across previously read books and their own experience. In this moment, your child can draw on any other plot where the bad guy discovers his evil plan has been foiled.

  1. “That the Grinch’s small heart/ Grew three sizes that day!” If you asked about the size of the Grinch’s heart at the beginning of book, follow up and ask your child how big they think the Grinch’s heart is now. This question helps your child compare sizes and think about what it means for something to grow larger.

Final Notes

The above examples are just a few ways to incorporate math talk into this amazing holiday book. The illustrations are rich with opportunities to count and use position words, and the imaginative depictions of the Whos are great for comparing characteristics.

Last but not least, don’t over do it! Instead of asking all of these questions in one read aloud, choose a few that you think your child will be most interested in.

More on Math Talk

What to learn more about math talk? Check out these posts:

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