Monday, September 3, 2012

Equal Shmequal

What do people mean when they say they want something to be equal? Equal Shmequalhelps children understand the mathematics involved in making a game of tug of war equal between a group of animals. The focus at first is on making things fair.

As the animals work through the math involved they realize that to make things fair they have to understand the math involved with the game. Numbers alone do not make for a balanced game of tug of war. One large creature can beat a much larger group of smaller creatures if he is stronger. As the animals continue to work on the problem, they also learn that balance is not alone enough to make an equal contest. Effort is another factor that plays into the contest.

I thought the strongest part of the book was watching the animals use the seesaw to try to balance out weight as a factor in creating balanced teams. The premise was a bit unrealistic. Children will find that teams and life are rarely completely fair and balanced as the theme of this book pushes. However, I did think using animals was an interesting way to introduce children to the idea that there is a difference between having numerical balance, the same number of animals, and weight balance. From the pictures, children can see that there is balance in the numbers, but clearly not balance in the outcome until the weights are balanced. Even then, when the bear does not try, the outcome is not as expected.

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