Saturday, April 25, 2015

Counting Wildflowers: A Book Review

I know the work of the author, Bruce McMillan, from my days teaching in the classroom. He wrote other easy math books that made an impact. In Counting Wildflowers, he delivers once again. While an older book (1986), it helps younger children explore counting, colors, and native wildflowers. The simple concept goes from one to twenty. Under a picture of a flower (labeled above), the number is listed, as well as a picture representation of the number and the number written out. While simple, it has several ways to interact with the material, such as color, words, labels, counting, flowers, petal types, etc. At the end is a list of the wildflowers, their scientific names, and where to find them. For example, 17 is Black-eyed Susan, Rudbeckia hirta: Found June through October in fields, prairies, open woods.

Some flowers included are water lilies, spiderwort, true forget me not, mullein pink, chickweed, maltese cross, day lily, bee balm, wild geranium, and more!

I love the concept of this book! To extend it, I might consider making a nature counting book similar to this, but use pictures of the flower to go on the numbered pages. Perhaps, I'd even put a scrap of paper or fabric with the same color. I also LOVE the idea of making a book like this collaboratively with my children or a group of kids with flowers they know close by. The author is from Maine and, while I know many of the flowers, there were others I still need to learn. I think it would be fun to hunt out these flowers and compile them with one of my favorite young artists to make another book like this that is personalized. Thanks for the inspiration! We could even use the book to go on a nature walk, searching for the various flowers in our book.

I found other ideas to extend the experience. This post gives math extensions. The author also said this about the book, "My college degree is in biology and so when I began work on my first math concept book, Counting Wildflowers(Lothrop), it was also a taxonomy lesson. My editor and I agreed that children would be interested in wildflowers rather than garden flowers. It was a search for wildflowers, which blossom at various times throughout the season. Every species of flower has its own biological clock. That's why I couldn't photograph dandelions-they had already blossomed and gone to seed by the time I began shooting." (Found here.)

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