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Teaching Kindergarten Math With 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas'

written by: Donna Cosmato • edited by: Trent Lorcher • updated: 12/11/2013

Teach math skills with a Christmas favorite and see how quickly the kids learn. This is an interactive math lesson using characters from the story of the Grinch.

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    Whose turn is it? This lesson plan teaches the concepts of greater than, less than and equal numbers with educational activities and edible snacks. It takes about 45 minutes to teach and includes several interactive math projects. It can be used as a stand-alone lesson or as part of a unit on How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The objectives are:

    • Understand how to compare concrete objects by size.
    • Develop classification and observation skills.
    • Learn to follow oral directions.
    • Sort objects according to size.

    By learning these foundational concepts, children are prepared to process more complicated mathematical concepts in future lessons. This lesson engages little learners in a multi-sensory fashion to enhance their comprehension and retention.

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    Grinch Math Activities for Kids

    In this activity, children observe and categorize objects by relative size. They follow oral directions and draw pictures that are bigger or smaller than a given object. Guided discussion questions encourage them to compare and decide the size of certain objects.

    What you'll need:

    Start by showing a picture of Max the dog and saying something like this: “Max is small." Next, hold up a picture of the Grinch and say: “The Grinch is big." Finally, show a picture of Cindy Lou Who and ask: “Is Cindy Lou bigger or smaller than the Grinch?" “Is she bigger or smaller than Max?"

    Tape the pictures to the chalkboard arranging them from smallest to largest. Point to the smallest picture, and guide the class in sorting them by saying something like: “Small, medium, large," or "big, bigger, biggest." Present the concepts in various ways; young children learn by repetition and enjoy repeating activities that would bore older students.

    To complete the lesson, ask the students to draw and color a picture of something that is bigger than them. After they finish the first picture, ask them to draw and color a picture of an object that is smaller than them.

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    Learning Math With Green Snacks

    917 4004999 Celery sticks and green apples are needed for this green math project. The amounts you'll need depend on class size.

    1. Prior to class, wash and scrub the celery and apples. Cut the celery into sticks and core the apples. Slice the apples into wedges and dip the pieces into diluted lemon juice to prevent them from turning brown.

    2. Have the class sit at a table and place two paper towels in the center. Invite the class to help count in unison while placing five celery sticks on one napkin and two sticks on the other. Ask the children to decide which napkin has more celery sticks.

    3. Count out loud again to determine the total number of celery sticks. Move two celery sticks from the first napkin to the second napkin and ask which group has more – the first or the second group? The class counts to test the results, stating which group has more or less. Repeat the lesson using various combinations, and then set the celery sticks aside for later.

    4. Next, place an uneven amount of apple wedges on the two napkins. Guide the class through counting and determining which group has more and which has less. Next, ask the children to determine how many apples must be added to the smaller group to make the amounts equal. Repeat the lesson, changing the sequence and combination of apples and encouraging class participation.

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    Reading the Story and Snack

    Have the kids wash their hands and be seated. Offer them some celery sticks and apple wedges for a snack. While they eat their snack, read How the Grinch Stole Christmas to reinforce prior lessons and increase retention.

    Teaching kindergarten math this way is fun for everyone. By the end of the lesson, the children know the story, understand how to compare and sort objects by size, and enjoy a healthy snack.

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    Lesson Extension and Reading Lists

    Try some of these exceptional math-themed books to extend the lesson and provide additional layers of learning and experience for emergent mathematicians. These books can be utilized by teachers, homeschool educators, or involved parents to reinforce and support this lesson plan.

    • Sir Cumference and the Round Table, Cindy Neuschwander, [Charlesbridge, 1997]
    • If You Were a Fraction, Trisha Speed Shaskan, [Picture Window Books, 2009]
    • Can You Eat a Fraction?, Minn Mankato, [Yellow Umbrella Books, 2002]


Teacher Lesson Plans - Unit Study of How the Grinch Stole Christmas

These teacher lesson plans form a unit study for the children's book How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss. These elementary lesson plans include sequencing activities, vocabulary development, and an age-appropriate art project.
  1. How the Grinch Stole Christmas: Lesson Plan For the Primary Grades
  2. Teaching Kindergarten Math With 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas'
  3. How the Grinch Stole Christmas: An Elementary Art Lesson