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Mathematics of The Jungle Book (Digital Download) Review by Amber Smith

(early intermediate)
home made math

Every few years we read the Jungle Book, a collection of stories by Rudyard Kipling. We love the charming and heroic characters and the variety of adventures that are packed in-between the now worn covers. This year we got to add another element of fun by using a downloadable unit from called Mathematics of The Jungle Book.

For us, this was a perfect summer warm up unit, but it would be just as well to use in the winter as an excuse to get moving inside. Many of the units have physical activities to help you work out the mathematical equations. Leaping, running and jumping help us solve math questions from the text.

Units in the series include

Monkey Leap - measurement in distance and time

Panther Run – measurement in distance and time

Jungle Grid – map making and scale

Disguised Design – shapes and symmetry

How Much Heavies is a Sea Cow Than You? – measurement in weight

These activities were created with 3rd and 4th grade students in mind but there is an “advanced pathway” section included in many of the activities, allowing for intermediate mathematicians (grades 5 and 6) to complete the activities at a higher level. This is great for a family like mine where there is a broad age range. It would work well in a group where there is a diverse level of skills too. It will be fun to revisit these activities at a later season and do the advanced version of the activities next time if we wish to do so.

Get Swept Up in Math

In our story time Mowgli, the wolf cub, gets swept up by a troop of monkeys and carried of to their lair to meet the King. We follow the action in Unit One, by using the Monkey Leap lesson plan. In the lesson we estimated how far the monkey kept. In the book it was twenty feet at a bound.

The kids set their markers to estimate twenty feet. We checked our guesses and learned to convert our measurements to meters for the next part of the activity. Then we had some fun, testing if we could leap as far as the monkeys in the book. We used a local volley ball pit, but you could go to the beach, park or just your back yard. The kids had fun using different methods to improve their leaps. We learned that we aren’t as good at leaping as monkeys.

Using what we learned and clues from the text, we then figured out how far the monkeys lair was from the scene of the kidnapping. The Unit Guide walked us through every step and explained how to come to a mathematical conclusion. Several charts and graphs helped us to write out information or use manipulatives to show the data. With what we learned about distance and time, the rest of the unit helped us calculate how far the monkey lair must have been.

Reading Comprehension and Attention to Details

Each Unit used a portion of the Jungle Book as a base for creating a mathematical problem for us to solve. This was a great way to keep the kids listening, after all they never knew what part of the book we were going to use next for a new math game. The Panther Run had us use our maximum run speed to compare to Bagheera’s race to save Mowgli. As we learned the speed of a Panther we compared it to the speed of a monkey from Unit One. This helped the kids build on their past lessons, assuring comprehension.

Graphing Shapes and Building a Story Map

The kids loved to get their work on paper with the Jungle Grid and Disguised Design. They learned mapping, scale, shape and symmetry with guided grip paper assignments. They created a map of the Jungle Forest right out of the book. The kids were pleased to learn that Geography and Art can be math too.

Using 3D Modeling to Solve a Math Problem

Our favorite activity was one that covered weight and fractions, pulled straight from the story of the White Seal. I am sure you have wondered at some time, How much heavier is a sea cow than you? By creating scale models of a child and a sea cow out clay and comparing them with our home-made scale, we discovered much about fractions and weight. We learned a stick man is about 11% the weight of a sea cow. The kids had a great time creating and weighing their little people for accuracy. It was also fun to revisit the scale for advanced play. We often use it for manipulative learning in the younger grades, but this was a great way to capture the excitement of a tool our kids remember and loved using years ago.

A Story and a Unit for Any Season or Teacher

Overall these units were easy to reproduce and there was always more material that we needed. I would recommend this for a parent who is not very math savvy. The math concepts are strong, and they are well covered for teaching.  It would be a great way to test your child’s math ability with the advanced pathway opportunities. I admit that at first, I found some of the mathematical descriptions intimidating. I am not a strong math student, but that is no reason to keep my kids from being challenged. I am glad we did the unit and there was not a time I felt like I could not explain what we were doing.

This would also be a great break away unit for any transition time. Pairing this unit with the Jungle Book is a great way to maximize learning in several subject areas and increase reading comprehension by acting out many of the focal scenes. I hope you get a chance to check it out for yourself.

-Product review by Amber Smith, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, February, 2018