Apr 132015

Hula Hoop Math Activity {Booking Across the USA} | Alldonemonkey.com

I am so thrilled to be participating in the Booking Across the USA series again this year.  While last year we explored West Virginia, this time I get to honor an author or illustrator from my home state of North Carolina.

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Vanessa Brantley-Newton is the illustrator for a number of popular children’s books, including We Shall Overcome: The Story of a Song, My Three Best Friends and Me, Zulay, and Presenting . . . Tallulah(the latter written by none other than Tori Spelling!). She also authored and illustrated Let Freedom Sing and Don’t Let Auntie Mabel Bless the Table.

So imagine my delight when I discovered that this talented author/illustrator lives not only in my home state of North Carolina but in my hometown of Charlotte!

Ms. Brantley-Newton has a very distinctive style, which she says was inspired by retro art and fashion of the 1950s and 60s.  Her great inspiration growing up? Ezra Jack Keats.  Reading his legendary The Snowy Day as a child marked a turning point for her, as it was the first time she saw a child in a picture book that looked like her.  She hopes to inspire another generation of young readers through her own work.

For this post I chose to focus on the wonderful book The Hula Hoopin’ Queen, written by Thelma Godin.  It is a the story of a young girl in Harlem caught up in the midst of a neighborhood hula hoopin’ rivalry.  When her single-minded pursuit causes her to ruin a neighbor’s birthday cake, everyone is surprised to discover that the older woman is a hula hoopin’ queen herself and understands about “that itch.”  A book about staying young at heart.

To have some fun with this book (and fit in a little “school time”) the Monkeys and I did a hula hoop math activity learning about bar graphs.

Hula Hoop Math Activity {Booking Across the USA} | Alldonemonkey.com

First, I had Monkey try out the hula hoop (called a “hula poop” by his younger brother, who of course was eager to play along) and see how many times he could get it to spin around his hips.  We recorded each attempt, noting the number of spins for each one.  (I had to keep a close watch on this, as Monkey was likely to call out, “One thousand!” or “One billion trillion!”)

After a number of attempts (and a lot of screaming and yelling and the boys’ chasing each other around with the hula hoop), we moved to Phase 2, making our bar graph.

I had showed Monkey some bar graphs earlier, plus he had seen them in the really fun book Math Curse, which describes the bars on the graph as looking like small buildings.  The buildings (or bars) on our graph were the number of times he could each number of spins – how many times he could spin it once, how many times he could spin it twice, etc.

Looking back, for a first-time graph maker it would have been easier if both axes in our graph weren’t numbers.  It was really easy to get mixed up what each side was for (the number of spins or the number of times he did them).  It would have been much clearer if we had done the number of red hula hoops vs the number of blue ones, etc.  I had no plans to actually buy that many hula hoops (!), but instead, we could have counted the hula hoops in the book.

In any case, once the confusion was cleared up, Monkey “got” the bar graph right away – and had fun getting the “hula hoopin’ itch” himself!

Booking Across the USAThis post is part of the Booking Across the USA series organized by Jodie of Growing Book by Book.  This is a follow up to the first Booking Across the USA series from last year, when we learned about West Virginia!  Be sure to check out all the posts in this year’s series, as we share crafts and activities inspired by a beloved children’s author/illustrator from each of the 50 states!

This year’s participants:

  6 Responses to “Hula Hoop Math Activity {Booking Across America}”

  1. Thank you so much for introducing us to this book! I am going to see if our library has it!!!! 🙂

  2. […] Vanessa Brantley-Newton is the highlighted illustrator at All Done Monkey. […]

  3. I really enjoyed this book! Thanks so much for being part of the Booking Across the USA project!

  4. What a clever literature-based activity. It’s nice to hear what was confusing so I can adjust. I have 3 kids old enough to attempt hula-hooping, so we could make a bar graph with people as categories. Although, having a “winner” isn’t always a good idea here . . .

    • Thank you! Yes, that could get a little tricky 😉 Maybe you could count spins vs rolls on the ground? Or number of spins on different body parts?

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