Saturday, November 10, 2012

Tyrannosaurus Math

Title: Tyrannosaurus Math
Author: Michelle Markel
Illustrator: Doug Cushman
Copyright Date: 2009
Genre: Fiction
Theme: Dinosaurs, math, problem-solving
Grades: K-3
Awards: WINNER Cooperative Children's Book Center Choices (Source)


From the moment when he first cracked out of his egg, the dinosaur hero of this book sets himself apart from his friends with his unique passion; he loved math. Throughout the book, Tyrannosaurus Math uses math skills to learn about his world and solve problems that arise in his life; showing examples of addition, counting by fives, pictographs, and even fractions. 

How does Tyrannosaurus Math save the day with his amazing arithmetic abilities? Read the book to find out.  

Pre-reading Activity

Before diving into this book, teachers may want to get their students thinking about the hidden math people use everyday. Teachers can ask students to share a time in their lives they use math outside of the classroom. Students may require an example from the teacher as an ice breaker to help them get their brains going. Teachers can give examples such as counting out coins for a parking meter, use multiplication to scale up amounts of ingredients needed for a recipe for a large party, or using division/fractions to split up a pizza equally among friends. With students thinking and sharing about this math in their own lives, explain that you are going to be reading a book about a very special dinosaur who also uses math in his life and that they should look for what math skills he uses.

During the Reading Activity

This book, along with having a story narrative, is full of math problems. Teachers might find it amusing to put sticky notes over the answers to the math problems and see if the class can solve the problems along with Tyrannosaurus Math.

Post-reading Activity

After reading this book, students can take time to write their own math stories in emulation of this book, either starring themselves, their own character, or even as another Tyrannosaurus Math adventure. Teachers may also benefit from using this style of storytelling and characters for presenting word problems; having a continuous narrative with multiple problems, since the phrase "word problem" seems to strike students with fear.

Author and Illustrator

Michelle Markel started out writing as a journalist who's articles appeared in famous newspapers including The Los Angeles Times and The Wall St. Journal. Today she writes for children, being the author of seven books, including The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau and Dream Town. She currently lives in California. (Sources: book jacket and here)

Doug Cushman is responsible for the artwork for this and many other children's books. He has either written or illustrated (often both) over 120 books. He has illustrated Douglas Wood's "Can't Do" series and Bethany Roberts' "Mice" book series, and is the author and illustrator of the Dirk Bones mystery series. He currently lives in Paris, France. (Sources: book jacket, here, and here)


While math and reading may not always seem like the easiest subjects to combine, this book does so nicely. Students will enjoy the story and teachers will like how it answers the frequent question students have about math, "When am I going to ever need to use this in real life?." This book provides many real life examples of real math use, while also serving as a more friendly alternative to word problems that is just begging to be copied by teachers. This is another book I recommend for all classrooms, especially with reluctant math users. 

If you are interested in purchasing this book, click here


  1. Children love dinosaurs, which will help motivate the students who aren't fans of math. I liked your pre-reading activity because students recognize and become aware of how math is relevant to their life. Prompting the students will definitely help them with their responses.

    1. I agree they will definitely need a teacher to break the ice to get them started with ideas, but with all of the ways they use math, I'm sure they will get the hang of it and think of some of their own.

  2. Seth, I appricate that you shared this book with us. I enjoyed reading your pre reading activity. I like how you have the students think about how they use math in their lives. This provides a good text to world and text to self connection.

    1. Thank you. I'm just happy I found such a good book tha tnot only shows students this important relationship between math and everyday life, but also is a lot of fun to read.