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Explore how Lane Smith’s illustrations contribute to the mood created by the words of Jon Scieszka in their book, The Math Curse. Create illustrations about math moods on classroom windows or for a display on a hallway bulletin board.
Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith may never have been in a math class together, but they do share a wacky approach to describing math attitudes using words and illustrations in their book, The Math Curse. How can illustrations contribute to the mood conveyed by the words in a story? Ask students to think of some words to describe moods. Which facial expressions would you draw to show those moods? What colors would you choose to describe those moods? How do those words, expressions, and colors convey those moods?
Read The Math Curse either as a read aloud, in pairs, or small groups using multiple copies of the text. Notice Lane Smith’s unique illustration style. He uses line and shape to convey his silly humor and also to compliment the mood set by the text via facial expressions. How do his color choices change over the course of the book to reflect changes in the math mood? How does Smith use other materials (dollar bills, stamped numerals, and numbers, letters, and figures cut from print sources) to add to his illustrations? How do the arrangements of figures and shapes convey mood?
Ask students to design a math mood illustration in the style of Lane Smith. Use Crayola® Window Markers or Window Crayons on classroom windows. Or use Crayola Washable Markers to create artwork on paper. Provide magazines, newspapers, and number stamps for students to add to their mood illustrations. Students can color directly on the stamps with Window or Washable Markers. Exhale two good warm breaths of air on the stamp to keep it moist before stamping on the window or paper surface. Use Crayola Scissors and Glue Sticks to add cut-out numbers, letters, and figures to paper artwork.
Display paper artwork on a hallway bulletin board or gallery arranged in the shapes of math symbols (+. -. x, ÷, #, $).
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