Common Core Math Standards One Is a Snail, Ten Is a Crab

Among my books, the most widely used one worldwide is ONE IS A SNAIL, TEN IS A CRAB. It’s been adapted for curricula from Australia to Canada. This book is classified as nonfiction although the text is nonfiction and the illustrations are actually fictional. (At least in my experience, crabs do not ride inner tubes.) It introduces a way of thinking that leads, apparently into algebra. It counts from 1-100. So, when I looked at the Common Core, I could see why this book has been embraced by the math community. Here are the standards that I could see immediately related to the book. A trained math teacher would likely find many more.

Yet there are ways math teachers can use lots of children’s books to complete Common Core.


  • CCSS.Math.Content.K.OA.A.1 Represent addition and subtraction with objects, fingers, mental images, drawings1, sounds (e.g., claps), acting out situations, verbal explanations, expressions, or equations.
  • CCSS.Math.Content.K.OA.A.2 Solve addition and subtraction word problems, and add and subtract within 10, e.g., by using objects or drawings to represent the problem.
  • CCSS.Math.Content.K.OA.A.3 Decompose numbers less than or equal to 10 into pairs in more than one way, e.g., by using objects or drawings, and record each decomposition by a drawing or equation (e.g., 5 = 2 + 3 and 5 = 4 + 1).

CCSS.Math.Content.K.CC.A.1 Count to 100 by ones and by tens.




CCSS.Math.Content.2.OA.A.1 Use addition and subtraction within 100 to solve one- and two-step word problems involving situations of adding to, taking from, putting together, taking apart, and comparing, with unknowns in all positions, e.g., by using drawings and equations with a symbol for the unknown number to represent the problem.1

Lesson Plan for One Is a Snail, Ten Is a Crab

Other activities related to One Is a Snail, Ten Is a Crab

One Is a Snail Worksheets



Lesson Plan for One Is a Snail, Ten Is a Crab

I’m speaking at the Indiana state conference of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics on Sunday and Monday. Here’s a lesson plan created by educator Margaret Goldsmith, who is co-presenting with me. She’ll cover the lesson plan at the end of my session talk.

Click here to download the lesson plan: One Is A Snail.

Thank you to Margaret for sharing. We met because she was teaching workshops on the book. She’s so creative as an educator. I’m her fan and it’s because of her math enthusiasm that I attended my first NCTM conference earlier this year. Love the vibe of the math education world. Just zaps my brain cells and makes me think, smile, and create.

Liberty Union-Thurston Elementary’s Creativity

I am excited to share with you a few of the creative educational activities at Liberty Union-Thurston Elementary School in Baltimore, Ohio. These projects were done in relationship to my books in advance of my 2-day visit to their schools. They’ve had some great authors, including Ron Hirschi, who did stream walks with them some years ago. (In DECEMBER, they said. Cold toes but worth it.) It seems they have an ongoing nature and stream study in this school. Hooray! Kids will learn so much from seeing nature and science in action.

Ah, the halls were festooned with beautiful bumblebees and flowers. A shiny paper mirror said “Look here to see the author.” How wonderful for each student to see a young author in themselves.  We had some of the first art celebration of He’s a Howler: a howler paper quilt. Beautiful!

Many of the students were studying geography. They had done drawings and short writing pieces about the features of continents to go with my continent books.

One classroom did a hilarious counting riff on One is a Snail, Ten is a Crab. They did counting by eyes.

One class analyzed and classified the information in Bumblebee Queen.

Another class created new versions of the fish chant but with ocean fish. They created fish cutouts, wrote reports about features and behavior. Then they drew a fanciful sea/town scene where the fish swam. It was nonfiction with a visual fiction twist, in the spirit of Trout, Trout, Trout. Hooray!

One of my favorites was the bird poetry written by the fourth graders. Using Vulture View as a model, the teacher had created a form with key words and phrases from Vulture View. Students each drew a bird species and filled in what that bird would or would not eat and how it would move. Brilliant.

A highlight of my visit was two small sessions with young authors and illustrators. I will never forget my discussions with them! I hope that Reading Rainbow Book entry goes well.

This is a fine school with energetic educators and students that are excited to learn. The students were well prepared for my visit and worked well together in the assembly setting. The faculty welcomed me. Students and staff have much to be proud of; together they have made an environment for learning. As an author, it was a pleasure to visit.

Thank you, librarian Ms. Brown, for bringing me in to share this joyful place with you.

Having fun with scale!

One of the things I talk about a lot in presentations is scale. Here’s a fun art project to look at crocodile scale. Oh, and the food is not for the crocodile. The Hamilton students were collecting food for the hungry. They were stacking around the length of the building in order to reach their goal. 



Crocodile in full scale!
Crocodile in full scale!

Bumblebee Math

Here are some ideas, sketched out, for what educators might do with the book, THE BUMBLEBEE QUEEN. 




(A mathematical look at The Bumblebee Queen by April Pulley Sayre) 



(Building number literacy and sensitivity) 


After a first read of the book, as a story, look through it again, as a math detective.

Math can help you notice things and connect facts that you see.  Continue reading “Bumblebee Math”

Bumblebee Queen Math

For a teacher’s workshop recently, I was asked to share some ideas about using THE BUMBLEBEE QUEEN (Charlesbridge) in the context of math. Below are some of my informal ideas. I’m sure they will spark lots more activities in educators out there. Let me know what you do!



(A mathematical look at The Bumblebee Queen by April Pulley Sayre) 



(Building number literacy and sensitivity) 

After a first read of the book, as a story, look through it again, as a math detective.

Math can help you notice things and connect facts that you see. 

So let’s be math detectives


What to we notice about numbers in the book?


For younger students:

Let’s look through and write down what we see.

(Write down an honor various responses from kids counting.)


(On the cover, we see:

examples that may be suggested by students:)


three flowers on the left (columbine)

six legs on a bumblebee

two wings on a  bumblebee

Three petals on each flower. Three trillium. They are named “tri” for three.


(On the first full spread we see)

Six-sided snowflakes

Four-toed bird feet. 

One chamber where she lives

You could count the number of pieces of grass

You could count the number of trees.


Do you notice there are lots of things to count on each page?

There are many  numbers to notice on each page. 

Let’s try to narrow down what we count. 

Let’s stay as close as possible to the bee and her life.

What numbers that we hear or see are important to her life? 

Let’s read. 


For older students

1) Read the book and write down any numbers mentioned in the text.  If you find them in a sentence, write down the entire sentence.

One way to look for numbers would be to scan the pages quickly for number shapes.

Try that. Does this technique find all the numbers? Why or why not? 

(No. Some numbers may be spelled out in letters. So you will need to read, not just scan. 

Some numbers may not be spelled out. You may need to look for clues to those numbers in the illustrations.)

Answers: examples numbers students may have noted

250 bumblebee species

In 5 days, the eggs hatch. 

The larvae spin cocoons 10-14 days after hatching

In ten days, the cocoons ripen. (Bees emerge.>) 

A bumblebee colony can contain 30-400 bees

Three kinds of bees: queens, workers, drones




How many places did the bumblebee look before she found a place to build her colony?

By number, which place did she choose?

The 3rd place she looked. 

Pause to investigate ordinal/cardinal numbers

Cardinal number—a number denoting quantity  one, two, three, four five.

Ordinal number—a number denoting order 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th.


Take the figures you have gathered about the bumblebee’s life. Create a timeline, of the days of a bumblebee’s development. 

One Is a Snail activities

Students hold a stuffed animal and count their feet plus the animal's feet to illustrate the concept
Students hold a stuffed animal and count their feet plus the animal