Math Story Diagramming

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DJ's (age 9) diagram of The Endless Tale by James Baldwin ("Lokes" = locust :o)

He uses exponential notation to indicate the vastness of the stores of grain and locusts, which is why the tale never ends :o) This was produced in a matter of minutes with huge enthusiasm.

DJ's (age 9) diagram of Guinea Fowl and Rabbit Get Justice.

He conceptualized and drew this totally on his own. I added the text descriptions as he narrated them to me.

When he is excited and creatively pour out ideas, he does not care about spelling and I do not bring it up until afterward. Normally when he is writing, however, he does care about and asks for spelling.

The tally of checks got cut off the scan, GF won with 11 checks.
Guineafowl and rabbit
DJ, age 9, diagrams the story of The Tiger's Tail. By using a circular story "wheel" he indicates the effect the story has of not really ending (the monk is still holidng the tail, hoping someone else will rescue him, like he rescued the farmer).
Tigers tail 3
DJ's sister, Kira age 5, decides it's time to join in the fun. She creates a "Number Pizza" and proudly shows me.
Number pizza
DJ age 9 diagrams The Blind Men and the Elephant. The top bar are his "notes" he took during the story. He then added the plus signs to make the parts equal the whole of the elephant.

But wait, there's more. He decided to recombine the parts to make another animal. He added the tree to the snake to make it "rigid and strong." Then he added the spear to give it "sharp teeth." He added the fan to make it able to withstand the wind and weather. He gave it the wall to make it impenatrible. He added the rope finally to give it it's shape. The bottom picture is the completed "First Snake." Wow.
Blind men elephant2
Delenn, age 6, asks me to help her get started. She drew the figures in the corner, I wrote the abbreviations for Hassan, Ali, Ahmed and the Princess for her. We used an alternate symbol idea s well, Brother 1,2, & 3 and C for cousin (I had to explain the marrying of a cousin idea!). Then, she took off from there. She drew the paths of all three brothers, what they bought, how much the paid. She drew the purses of gold, but then said, how will someone know they are gold? Oh, I'll put a G on them (she reverses letter and numbers a lot, so if you look, there's a backward G there).

We summarized the gifts up top in symbols - the tube carpet does not cure the princess, but the carpet and apple does, etc.
three wishes


DJ's (age 9) diagram of the Talking Yam folk tale.

We did this together, he coached me on some symbols and names that made sense to him.

Talking Yam pic
My daughter's drawing inspired by her brother, no math yet. She states she doesn't "know how" to do this as she is a bit intimidated by DJ. She was 6, almost 7.

However, by the next drawing, she starts using his techniques of symbolizing instead of drawing or spelling completely, and finding ways to show ideas abstractly.
Guineafowl and rabbit2
This is my Tiger's Tail diagram. I was thinking of how this dilemma might be treated in a computer!

I did not let my son see me do this. I didn't want to influence his ideas.

But my 6 y/old daughter Delenn copied the diagram, symbol by symbol, word by word, complaining I wasn't neat enough for her to read in places (I had no idea she'd want to copy it, it was just an idea I was sharing with my son, LOL)
And this was Kira's (age 5) inspired drawing while I read the Tiger's Tail story aloud to them. She narrated the story back to me in great detail, but decided there was a girl there to take the tail.
Tigers tail 2
Kira age 5 joined right in as I read the poem, The Blind Men and the Elephant.

I asked, is there math there Kira? She said yes, the snake - and then recited all the numbers she knew in Spanish, elongating the "sssss" sound on them. Then she grinned and showed me the dots and stripes were math.

Blind man elephant
DJ, age 9, takes symbolic "notes" while I read the story of the Three Wishes from Arabian Nights. He used these notes to create a very elaborate story diagram that was on 2 pages taped together and too big to scan. 

I was very impressed, however, at how he came up with the idea to shorthand with symbols the story ahead of time, and then he used the notes to fill out the completed story - I never taught him to do this, but of course, this is a very successful technique in college :o)
three wishes2

Math Story Diagramming

Math diagramming is an activity that can be done as a family, or individually. These are examples of one session our family enjoyed when three of the kids were ages 5, 7 and 9. Please forgive the formatting problems, this page was brought over from a prior site and I have not had time to fix the format glitches.