Tuesday Teacher Tips: Math Concept Books with Ellen Stoll Walsh

Welcome to the Tuesday Teacher Tips series! Each week we’ll highlight teaching and learning resources, ideas to use in the classroom, as well as things to ponder as you go about your teaching day.

Looking for an author study with a math theme? Try some of Ellen Stoll Walsh’s books.

Balancing Act
Beach Lane Books, 2010balance act

This book is great to use to introduce algebra to young students. By using the visual of a teeter-totter that must be equal on both sides to be balanced, the book presents a concrete reference tool that you can refer to often.

1 mouse = 1 mouse
a = a

1 salamander + 1 mouse = 1 mouse + 1 salamander
a + b = b + a

You can also demonstrate other ways to write equations. When the teeter-tooter is balanced, you can have the animals switch sides and the teeter-tooter will still remain balanced.

2 + 1 = 3
3 = 2 + 1

The inequality sign could also be introduced when referring to the uneven teeter-totter.

1 mouse ≠ 1 mouse + 1 salamander
a ≠ a + b


mouse shapesMouse Shapes
Harcourt, Inc., 2007

Allow students to explore with a variety of shapes before, during, or after you read this book. Before the lesson, cut out a variety of shapes in different sizes and colors for the students to use. As students move the shapes around and create new designs, encourage them to use the correct vocabulary, just like the mice do in the book. 

In addition to shape names, don’t forget to use words like flip, slide, and turn.



Mouse Count
Harcourt Brace & Company, 1991mouse count

An old favorite! While you are reading this book, give students counters and a cup. Have them role play the story as you read—counting the mice as they go into the jar and counting backward as they escape. After you’ve read the book, give students an index card with a number. Students should then tell the story again to a partner using the new number on the card. Ask, what if the snake put two mice in the jar at a time, can we count by twos forward and backwards?


 What books have you used in your math class? What lessons did you teach with them? We’d love to hear about them!