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FIAR: Doing Math with The Pumpkin Runner

The Pumpkin Runner by Marsha Diane Arnold (illustrated by Brad Sneed) is a sweet story about a man and his dog on a 900 km race across Australia. What’s nifty is that you can use this story in your math lessons! Below is a list of some questions to try.

Filter all these questions before asking them of your children. Some children might find them more advanced and need some help and discussion. Others may dig right in.

Use this downloadable list of math stimulators, if you want to give them to your kids without the tips.

And keep in mind, math is a discovery process; you can get to the right answer in many ways.

How old is Joshua?

You can point out that he’d been running for 50 years and he started when he was 10 years old.

How many generations of dogs did Joshua run with?

When 10-year-old Joshua ran for the first time, he ran with an ancestor of Yellow Dog. The book says he started running with the “great-great-great-grandfather of Yellow Dog.”

How old did each dog get? Is it possible that Joshua ever ran with more than one dog at the same time?

How many pumpkins will Joshua need to run the race?

Children might think about it this way: If one pumpkin gave Joshua enough energy to run 40 km (his very first run) how many pumpkins might he need to run 900 km in the race?

Children can also count the number of pumpkins loaded in the Jeep. Allow your child to ponder, guess, speculate, or calculate the answer.

What’s up with Damien Dodgerelle?

He trained for the race for three months.

  • How many kilometers do you think he ran each day?
  • How many kilometers did he run total in this training time?
  • How long should it take him to run 900 km based on how he trained?

How long did it take Joshua and Yellow Dog to finish the race?

Joshua got to the finish line two days earlier than any previous winner. How many days do you think it took him? Why was he faster than everyone else?

How much did each person “win”?

When Joshua split the winnings, how much did each person get? If he only kept enough for new overalls and gum boots, how much do you think he might have given to Aunt Millie and Rancher Waudley?

What’s next?

You can use the book The Pumpkin Runner and the math stimulators in your Five in a Row math day or integrate it into any other math curriculum. Also try using the same line of questioning with other picture books you have.

Oh – and don’t forget to share how it went in the comments!

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