Kitten Math was written for ages eight to twelve as a simulated kitten-raising project. Within that context, students apply and learn math skills through games, puzzles, and kitten-related activities. A major goal of the book is to make math appealing and enjoyable, especially for students who have struggled.
The chapters of the book begin with an introduction that explains:
You have just taken in four, 3-week-old kittens who have no mama. It’s your job to keep them healthy, safe, and loved until they are old enough to be adopted. Along with bottle feeding your kittens every few hours, you’ll weigh them on a scale, go shopping for toys and supplies, design a kitten room, and so much more!
As they work through the book, students make several choices, such as selecting four of the nine available kittens for adoption, which personalizes their experience to some extent.
The activities use the kittens as the impetus for applying math—sometimes playfully, sometimes practically. For example, in the “I Love My Kittens” game, students roll a die and fill in spaces with numbers that they then add together to answer questions such as “How many kitten photos can you take in one hour?” (p. 9). On page 10, children use the names they have given to their kittens, then apply the provided code to substitute numbers for the letters in the names. They add up the numbers to find out what each kitten’s name is worth. Then they add together the values of all four names. Then they do the same with their own name.
Moving toward more practical math, page 14 presents complex word problems that help students figure out how many swaddle blankets they will wash each week. Pages 15 through 18 teach students how to round off prices in preparation for shopping for kitten supplies. They need to stay within their budget of $250 but still have all the essential items.
Other lessons work with decimals, various types of measurements (e.g., ounces, grams, milliliters), setting up feeding schedules, multiplication (to speed up the school day so they can get back to their kittens), ratios (to mix kitten formula with water), subtraction (via a game), graphing (the weight gains of kittens), percents of dollar amounts, area (of a room in square feet), creating a floor plan with measured objects, measurement conversions, and creative math applications in games.
If a child doesn’t know a particular math skill, you might use the lesson to teach it, but if it is too advanced, just skip it for now.
Along the way, children learn a great deal about the actual care of kittens, such as the proper way to bottle-feed them. In addition, there are instructions for a fleece kitten blanket project using knots rather than stitching to hold together its two layers.
This 96-page book is available in PDF or print formats. An answer key is near the back of the book. You will need to supply dice, a standard deck of cards, scissors, colored markers, and glue. Reproducible games boards and activity pages (some to be cut out), are at the back of the book.
Also, bonus material is available free at artfulmath.com/kitten-goodies which includes kitten videos, printable game boards with video instructions, a progress path chart, drawing activities, and more.
Kitten Math might be the perfect motivator for a child struggling with math, a fun supplement to your core curriculum, or a great way to keep up math skills over the summer.