Math Picture Book Pick: That’s a Possibility!: A Book About What Might Happen

Thats_a_PossibilityGoldstone, Bruce. That’s a Possibility!: A Book About What Might Happen. , 2013. Print.

Plot: Using action-oriented photographs in a riot of colors, this book introduces the mathematical concept of probability to the elementary school set. Each page poses a question prompting an interactive exercise with the answer provided in plain language: These gumballs are in this machine. What color gumball will you probably get? What other colors are possible? Is it possible to get a blue gumball? Sure, it’s possible- but it’s improbable. Key terms, including possible/impossible, certain vs. likely; probable/improbable; possibilities and odds; and combinations/permutations, are conveyed in bold, colorful font and made explicit through instructive, engaging photographs.

Topics: Mathmatics – probability

Review: This book is a real looker! So much fun, it’s sure to engage even the most reluctant student. Kids will initially pick it up because of the large format color photographs of things like gumballs, animal shaped balloons, and frogs in flight, but they will stick with it because it feels like a game of logic- each page pulling you into a new compulsive challenge: When you flip a coin, there are two possibilities: it can land on heads or tails…what are the odds it will land heads up?  Goldstone has a true talent for simplifying otherwise complicated topics. At first glance, I wondered why elementary school students would need to learn about probability, but the book makes it clear why probability is important (helps you predict what will happen) and how foundational the concepts are to mathematical literacy. Every math teacher should have this one up her sleeve.

Quantitative Reading Level: Lexile: 580L (adult directed), Interest Level: K-5

Qualitative Reading Analysis: As a adult-directed text, this book has a medium-low level of complexity.  It is the graphics that do the heavy-lifting in this book, conveying the bulk of information. The photographs do require some visual literacy skills, but are carefully selected for their effective portrayal of very targeted subject matter. Certainly, probability is a complex subject, but the book is well-paced, beginning with the most simplistic concepts and moving steadily toward more the nuanced ones. No prior mathematical knowledge required- kids may not even realize they are doing math!

Content/Subject Area & Standards: Mathematics

Directly compare two objects with a measurable attribute in common, to see which object has “more of”/”less of” the attribute, and describe the difference.

Classify objects into given categories; count the numbers of objects in each category and sort the categories by count.

Organize, represent, and interpret data with up to three categories; ask and answer questions about the total number of data points, how many in each category, and how many more or less are in one category than in another.

Solve word problems involving dollar bills, quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies, using $ and ¢ symbols appropriately.

Identify arithmetic patterns (including patterns in the addition table or multiplication table), and explain them using properties of operations.

Generate a number or shape pattern that follows a given rule. Identify apparent features of the pattern that were not explicit in the rule itself.

Generate two numerical patterns using two given rules. Identify apparent relationships between corresponding terms. Form ordered pairs consisting of corresponding terms from the two patterns, and graph the ordered pairs on a coordinate plane.

Curriculum Suggestions: 

Use this as a read aloud, working on a few pages at a time, and challenging students to come up with similar scenarios to illustrate the point.

Create a collage, using magazines to cut out high contrast, sharp graphics that can illustrate the concepts of possible/impossible, certain vs. likely; probable/improbable.

Links to Supporting Content:

Probability (PreK-4): Explore mathematical chance by showing your children how to use a “Lucky Guess” spinner to see if it knows all, in this activity from Arthur. (PBS Learning Media)

4th Grade Card Game

5th Grade Probability Carnival (news story)


Tags: Book Review, INFO237, K5, K5-Math, Probability, School Libraries


2 thoughts on “Math Picture Book Pick: That’s a Possibility!: A Book About What Might Happen

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