Maths box: The Great Pet Sale

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By Mercia Leenumeracy consultant at Worcestershire County Council

Create your own maths resource based on Mick Inkpen’s well-loved classic The Great Pet Sale

Maths box

Mick Inkpen’s The Great Pet Sale (Hodder Children’s Books, ISBN 0-340-70381-4) is one of my favourite children’s stories. The illustrations are a delight and the text is written with Mick Inkpen’s characteristic engaging humour. The boy in the story wanders through the pet shop sale trying to decide what pet to buy. A rat labelled at just one penny is eager to be bought, and desperately pops up on each page, hoping to be chosen. After looking at all the pets, the boy counts his money, ‘£1 exactly. It was just enough to buy the rat… and everything else in the shop!’.

The story is full of wonderful opportunities for developing mathematical thinking and the maths box I have put together is well worn! I have used it in maths activities and lessons with children from Foundation Stage to Y4 in a variety of ways – at the beginning of lessons to set the context for work with money, in the main part of the lesson using the ‘pets’ for differentiated money or problem solving activities and in plenaries as a novel summary of the mathematical thinking in the lesson. I have linked the ideas with play opportunities in a class ‘pet shop’ or ‘vets’ in the role-play area.

“The story is full of wonderful opportunities for developing mathematical thinking”

An initial reading of the story reveals its potential for work with money – the prices of the pets are written prominently on the pages, and the cost of all the pets totals £1. On closer inspection, you will recognise that it can enhance your teaching of many of the mathematical learning intentions for the number system, calculations and solving problems.

Putting the box together

Collect items that represent a boy, a white rat, a terrapin, turtle and tortoise, a pelican, puffin, penguin, parrot, platypus, a salamander, skink, gecko, a koala and anteater, assorted little brown creatures and a Komodo dragon. (Most of mine were soft toys or plastic animals from charity shops, car-boot sales and toyshops. It can, understandably, be difficult to get exact animal matches so be prepared to exercise some imagination.)

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