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Mrs. McKeown's Poetry
Mathematics

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Arithmetic

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Introduction:
Use as an introduction to a daily math lesson.


Arithmetic is where the numbers fly
like pigeons in and out of your head.

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Arithmetic tells you how many you lose or win
if you know how many you had before you won.

Arithmetic is seven eleven all good children
go to heaven - or five six bundle of sticks.

Arithmetic is numbers you squeeze from your head to your hand to your pencil to your paper till you get the right answer....

If you have two animal crackers, one good and one bad,
and you eat one and a striped zebra
with streaks all over him eats the other,
how many animal crackers will you have
if somebody offers you five six seven and you say
No no no and you say Nay nay nay
and you say Nix nix nix?

If you ask your mother for one fried egg
for breakfast and she gives you two fried eggs
and you eat both of them, who is better in arithmetic,
you or your mother?

-- Carl Sandburg --

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From The Random House Book of Poetry, by Carl Sandburg, selected by Jack Prelutsky, published by Random House, 1983

Extension:
Have students make a list of all the sayings they can think of that include numbers or math terms. Create a class list. Write a class poem that focuses math.
Extra Credit:
Find the missing lines to the poem. These can be found in "Reflections on a Gift Watermelon Pickle and Other Modern Verse", published by Scott, Foresman and Company, 1996, or in "Poetry for Young People" by Carl Sandburg, published by Sterling Publishing Company, 1995.