The Stenhouse Blog

How Many?: A Routine for Celebrating Children’s Mathematical Brilliance (Math Monday)

Posted by admin on Nov 29, 2021 11:03:04 AM

Highlighting Ideas from How Many?: A Counting Book and Teachers’ Guide by Christopher Danielson


The best math routines often start with a seemingly simple question, one that is inviting and accessible. “How many?” is one such delightful question and routine that leads with ambiguity (How many what?) and offers almost endless opportunities for mathematical conversation. And lucky for teachers and children alike, Christopher Danielson has created a How Many? book!

As Christopher writes on his blog:

How Many? is a counting book that leaves possibilities open and that seeks to create conversations. Creativity is encouraged. Surprises abound.

The premise is simple. Every page asks How Many? but doesn’t specify what to count. Each image has many possibilities.”

In the How Many? Teacher’s Guide, Christopher explores how the routine can offer opportunities to notice patterns and relationships and open up conversations about counting, number language, units, grouping, partitioning, place value, and vocabulary.

The Shoe Image

Let’s take a look at one of the images from the book. How might you answer the question “How many?” upon seeing this image?

shoe image pg 5

As Christopher writes, “Maybe you say two. Two shoes. Or one because there is one pair of shoes, or one shoebox. Maybe you count shoelaces or aglets or eyelets (2, 4, and 20, respectively). The longer you linger, the more possibilities you’ll see. It’s important to say what you’re counting, and noticing new things to count will lead to new quantities.”

Here are some more ideas that Christopher includes in his “Answers Key” in the Teachers’ Guide (“answers” is plural since there are so many ways to see this image!).

show image answers

You can take a look at this video to see Christopher facilitating a conversation around the shoe image with a group of students.


How Many? and Storytelling

Readers of all ages are captivated by How Many?’s focus not only on counting, but on the book’s brilliant mathematical storytelling. Rather than including a random assortment of interesting photos, How Many? tells a story across its pages. The story takes place in a kitchen, with a meal being prepared by a person, shown only by their shoes.

When one kindergarten teacher shared How Many? with her class, they paused to linger over a page where eggs are being prepared.

egg image pg 15

One student gasped loudly: “Ms. Katie! There are five! The family! They cooked an extra!” [referring to the double-yolked egg].

No family appears in How Many?, but the photographs provide a beautiful space for using inference, for telling and creating stories, and for mathematizing the world.

It is the ultimate wordless picture book.

Sharing How Many? With You!

To celebrate counting anywhere and everywhere, we’re sharing a section from both the How Many? Teacher’s Guide and the How Many? student book. This little goody bag of a downloadable includes a section of “Chapter 4: Children are Brilliant Mathematicians,” a selection from the “Answers Key,” and the shoe image itself from the student book to share with children. 

How will you use How Many? in your classroom?

How Many Bundle

Topics: Math, #StenhouseMath