6 Surprising Math Activities You Can Do With Shel Silverstein Poetry

Celebrate National Poetry Month by integrating ELA and Math with Shel Silverstein!

Celebrate National Poetry Month by integrating ELA and Math with Shel Silverstein!


Integrate literature, math and writing with Band-Aids! Pass out copies of Shel Silverstein’s “Band-Aids” poem from Where the Sidewalk Ends. Then split kids up into teams of two. Have one kid trace the other on an oversize sheet of butcher paper. Give each team 35 Band-Aids of various shapes or colors.

Using the poem, students stick Band-Aids on the body outline (where Silverstein says they are placed). Next, they do the math! They figure out the total number of Band-Aids in Shel Silverstein’s poem. Have them count up the total number of Band-Aids on the body outline. Then, they must refer back to the poem to figure out the total number of Band-Aids Silverstein used (poem says box of 35 more). Once they have figured out the total, have them write a fraction for each Band-Aid shape (or color).


“One Inch Tall”
Read the poem “One Inch Tall” from Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein. Then pass out the “one inch tall rulers” and try to find something that measures an inch! What could you do around the classroom if you were only 1 inch tall? Kids use the ruler (free printable) as a guide. What could they do if they were 2, 3, 4, or 5 inches tall?!


“Baloney Belly Billy”
Read the poem “Baloney Belly Billy” from Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein. Then have kids brush up on their money skills! Give them a certain amount of money to feed Billy. They decide what they want him to eat. Have them create a receipt including the cost of each item they fed Billy and the total amount of money they spent.

Optional craft: Create your very own Billy. Have kids make an oversize construction-paper head with a hole cut out where his mouth is. Tape a sandwich bag underneath. Kids can throw the items he eats in his mouth. You could also tape the head to a brown paper lunch bag or tissue box (both with a hole for Billy’s snack items).

Writing: What would you offer Billy for “another 50 cents?” ($1.50)


Read Shel Silverstein’s poem “Shapes” from A Light in the Attic aloud to students. As they listen, have them follow along at their desk with a set of paper shape cutouts (rectangle, square, triangle, circle as well as a couple of other shapes not included in the poem). Afterwards, have them retell key details from the poem in order, using their cutouts to help guide them. (What fell from the sky? Who went to the hospital? Who rolled him there? etc.) Then, have them create their own shape poem or comic strip, involving any four shapes they’d like! Encourage them to choose at least one shape that wasn’t in Silverstein’s poem.


Read the poem “Smart” from Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein. Next, have students do coin rubbings in the open squares. Then they write the coin amount on the line. Click here to print.


“18 Flavors”
Read the poem “18 Flavors” from Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein. Next, tell kids that they are going to become ice cream inventors! Pass out a template for a scoop of ice cream and lay out different colors of construction paper. Each child decorates his scoop of ice cream to look like the flavor he invented. Then have students cut out their scoops and write their names on the back. Place their scoops of ice cream at the math station, along with a paper cutout cone. Kids go back and measure the ice cream cone with different scoops. How tall is it with one, two, three, four, five and so on.

Optional: Hanging up next to the station, write the price of one scoop. Have kids purchase their scoops of ice cream before measuring them to practice their money skills.

Writing: Have kids write a recipe for the ice cream flavor they invented! What will they call their flavor?

Posted by Erin Bittman

Check out my blog eisforexplore.blogspot.com!

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