In the delightfully fantastic The Phantom Tollbooth, Milo and
his watchdog, Tock, travel through Dictionopolis and Digitpolis. Milo's
mission is to reunite the princesses of Dictionopolis (Rhyme) and
Digitopolis (Reason) so that the world will once again have rhyme and
reason. While completing his mission, Milo and his companions
experience many language and mathematical concepts.
This lesson should be completed after students have had the opportunity to read The Phantom Tollbooth.
Teachers may wish to read portions of the story aloud in class each
day, or students may be assigned the book as independent reading.
Discuss the meaning of averaging as a "leveling" process. Ask
students to identify situations where they have experienced averaging
the past (grades, baseball statistics, and so on).
Distribute copies of the Can It Be? Activity Sheet.
Can It Be? Activity Sheet
Direct students to read each scenario from The Phantom Tollbooth and to write their explanations in the spaces provided. Encourage students to share their responses in a class discussion.
For the third question on the activity sheet, students will need
access to newspapers or online newspaper resources. They may work
individually or in pairs to complete this activity.
- Hopkins, Martha. "Ideas: Mathematics and Children’s Literature." The Arithmetic Teacher. May, 1993. pp 512 - 520.
- Juster, Norton. The Phantom Tollbooth. New York: Random House, 1961.
- Explore and interpret the concept of averages.
NCTM Standards and Expectations
- Find, use, and interpret measures of center and spread, including mean and interquartile range.
- Use observations about differences between two or more samples to make conjectures about the populations from which the samples were taken.
Common Core State Standards – Mathematics
Grade 6, Stats & Probability
Recognize that a measure of center for a numerical data set summarizes all of its values with a single number, while a measure of variation describes how its values vary with a single number.