Small World

Story Time STEM / Asking Questions / Small World To “Resources”

Small World: Overview and Description

Cover of Small World


This story is about a girl named Nanda and her growth and inspiration within her ever-expanding world as she gets older. From the arms of her mother to a neighborhood playground, from a forest to a city street, her world continues to expand. She takes to the air in gliders and planes and then into space as an astronaut and explorer, her world expanding to encompass Earth and beyond. It’s worth noting that the name Nanda means “joy,” and this story is inspired by five women involved in space research and exploration.

Math Practice (Asking Questions)

Nanda wonders! She wonders as she climbs trees holding binoculars, builds with blocks, and looks into her microscope. She sketches and wonders as she builds a human-powered helicopter. She wonders as she soars into the sky in an airplane and into space in a rocket ship. Nanda is an inspiration for exploring your world! As we enjoy this story with children, we can wonder about the kinds of questions they have and the kinds of questions Nanda may have had in her adventures. We can support young mathematicians to know that asking questions is the way they experience and come to know their world!

Math Content

Even though this book is not an overtly mathematical story, there are many opportunities to discuss and learn mathematical content. Children may notice intriguing shapes in Nanda’s world — spherical bubbles, triangular jungle gym, rectangular blocks. They may notice angles of constellation drawings and on the ferris wheel structure. They may notice the steep slope of the roller coaster. They may wonder about the inertia to lift a rocket into space! The colorful detailed illustrations offer out-of-this-world opportunities to count.

Read Alouds: Let’s Read Together

Try one (or all) of the three read alouds provided below.

Open Notice and Wonder Read

Enjoy a first read where you follow children’s interest, pausing where there is energy to ask, “What do you notice?” and “What do you wonder?” Celebrate hearing children’s ideas!

Math Lens Read

A math lens read can go back to revisit what children noticed and wondered mathematically during the first read. You may or may not read entirely through or perhaps jump to focal parts of the story to think about the theme of asking questions. For example, you might say, “You noticed shapes and angles. You noticed the round bubbles, the triangles on the playground, the steep slope of the roller coaster. Let’s go back and visit the shapes in this story.” Turning each page, pause to wonder about shapes, name shapes, use language to describe shapes and angles all throughout the illustrations and story.

Story Explore Read

A story explore read can go back to revisit and retrace each step in Nanda’s expanding world. What was her whole world as a baby, child, teenager, and college student? What do we learn about Nanda’s personality and her drive to explore and see more of the world around her? There are many opportunities to ask questions about information that must be inferred from the words and illustrations. For example, “What did Nanda decide to study in college? What skills did she develop after college, and what does that say about her ambitions or dreams?” The story essentially outlines the life trajectory and development of a character, and since most of this information must be inferred, there are many opportunities to ask questions about it.