Mentor Text {The Rajah's Rice}

I am not sure where I got this book, I think it came with a set of books the school purchased, but I found it recently in a box of books in my garage so I really have no idea where it came from. :)  I have never read this book and only happened to read it because on the cover is said, "A Mathematical Folktale from India".  It has a focus on math all around us and the rule of doubling.
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It's a cute tale of a little girl in India who bathes the Rajah's elephants.  One day after witnessing the rice collection (tax) to the Rajah, the little girl was upset at how hungry the villagers would be.  The next day the elephants become sick and no doctors are able to heal them.  The little girl asked the Rajah if she can try to help the elephants.  He agrees and promises to reward the girl with any gift she would like. She helps the elephants and ask the Rajah for rice for the villagers using his chess board.  She asked him to place two grains of rice on the first square, four on the second, eight on the third, and continue the pattern through to the last square.  The Rajah ended up giving up ALL of his rice to the villagers.

This book is great for multiplication (rule of doubling) and measurement.  As the number of grains increases they use a teaspoon, bowl, wheelbarrow, etc. to full fill the little girl's request.  As I was reading this I was thinking, could this really happen?  I know the kids would ask the very same question!  The last page in the book explains how, yes, this could happen.

I think it would be a great idea to give students a blank chess board, pencil, and a calculator to test out the rule of doubling.  They could even start with different numbers in the first square as a challenge.

I created a free blank chess board if you would like to use it :)

*An interesting note: the copyright if this book is 1994, which is why the Twin Towers are used as the "pair of skyscrapers" and the Manhattan scene has the towers.  This would be a great way tool to use to discuss 9-11 as well.


  1. What a great discovery when you find a jewel you never realized you had! Looks like a great book!

    Sarah @ Hoots N Hollers

  2. This book reminds me of A Grain of Rice. I haven't heard of this one, but it sounds like a wonderful story. Glad you found it!


  3. This sounds like a great book! I've never heard of it, but you know where it's going...... Amazon shopping cart! :-P
    ideas by jivey
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  4. This is a very clever book! I've read it with my class before in reading but not math (only because it was in our old anthology) but it does make better sense for math! I'm glad you reminded me of this!

    Thanks for linking up!!
    Collaboration Cuties

  5. This is a new book for me, but it sounds cute! Thanks so much for sharing!

    Hunter's Tales from Teaching

  6. Looks like a super fun book! I was thinking today that it's crazy we lived SO clos and never actually got together! Did you see that I got a job?! A 2-3 class... yikes! Go ahead and start praying I know what to do with these little people! :)

    The 4th Grade Journey


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