Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola
Strega Nona -- "Grandma Witch" -- is the source for potions, cures, magic, and comfort in her Calabrian town. Her magical everfull pasta pot is especially intriguing to hungry Big Anthony. He is supposed to look after her house and tend her garden but one day, when she goes over the mountain to visit Strega Amelia, Big Anthony recites the magic verse over the pasta pot, with disastrous results.
In this retelling of an old tale, author-illustrator Tomie dePaola (whose middle name is Anthony) combines humor in the writing and warmth in the paintings as he builds the story to its hilarious climax.
When Strega Nona leaves him alone with her magic pasta pot, Big Anthony is determined to show the townspeople how it works.
After reading Strega Nona, use dry pasta for some fun math activities.
Provide students with several different types of pasta and have them sort it into groups. They can start by sorting the pasta by type, but can also sort by size and other features, like which types have holes and which don't.
The pasta can also be used to practice making patterns. Have the students make several different patterns out of the pasta and then pick their two or three favorite patterns to glue onto a piece of paper. Students can also play a game with the pasta called "What Comes Next?" where one student starts a pattern and the other has to add the next three or four pieces of pasta to the pattern.
Pasta can also be used as counters when the children are practicing addition and subtraction or solving story problems.