I have been pondering how we actually get math done around here, which can be fairly far from what I intend math to look like. I’m old school, look at a couple of problems everyday, stretch your brain a little and then move on. My kids, not so much… they don’t love math, they definitely aren’t sitting around the table asking for more on a daily basis. If there is one thing I have learnt from countless years of homeschooling is that suggesting that my kids do a little extra math “Just for Fun,” is an invitation for them to literally fall on the ground laughing. Because of this and I don’t know why this has taken me so long with all things mathematical, but I have become the master of strewing and just idly leaving things lying in my kids path, things for them to literally bump into on their way through their day. Turns out that they absolutely love all things math as long as it is not called math.
Last year we started reading the LIFE of FRED series with no hidden agenda, my intention wasn’t to create more math for my kids to do, and I certainly didn’t intend to supplement their already great math syllabus. I just wanted to introduce some math fun… and it was a life changer, they had no idea that we were even doing math, it was just another great story and part of our morning read. I decided to raise my game and start introducing math that is pure fun. I realised that if I just strew math fun around, we could ever so slightly change the attitude towards math around here. And change it has.
Se7en Fabulous Resources to Help Make Math Fun:
- The Terrific Times Tables Book by Kate Petty and Jennie Maizels: This is math fun beyond belief… a lift the flap book with so many flaps that you will be busy for hours and hours and hours… The times table from 0 to 12, and each number gets a spread… zero and one are in outer space; two is on the ark; three is a garden growing and four is a fearsome picnic; five is a bedroom closet and a bed full of toes; six is a sweet factory and se7en is under the sea and eight is a shoe store; nine is a clever trick and ten a spread of robots; eleven is a pack of cards and twelve is fireworks. This book is such an in-depth exploration, so many fun facts, nifty little mathematical tricks, hundreds of flaps to lift and explore… pure fun and it definitely doesn’t feel like work. You can take a peak right inside the book in this video. (I received a copy of this book for review purposes from PanMacmillan South Africa.)
- Leave a Couple of Math Challenges Lying Around: Can you draw a curve with a straight line? Leave it open ended and walk away. If you leave a compass and some graph paper and a couple of coloured pencils lying on the counter… to be sure a curious kid will wonder what that’s all about and mathematical magic will happen. You could even print out some matchstick math challenges from this website that is totally devoted to MatchSticks Puzzles.
- Murderous Math by Kjartan Poskitt: I stumbled on these books in the library and then we had to buy them. I thought we could read them like other chapter books… one after the other after the other… but immediately we had to slow down and savour all the cleverness between the pages. We read these books with a notebook and pen handy, there are lots of precious and useful facts that are jotted down and lots of ideas to be explored. We read in little snippets and make sure to enjoy the funny bits and not move on until we genuinely understand something. These books are so fun, they feel like puzzle books but they are really filled with great stuff. We have learnt about Fibonacci numbers and the Golden Ratio, Fermat’s Last Theorem and heaps of other actual mathematical facts. Lots of really cool things to pop into a math notebook if you have kids who love filling in notebooks. These are the kinds of books that you can read more than once, because each time you will learn something new.
- Just Good Old Games: Sumoku is one of our favourite games (the same genre as Bananagrams), but Uno and Monopoly and even a plain old pack of cards are fantastic for engaging the math brain. Chess of course and backgammon and just lately my guys can not stop playing Quarto. My guys know the games are there, but they kind of forget about them… so I just leave a game out on the coffee table and then rotate it every once in a while.
- Sir Cumference: I have been reading this series of books with my little guys and they have inspired lots of circle art and when we learnt all about pi, we decided to draw it. Using block paper, colour in a tower of three blocks, then 1 block, then 4 blocks, then 1 block, then 5 blocks… and so on and on… Each tower represents another decimal point in the approximation of pi.
- YouTube and Podcasts are your friends:
- Numberphile: for the win, every thing from how to slice a cake, how to win at “rock paper scissors” or solve the Rubik’s Cube.
- Vi Hart: Does the most amazing “Doodling in Math,” one of these videos can keep the doodlers amongst us content for weeks.
- Ted Ed: has heaps of great quick and thought provoking movies of the mathematical kind…
- A Couple of Mathematical Ted Talks: Math ted talks of note… and Math in unexpected places on Ted Talks.
- A Brief History of Mathematics: One of my favourite courses at Varsity was a History of Mathematics course, I just love knowing the story behind the name… well this podcast is the great introduction to the History of Mathematics course… A series of Ten Podcasts each just under fifteen minutes and nothing too tricky to understand.
- BBC School Radio has a Number of Mathematics Podcasts to Download: We have been listening to the Math Challenge, which is a quick mental math quiz.
- Blogs to Follow for Math Fun:
- This podcast on Your Morning Basket: On making math more fun… introduced me to Kate’s Homeschool Math Help Blog.
- Babble Dabble Do: Has heaps of fun math activities amongst dozens of science and engineering activities for kids.
- Picklebums: Great activities and printables for kids and some cool math fun amidst them too.
- Handmade Charlotte: Has tons of fun activities for kids, including math ones like this one: DIY Tetris.
- Math Geek Mama: The name of this blog says it all!!!
That’s a whole lot of math fun, that should keep you busy… enjoy…