As for mathematics itself, it’s one of the most adventurous endeavors a young child can experience. Mathematics is exotic, even bizarre. It is surprising and unpredictable. And it can be more exciting, scary and dangerous than sailing the high seas!
But most parents and educators don’t present math this way. They just want the children to develop their mathematical skills rather than going for something more nebulous, like the mathematical state of mind.
Children marvel as snowflakes magically become fractals, inviting explorations of infinity, symmetry and recursion. Cookies offer gameplay in combinatorics and calculus. Paint chips come in beautiful gradients, and floor tiles form tessellations. Bedtime routines turn into children’s first algorithms. Cooking, then mashing potatoes (and not the other way around!) humorously introduces commutative property. Noticing and exploring math becomes a lot more interesting, even addictive.
Unlike simplistic math that quickly becomes boring, these deep experiences remain fresh, because they grow together with children’s and parents’ understanding of mathematics.
— Maria Droujkova and Yelena McManaman
Adventurous Math For the Playground Set (Scientific American online)
Most homeschoolers feel at least a small tinge of panic as their students approach high school. “What have we gotten ourselves into?” we wonder. “Can we really do this?” Here are a few tips to make the transition easier.
Before you move forward, it may help to take a look back. How has homeschooling worked for you and your children so far?
If your students hate math, they probably never got a good taste of the “Aha!” factor, that Eureka! thrill of solving a challenging puzzle. The early teen years may be your last chance to convince them that math can be fun, so consider putting aside your textbooks for a few months to:
- Subscribe to Games magazine.
- Read Brian Bolt books, or work through Raymond Smullyan’s What is the Name of This Book?
- Design your own tessellation T-shirts for Christmas gifts.
- Remodel the house. From financing to floor coverings, that is real math in action.
On the other hand, if you have delayed formal arithmetic, using your children’s elementary years to explore a wide variety of mathematical adventures, now is a good time to take stock of what these experiences have taught your students.
- How much of what society considers “the basics” have your children picked up along the way?
- Are there any gaps in their understanding of arithmetic, any concepts you want to add to their mental tool box?
Homeschoolers, after-schoolers, unschoolers, or anyone else: if you’re a parent with kids at home, you need this book. If you work with children in any way (grandparent, aunt/uncle, teacher, child care, baby sitter, etc.) you need this book. Or if you hated math in school and never understood how anyone could enjoy it, you need this book!
Moebius Noodles is a travel guide to the Math Universe for adventurous families (and it has lots of beautiful pictures, too!) featuring games and activities that draw out the rich, mathematical properties of everyday objects in ways accessible to parents and children:
- A snowflake is an example of a fractal and an invitation to explore symmetry.
- Cookies offer combinatorics and calculus games.
- Paint chips come in beautiful gradients, and floor tiles form tessellations.
The Math Teachers at Play blog carnival is a monthly blogging round-up shared at a different blog each month, featuring posts from parents, teachers, homeschoolers, and students — anyone who is interested in playing around with school-level (preschool to pre-college) or recreational math.
This month’s edition is ready for your browsing pleasure:
If you bought an early edition of my ebook Let’s Play Math, you can now update your copy to the latest version.
This update includes:
- typo whack-a-mole (fixing all I could find)
- toc.ncx navigation (the ebook magic that lets you skip ahead to the next chapter)
- additional living book and internet references in the appendix sections
- new quotations: insights from W. W. Sawyer, Malke Rosenfeld, and Maria Droujkova
- an expansion of the Homeschooling with Math Anxiety section
- How to Recognize a Successful Homeschool Math Program
- and several new sections in the high school math chapter, which I hope to publish on the blog as well (maybe next week?)
How To Update
If you bought at Smashwords, the latest update is always available for download at their site.
If you are an Amazon.com customer, you can get the updated version of this book by going to Manage Your Kindle. Find the book in your Kindle Library, click on the “Update Available” link next to the book’s title, and then follow the update prompts. After you do this, all of your Kindle devices that have the ebook currently downloaded will be updated automatically the next time they connect to wireless. If you tucked the book away in a folder, the update will replace it there, rather than cluttering up your home screen.
Through the Smashwords distribution program, my ebook is finally spreading to other online booksellers:
A bit of April Fool’s Day fun from Google Maps:
I’m still working on Let’s Play Algebra, the sequel to my Let’s Play Math book.
Here’s a quick taste of things to come…