Playful Math #152: Auld Lang Syne Edition

Welcome to the 152nd edition of the Playful Math Education Blog Carnival — a smorgasbord of delectable tidbits of mathy fun. It’s like a free online magazine devoted to learning, teaching, and playing around with math from preschool to high school.

Bookmark this post, so you can take your time browsing. There’s so much playful math to enjoy!

We didn’t have a volunteer host for January, so I’m squeezing this in between other commitments. This is my third no-host-emergency carnival in the last year, which is NOT sustainable. If you’d like to help keep the Playful Math Carnival alive, we desperately need hosts for 2022!

By tradition, we start the carnival with a puzzle or activity in honor of our 152nd edition. But if you’d rather jump straight to our featured blog posts, click here to see the Table of Contents.

Math Journaling with Prime Numbers

Cool facts about 152: The eighth prime number is 19, and 8 × 19 = 152. When you square 152, you get a number that contains all the digits from 0–4. You can make 152 as the sum of eight consecutive even numbers, or as the sum of four consecutive prime numbers.

But 152 has two real claims to fame:

  • It’s the smallest number that is the sum of the cubes of two distinct odd primes.
  • And it’s the largest known even number you can write as the sum of two primes in exactly four ways.

So here’s your math investigation prompt:

  • Play around with prime numbers. Explore their powers, their sums, and anything else about them you like.
  • What do you notice? What do you wonder?
  • What’s the most interesting number relationship you can find?

Our Final Dodeca-versary Party

The Playful Math Carnival (originally called “Math Teachers at Play”) is just wrapping up its 12th anniversary year. We’ve shared so many wonderful, creative math ideas through the years that I hate to lose track of them all.

Did you miss the earlier anniversary posts? Check out carnival editions 144, 147, and 150 for more playful math blasts from the past.

The posts in this 152nd edition are drawn from our fourth year of publication. We had 12 monthly carnivals from February 2012 to January 2013, with 11 different hosts:

Far too many of these posts have been lost to the sands of time, but I’ve recovered what I could with the help of the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.


And now, on to the main attraction: the blog posts. If you’d like to skip directly to your area of interest, click one of these links.

As you browse the articles below, whenever you find one you enjoy, do take time to explore the blogger’s other posts. There’s a wealth of mathy goodness to be found on these old sites!

Journaling with Math Art

I’ve broken up the list of math links with art from the 2022 Joint Mathematics Meetings Gallery.

Math art is a wonderful playful math prompt. Ask your students to list what they see in a piece, and what it makes them wonder. Then encourage them to create their own art in a similar style.

“Schwarz surface” by Jean Constant

Talking Math with Kids

“The key to all of these activities is that we view numbers and quantities as ways of exploring, and we nurture our children’s sense of wonder about the world.”

—David Wees, Raising mathematicians

Young Children Explore Math

Creating Math Art

  • And Becky Johnston shares a young learner’s Metamorphosis pictures, and wishes for a broader view of mathematical thinking.

Playing with Picture Books

Young Math Games

Teaching Young Math

Older Children Talk Math

  • In #51, Feanor translates Vitya’s Maths, a beautiful story of a boy solving a word problem.

“Is It Complete? Children’s Solutions to The Hexagon Challenge” by Public Math

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Exploring Elementary Arithmetic

“For my children, most maths curricula probably work just fine for a while. And then … well, they just get bored of doing the same thing day in day out. And boredom is definitely not a good learning state!”

—Lucinda Leo, The Perfect Math Curriculum

Playing with Numbers

  • In #55, Angie Eakland challenges her upper-elementary students to create math clocks: What Time Is It?

Let’s Read Math

Elementary Math Games

  • And in #48, John plays Mathzee with upper-elementary students.
  • John is back in #51 with a superhero game for multiplication and division of fractions: Size the Day.

Playing with Programming

  • Older students love learning to command the computer, too. My daughter Kitten enjoys Al Sweigart’s free Python programming books, especially Invent Your Own Computer Games.

Moving Beyond the Basics

“Horizon Set” by James Mai

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Adventuring into Algebra and Geometry

“I point out to them that are almost always multiple methods in math. Teachers may have told them that there is only one way to do things in the past, but that is bullsh*t.”

—John Golden, Guess My Rule

Playing with Puzzles

Getting into Games

Teaching Middle School Math

“Continuity” by Clifford Singer

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Scaling the Slopes of High School Math

“I would argue that application is not the most important reason we teach mathematics. The most important thing we teach kids is mathematical thinking.”

—John Chase, Why Calculus still belongs at the top

Puzzling It Out

  • In #51, Kate Nowak uses a wonderful, puzzle-based approach to Introducing Logs. I like Sue’s idea to simplify the notation further: P2(8)=3.

Math in the Real World

Teaching High School Math

“The impossible fractal” by Nidhal Selmi

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Enjoying Recreational Puzzles and Math Art

“If you’re not a math buff, but secretly always wanted to be, you can do no better than start here. If you are already an established math buff I don’t promise you’ll learn a lot new, but you’ll be highly entertained along the way, and likely see some things you already knew from fresh or different angles.”

—Shecky Riemann, Joy to the Word (of Math)

Math Circle Puzzles

Classic Conundrums

And Other Stumpers

  • In #51, Robert Abbott (inventor of the card game Eleusis) shares some great Logic mazes.

Mathematical Art

Playful Math Books

“Fish Pattern on a {6,6|3} Polyhedron” by Doug Dunham

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Teaching with Wisdom and Grace

“Be creative. Look for strange relationships. Use diagrams. Use humor. Use analogies. Use mnemonics. Use anything that makes the ideas more vivid. Don’t stop until it makes sense, or that mathematical gap will haunt you. Mental toughness is critical — we often give up too easily.”

—Kalid Azad, How to Develop a Mindset for Math

Tips and Resources

  • And in #58, Colleen resolves that This year I will… take full advantage of all the math tips and resources she’s collected over the years.

Creative Math Classrooms

Help for Homeschoolers

Building a Healthy Math Mindset

“How it Was and How It Might Have Been” by Sandra DeLozier Coleman

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What Comes Next?

And that rounds up this edition of the Playful Math Education Blog Carnival. I hope you enjoyed the ride.

The next installment of our carnival will open sometime during the month of February at Iva Sallay’s Find the Factors blog. Visit our blog carnival information page for more details.

We need volunteers! Classroom teachers, homeschoolers, unschoolers, or anyone who likes to play around with math (even if the only person you “teach” is yourself) — if you would like to take a turn hosting the Playful Math Carnival, click for details:

Carnival Home Page

CREDIT: “Lego Minifig Party” photo (top) courtesy of Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash.

“On the Shore” by Teja Krašek

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