Blog

Playful Family Math on Facebook

If you want to know more about my playful math books, check out my new author page. You can post comments or send me a message. I’d love to hear from you!

Visit Denise Gaskins on Facebook

You can also join the Playful Family Math discussion group or find plenty of online mathy goodness at my original Let’s Play Math Facebook page.

🙂 See you there!

Holiday Math and More: Math Teachers at Play #114

Do you enjoy math? I hope so! If not, the links in this post just may change your mind.

Welcome to the 114th edition of the Math Teachers At Play math education blog carnival — a smorgasbord of articles by bloggers all around the internet who have great ideas for learning, teaching, and playing around with math from preschool to pre-college.

If you would like to jump straight to our featured blog posts, click here to see the Table of Contents.

By the way, I found a cool, semi-self-referential trivia tidbit about our carnival number: 27 − 14 = 114. And if you put 114 dots into a 1←7 Exploding Dots machine, you’ll get the code 222. Pretty neat!

As you scroll through the links below, you find several puzzle graphics from the wonderful Visual Patterns website. Use them as conversation-starters with your kids: What do you notice? How does each pattern grow? For older students: Can you write a formula to describe how each pattern? What will it look at stage 43?

Pattern #7, Trees

A BIT OF FUN

Setting the mood: Enjoy this bit of seasonal fidgeting from Vi Hart (@vihartvihart).

If you don’t understand some of the references, that’s normal! Pick a phrase, Google it, and enjoy the fun of learning something new.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

And now, on to the main attraction: the blog posts. Some articles were submitted by their authors; others were drawn from the immense backlog in my rss reader. If you’d like to skip directly to your area of interest, click one of these links.

Let the mathematical fun begin!


SEASONAL MATH ACTIVITIES

You don’t have to celebrate Christmas to enjoy many of these activities — but really, I couldn’t find much for the other winter holidays. A few calculation worksheets with clip art, which is not my idea of playful math.

Do you know of any great math-related seasonal games, crafts, or activities I missed? Please add them to the comments section below!

Pattern #9, Snowflakes
Pattern #152, from John Golden, Circles
  • Clarissa (@c0mplexnumber) demonstrates how to make beautiful, challenging origami snowflakes. She recommends beginners try the first few folds — which create a pretty cool design on their own. Let it Snow… You may also enjoy her other Christmas projects.
Pattern #8, Penguins

[Back to top.]
[Back to Table of Contents.]


TALKING MATH WITH KIDS

Pattern #20, Helmets

[Back to top.]
[Back to Table of Contents.]


ELEMENTARY EXPLORATION AND MIDDLE SCHOOL MASTERY

  • If you’ve followed my blog for long, you know I like to play with dot grid paper. So of course, I was delighted to find Spatial Learning’s Isometric Dot Paper Activities, and the follow-up Cube Stack Activity. What a great way to build geometric intuition!
Pattern #197, from Stephanie Bowyer, Symbols

[Back to top.]
[Back to Table of Contents.]


ADVENTURES IN BASIC ALGEBRA & GEOMETRY

Pattern #28, Surface area

[Back to top.]
[Back to Table of Contents.]


ADVANCED MATHEMATICAL ENDEAVORS

Pattern #98, Centers are collinear, Fraction of the original circle shaded

[Back to top.]
[Back to Table of Contents.]


PUZZLING RECREATIONS

Pattern #52, Cubes

[Back to top.]
[Back to Table of Contents.]


TEACHING TIPS

  • My daughter is struggling with online homework in her calculus class — not because the math is too hard, but because the interface is anti-intuitive. So David’s (@davidwees) post resonates with me: Online Practice is Terrible Practice. And I love his challenge to find and teach to the Big Ideas of math.
  • I’d like to wrap up the carnival with an article you may have seen before. If you haven’t read it, you’re in for a treat. And if you have, well, it’s very much worth re-reading. Annually. As we wrap up the old year and prepare for the new … Francis’s (@mathyawp) Mathematics for Human Flourishing.

“Shalom and salaam, my friends. Grace and peace to you. May you and all your students flourish.”

— Francis Su

Pattern #174, from Katie Gates, Squares

[Back to top.]
[Back to Table of Contents.]


LOOKING AHEAD

And that rounds up this edition of the Math Teachers at Play carnival.

I hope you enjoyed the ride.

The next installment of our carnival will open sometime during the week of January 22–26, 2018, at … well, we don’t know!

We need more 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 Math Teachers at Play blog carnival, please speak up.

To share your favorite blog post with the carnival, please use this handy submission form. Posts must be relevant to students or teachers of preK-12 mathematics. Older-but-still-relevant posts are welcome, as long as they haven’t been published in past editions of this carnival (at least, not in recent memory).

Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival information page.

Pattern #30, from John Golden, Squares

howtosolveproblemsWant to help your kids learn math? Claim your free 24-page problem-solving booklet, and sign up to hear about new books, revisions, and sales or other promotions.


Advent Math Activity Calendars

Once again, some of my favorite websites offer a seasonal selection of activities to encourage your children’s (and your own!) mathematical creativity, one for each day in the run-up to Christmas.

Including an especially-tough Advent meta-puzzle for truly determined problem-solvers…

Click the images below to visit the corresponding December Math Calendar home pages.

For Primary Students

Easier activities for elementary and middle school.

Math puzzle fun, plus a printable coloring page.

2017 Primary Advent Calendar

When you get to the Nrich website, click a number to go to that day’s math.

For Secondary Students

Activities for middle and high school.

Each day features a challenge from the Short Problems Collection.

2017 Secondary Advent Calendar

When you get to the Nrich website, click a number to go to that day’s math.

For Teens and Adults

“This year we’ve decided to bring you some of our favourite Plus videos. There’s nothing more soothing that a bit of fascinating maths, explained by a fascinating mathematician, that doesn’t even require you to read stuff. Happy watching!”

When you get to the +Plus Magazine website, you can tell which links are live because they jump to a larger size when you tap or mouse over the picture.

Plus Advent Calendar 2017

One link becomes live each day — so come back tomorrow and discover something new!

Christmas Meta-Puzzle

Or try your hand at the biggest mathematical mystery of them all — and save Christmas for Alex, Ben, and Carol!

Santa’s lost his memory, and the elves are cursed to alternate between lying and truth-telling. It’s up to you to piece together the clues and figure out which presents go where.

Christmas Logic Puzzle

If you solve all the clues and enter the answer on Christmas day, you may win a present for yourself, too.


“Peanuts Christmas Panorama” photo [top] by Kevin Dooley via Flicker. (CCBY2.0)

howtosolveproblemsWant to help your kids learn math? Claim your free 24-page problem-solving booklet, and sign up to hear about new books, revisions, and sales or other promotions.


Check Out These Cool Math Sales

I’ve been following Sonya’s Arithmophobia No More blog for a couple of years, and I love the work she is doing. But this month, she’s teamed up with Lacy at Play, Discover, Learn (another great blog to follow!) to offer a humongous bundle of playful math.

You get math journaling pages, games, creative task cards, thought-provoking worksheets, and video training resources to help you build your child’s understanding of math from arithmetic to early algebra. Wow!

These activities are perfect for homeschooling families or anyone looking to supplement their child’s current math curriculum with effective discovery-based activities. If you’ve ever wondered what to do with those Cuisenaire rods you picked up on sale way back when, this bundle is for you.

I’m so looking forward to using some of these ideas with my elementary homeschool co-op kids next year!

Sale price is $30 from December 2-15.

Cuisenaire Rod Activities Blowout Bundle

But Wait, There’s More

If you’ve been reading my blog for very long, you’ve probably seen how much I love the blog, books, and classes available from the Natural Math folks.

Their newest book is just off the presses — Funville Adventures, a math adventure chapter book.

And until December 20, they’re having a holiday sale. Make your own bundle of any Natural Math books. Playful algebra, calculus for 5-year-olds, inquiry problems and more: Great deal!

Natural Math Book Sale

Stock Up on My Playful Math Books

Finally, if you’ve been wanting to pick up a paperback copy of Let’s Play Math or some of my game books, or maybe a set of dot-grid math journals, I’m currently offering a discount on bulk orders.

Bundle ANY assortment of titles. Stock up on books for your family, friends, or homeschool group.

  • 2–4 books: 15% discount off retail prices
  • 5–9 books: 25% discount
  • 10–19 books: 35% discount
  • 20+ books: 35% discount, and free Continental U.S. standard shipping or the equivalent discount off other shipping options

Bulk Order Playful Math Paperbacks

(US customers only: We’re sorry we can’t offer bulk discounts for our international readers, but the complexities of international duties and tax laws are too much for this very small family business.)

Do You Know of Any Math Deals?

Apollonian greetings from my homeschool co-op kids, and best wishes for a grace-filled holiday season.

If you’ve seen a great deal or holiday price on a math resource you love, please share!

Add your deal to the comment section below, so we can all take advantage of the math joy this season.


howtosolveproblemsWant to help your kids learn math? Claim your free 24-page problem-solving booklet, and sign up to hear about new books, revisions, and sales or other promotions.


Math Teachers and Homeschool Bloggers: We Want You!

Sketch by Olga Berrios

Do you have a favorite blog post about math activities, games, lessons, or hands-on fun? The Math Teachers at Play (MTaP) math education blog carnival would love to feature your article!

We welcome math topics from preschool through the first year of calculus. Old posts are welcome, as long as they haven’t been published in past editions of this carnival.

Click here to submit your blog post

Have you noticed a new math blogger on your block that you’d like to introduce to the rest of us? Feel free to submit another blogger’s post in addition to your own. Beginning bloggers are often shy about sharing, but like all of us, they love finding new readers.

Don’t procrastinate: The deadline for entries is this Friday, December 1. The carnival will be posted next week at Let’s Play Math blog.

Would You Like to Host the Carnival?

Hosting the blog carnival is fun because you get to “meet” new bloggers through their submissions. And there’s a side-benefit: The carnival often brings a nice little spike in traffic to your blog.

If you think you’d like to join in the fun, read the instructions on our Math Teachers at Play page.

Then leave a comment or email me to let me know which month you’d like to take.

Explore the Other Math Carnivals

While you’re waiting for next week’s Math Teachers at Play carnival, here are a couple of links you may enjoy:


“Chica usando ordenador” sketch by Olga Berrios (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr.


How You Can Play with Math #113 at Three J’s Learning

Check out the new carnival of playful math for all ages!

Each carnival brings you a great new collection of puzzles, math conversations, crafts, teaching tips, and all sorts of mathy fun.

This month we have whole-body math, notice-and-wonder puzzles, a game to build math vocabulary, intransitive dice, making sense of trig identities, and playing Go on a hundred chart. And plenty more!

Click Here to Read the Carnival Blog

Hey, Blogger, Can You Spare a Time?

We need help!

Do you write an education or family blog? Classroom teacher, math coach, homeschooler, parent, college professor, unschooler — anyone interested in helping kids play around with math?

Please consider volunteering to host the MTaP blog carnival for one month.

We still need a home for the last carnival of 2017.

Or plan ahead: 2018 is wide open.

You choose the month that fits your schedule and decide how much effort you want to put in. Writing the carnival can take a couple of hours for a simple post — or you can spend several days searching out and polishing playful math gems to share.

If you want more information, read the MTaP Math Education Blog Carnival home page.

Then let me know which month you want.


howtosolveproblemsWant to help your kids learn math? Claim your free 24-page problem-solving booklet, and sign up to hear about new books, revisions, and sales or other promotions.


How You Can Play with Math #112 at Find the Factors

Check out the new playful math blog carnival at Find the Factors blog. Iva put together a great collection of math games, activities, and teaching tips:

The carnival features comics, literature, talking with kids, favorite numbers, classroom management, a bulletin board that actually gets read, and plenty of math art. Along with several fantastic math puzzles to explore.

Click here to go read the carnival blog

And if you’re a blogger, be sure to submit your blog post for next month’s carnival!

Past carnivals are still full of mathy treasure. Check them out:


howtosolveproblemsWant to help your kids learn math? Claim your free 24-page problem-solving booklet, and sign up to hear about new books, revisions, and sales or other promotions.


How to Succeed in Math: Answer-Getting vs. Problem-Solving

You want your child to succeed in math because it opens so many doors in the future.

But kids have a short-term perspective. They don’t really care about the future. They care about getting through tonight’s homework and moving on to something more interesting.

So how can you help your child learn math?

When kids face a difficult math problem, their attitude can make all the difference. Not so much their “I hate homework!” attitude, but their mathematical worldview.

Does your child see math as answer-getting? Or as problem-solving?

Answer-getting asks “What is the answer?”, decides whether it is right, and then goes on to the next question.

Problem-solving asks “Why do you say that?” and listens for the explanation.

Problem-solving is not really interested in “right” or “wrong”—it cares more about “makes sense” or “needs justification.”

Homeschool Memories

In our quarter-century-plus of homeschooling, my children and I worked our way through a lot of math problems. But often, we didn’t bother to take the calculation all the way to the end.

Why didn’t I care whether my kids found the answer?

Because the thing that intrigued me about math was the web of interrelated ideas we discovered along the way:

  • How can we recognize this type of problem?
  • What other problems are related to it, and how can they help us understand this one? Or can this problem help us figure out those others?
  • What could we do if we had never seen a problem like this one before? How would we reason it out?
  • Why does the formula work? Where did it come from, and how is it related to basic principles?
  • What is the easiest or most efficient way to manipulative the numbers? Does this help us see more of the patterns and connections within our number system?
  • Is there another way to approach the problem? How many different ways can we think of? Which way do we like best, and why?

What Do You think?

How did you learn math? Did your school experience focus on answer-getting or problem-solving?

How can we help our children learn to think their way through math problems?

I’d love to hear from you! Please share your opinions in the Comments section below.


CREDITS: “Maths” photo (top) by Robert Couse-Baker. “Math Phobia” photo by Jimmie. Both via Flickr (CC BY 2.0). Phil Daro video by SERP Media (the Strategic Education Research Partnership) via Vimeo.

howtosolveproblemsWant to help your kids learn math? Claim your free 24-page problem-solving booklet, and sign up to hear about new books, revisions, and sales or other promotions.