Why Math Game Monday?

There’s a new Math Game Monday this week.

Have your kids tried it yet?

This week’s game is one of my favorites for early elementary grades, a logic game that makes children think about numbers and strategy.

Or, if you’re reading this post later and missed that one, there’s another great new game this week for you to play.

Check it out:

Visit Math Game Monday

Continue reading Why Math Game Monday?

Homeschooling? Check Out These Math Goodies

How to Homeschool Math: A long page full of my best tips on homeschooling math in a low-stress, creative, playful way. No matter which curriculum you use—unschoolers, too!

Get my email series “8 Weeks of Playful Math” plus regular activity ideas and other updates when you join my Math Reader’s Group newsletter.

My Let’s Play Math Sampler ebook contains short excerpts from my most popular books. Find out how to get it for free, no strings attached!

Numberless Word Problems

As I mentioned yesterday, my new book includes links to online resources to help you play with word problems. So this week, I’m sharing a few of my favorites.

Visit the Kickstarter

Today we examine a time-tested method to help kids reason about math: Leave out the numbers.

First up, there’s Brian Bushart’s numberless problem bank for young students. Then we’ll look at Farrar Williams’s modern revision of a math teaching classic with problems for upper-elementary and middle school students.

Have fun thinking math with your kids!

Word Problem Bank

Word problems are commonplace in mathematics classrooms, and yet they regularly confound students and lead to frustrated teachers saying things like:

  • “They just add all the numbers! It doesn’t matter what the problem says.”
  • “They don’t stop to think! They just start computing as soon as they’re done reading the problem.”

Brian Bushart offers a collection of ready-to-go slide presentations that walk through the steps of making a word problem make sense.

Visit the Site

Math With No Numbers

Discover Farrar Williams’s book Numberless Math Problems: A Modern Update of S.Y. Gillian’s Classic Problems Without Figures, available in ebook or paperback.

Williams writes: “In order to answer the question, they’ll have to explain it, because the problem doesn’t give you anything to calculate with. The only way to answer is by explaining your process. See how sneaky a numberless problem is? It makes students really think about the process of solving the problem.”

Find Out More

“When students face a word problem, they often revert to pulling all the numbers out and “doing something” to them. They want to add, subtract, multiply, or divide them, without really considering which operation is the right one to perform or why.

    “When you don’t have numbers, it sidesteps that problem.

      “For students who freeze up when they see the numbers, this can be a really good way to get them to think about their process with math.”

      —Farrar Williams, Math With No Numbers

      CREDITS: Feature photo (top) by saeed karimi via

      Problem Solving with James Tanton

      At the back of my new Word Problems from Literature book, I’ve included an appendix with links to recommended online resources.

      Check in on the Kickstarter

      So I thought this week, I’d share some of my favorites with you. First up: Problem Solving Tips from James Tanton.

      You may know Tanton from the popular Exploding Dots and other activities at the Global Math Project website. But he’s been busy for decades sharing the delight and the beauty of the subject. He currently serves as the Mathematician-at-Large for the Mathematical Association of America.

      Read on to discover several of Tanton’s best problem-solving tips for middle school and older students.

      Have fun exploring math with your kids!

      How to Think like a School Math Genius

      In this 4-video series, Tanton presents five key principles for brilliant mathematical thinking, along with loads and loads of examples to explain what he means by each of them. A call for parents and teachers to be mindful of the life thinking we should foster, encourage, promote, embrace and reward — even in a math class!

      Watch the Videos

      Two Key — but Ignored —Steps to Solving Any Math Problem

      How many degrees in a Martian circle?
      Every challenge or problem we encounter in mathematics (or life!) elicits a human response. The dryness of textbooks and worksheets in the school world might suggest otherwise, but connecting with one’s emotions is fundamental and vital for success — and of course, joy — in doing mathematics.

      Read the Article

      MAA AMC Curriculum Inspirations

      Essays and videos showing how to approach math puzzles in a way that a) is relevant and connected to the curriculum, and b) revels in deep, joyous, mulling and flailing, reflection, intellectual play and extension, insight, and grand mathematical delight.

      Scroll down and start with the Ten Problem-Solving Strategies.

      Download the Puzzles

      Think Puzzles and Think Cool Math

      Here are some essays illustrating astounding tidbits of mathematical delight. And here are some purely visual puzzles to surprise.

      Explore and Enjoy

      “The true joy in mathematics, the true hook that compels mathematicians to devote their careers to the subject, comes from a sense of boundless wonder induced by the subject.

        “There is transcendental beauty, there are deep and intriguing connections, there are surprises and rewards, and there is play and creativity.

          “Mathematics has very little to do with crunching numbers. Mathematics is a landscape of ideas and wonders.”

          —James Tanton

          CREDITS: Feature photo (top) by Ian Stauffer via

          The Playful Math Carnival Wants You!

          We’re looking for new posts, and new hosts, for the Playful Math Education Blog Carnival.

          Can you help?

          The Playful Math Education Carnival (formerly “Math Teachers at Play”) is a monthly collection of mathy fun: tips, tidbits, games, activities, and more.

          It’s like a free online magazine of mathematical adventures. If you like to learn new things and play around with ideas, you are sure to find something of interest.

          Wanted: Posts for the August Edition

          Please share your favorite recent blog post — yours or someone else’s — in our carnival submissions form. You may enter as many posts as you like.

          Submit a Post Here

          The August carnival will be hosted by Alexa Kapor-Mater at The Montessori Cosmos blog.

          Wanted: Hosts for the 2022-2023 School Year

          The carnival is a joint effort. We need more volunteers.

          Classroom teachers, homeschoolers, college professors, unschoolers, or anyone who likes to play around with math — if you would like to take a turn hosting the carnival, please speak up!

          Check the details on the carnival’s home page, and then leave a comment here or email me directly to let me know when you want to host.

          Playful Math Carnival Instructions

          CREDITS: Feature photo (top) by Taylor via

          Math Game Monday: Make and Take

          “Make and Take” is free on this website for one week only. It’s an excerpt from Math You Can Play Combo: Number Games for Young Learners, available as an ebook at my bookstore (Thank you for cutting out the middleman!) and in ebook or paperback through many online retailers. Read more about my playful math books here.

          Many parents remember struggling to learn math. We hope to provide a better experience for our children.

          And one of the best ways for children to enjoy learning is through hands-on play.

          In this game, players use addition and subtraction to make the challenge number chosen by their opponent.

          Make and Take

          Math Concepts: addition, subtraction, multistep calculation.

          Players: only two.

          Equipment: one deck of playing cards, face cards removed.

          Continue reading Math Game Monday: Make and Take

          Why I Love This Book

          To everyone supporting my Kickstarter project so far: thank you ever so much! We’ve blown past our funding target, and we’re now working on the Stretch Goals to see how many extras we can add to improve the book.

          If you haven’t backed the project yet, check out what you’re missing:

          Visit the Kickstarter

          Why I love Word Problems from Literature

          As a math coach, I love teaching adults and children how to learn math through play. And I’ve written several books full of games and activities to help families play math together.

          I show parents and teachers how to look at math with fresh eyes. To explore the adventure of learning math as mental play, which is the essence of creative problem-solving. Mathematics is not just rules and rote memory. Math is a game, playing with ideas.

          But at heart, I’ve always been a fiction fan — especially fantasy fiction. And this book, Word Problems from Literature, lets me bring that love of story to the surface.

          This is one of my all-time favorite books, and I’ve had so much fun with this new edition: adding stories, writing make-your-own-problem prompts, sneaking extra teaching tips into the worked-out solutions, creating an almost-magical guide to helping kids learn math.

          I’ve taken a few screenshots to let you peek inside the new edition. If you like what you see, come over to the Kickstarter and order your copy today.

          Playful Math 157 via Math Mama Writes

          Would you like some great ideas for reading and playing math with your kids?

          Sue VanHattum put together a delightful collection of books, geometric constructions, activities, and inspiration in the latest Playful Math Carnival:

          What are you waiting for? Come join the fun!

          Click Here to Read the Carnival Blog

          Help Us Keep the Carnival Going

          The Playful Math Blog Carnival wants you!

          Each monthly Playful Math Carnival brings you a great new collection of puzzles, math conversations, teaching tips, and all sorts of mathy fun. It’s like a free online magazine of mathematical adventures, helpful and inspiring no matter when you read them.

          The carnival is a joint effort. We depend on our volunteer hosts to collect blog posts and write the carnival each month.

          Putting together a blog carnival can be a lot of work, but it’s a great opportunity to share the work of bloggers you admire and to discover new math-friends online. I love that part of being a host!

          Classroom teachers, homeschoolers, college professors, unschoolers, or anyone who likes to play around with math — if you would like to take a turn hosting the carnival, please speak up!

          CREDITS: Feature photo (top) by Iva Sallay.

          Why Word Problems?

          Wow! My Word Problems from Literature Kickstarter is just barreling along. I love seeing how many people are interested in a playful approach to teaching math.

          Check It Out

          But you might wonder: Why do I care so much about word problems?

          In many textbooks, word problems are an afterthought tacked on to the end of a math lesson.

          For me, it’s just the opposite. Word problems are the key part of a lesson, because that’s where children come face-to-face with the meanings of math concepts.

          The Key to Learning Math

          If we want our children to learn real math, we need to offer them plenty of problems to solve. A child may work through several pages of number calculations by rote, following memorized steps, but a good problem demands more thought.

          A story problem puts flesh on the abstract bones of arithmetic. Word problems encourage children to ponder what it means for one thing to be bigger than another, or smaller, or faster, or slower, or made up of several parts.

          Word Problems from Literature will feed your child’s mathematical imagination with story problems inspired by classic books, from 2nd-grade stories based on Mr. Popper’s Penguins to prealgebra stumpers inspired by The Lord of the Rings.

          And when you finish my puzzles, I’ll show you how to create your own word problems from literature, using your children’s favorite story worlds.

          The Trouble with Word Problems

          Most young children solve math problems by the flash-of-insight method: They hear the problem, and they know by instinct how to solve it.

          This is fine for simple problems like “Four kittens played with a yarn ball. Two more kittens came to join the fun. Then how many kittens were playing with the yarn ball?”

          When problems grow more difficult, however, that flash of insight becomes less reliable, so we find our children fidgeting with their paper or staring out the window. They complain, “I don’t know what to do. It’s too hard.”

          Too often, the frustrated child concludes, “I’m just not good at math.”

          But the truth is that nobody is good at math, if you define “good at math” to mean they can see the answer instantly. Here’s a more useful definition: You’re good at math if you have problem-solving tools and know how to use them.

          And that is something everyone can learn.

          Word Problems from Literature and the Word Problems Student Workbook will show you how. Order your copies today!

          Visit the Kickstarter

          Kickstarter Loves My New Book!

          To everyone who has supported my Kickstarter project: thank you ever so much! We funded in only five hours, and the Kickstarter people honored us with a “Projects We Love” tag.

          If you haven’t backed the project yet, check out what you’re missing:

          Visit the Kickstarter

          Now it’s on to the Stretch Goals, where each new level we unlock will pay for a higher-quality book in the end. Your support will bring into reality a “Be a Math Detective” motivational poster for all backers, additional illustrations for the main text and student workbook, and even new chapters on solving problems with decimals, ratios, percents, and more.

          It’s a collaborative project — how high can we go?

          Share the Word Problems from Literature project with your friends, and let’s spread the joy of learning math the creative way!

          Launch Day! Act Now To Get the Earlybird Bonus

          And so it begins: Word Problems from Literature is LIVE on Kickstarter…

          Check It Out

          PLUS, for everyone who supports the project today, you get a free bonus book with one of my best-loved playful math activities for all ages: “How Crazy Can You Make It?”

          The more backers who join the project early — especially on this first day — the more likely it is that the Kickstarter algorithms will kick in and share the campaign with even more people.

          Let’s show the whole world how much fun it can be to play around with math!

          Go to the Kickstarter

          Math Game Monday: Exponent Number Train

          This game pushes middle-school students to deepen their understanding of multiplication and exponents.

          “Exponent Number Train” is an excerpt from Prealgebra & Geometry: Math Games for Middle School, available as an ebook at my bookstore (Thank you for cutting out the middleman!) and in ebook or paperback through many online retailers. Read more about my playful math books here.

          The Math Game Monday posts will be available for one week only. If you missed this one, explore the Topic Tag links in the sidebar. There are more than forty free games scattered around the blog. Have fun playing math with your kids!