Playful Math Carnival #154: The Math Journaling Edition

Welcome to the 154th 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!

By tradition, we start the carnival with a puzzle/activity in honor of our 154th edition. But if you’d rather jump straight to our featured blog posts, click here to see the Table of Contents.

Try This Puzzle/Activity

Since 154 is a nonagonal number, I think you might enjoy visiting some of my old “Adventures of Alexandria Jones” posts about figurate numbers:

And then try this math journaling prompt: Build or draw your own nonagonal numbers — numbers built from 9-sided polygons.

How many nonagonal numbers can you find? What do you notice? Does it make you wonder?

Click here for all the mathy goodness!

How To Respond to Your Child’s Math Writing

In previous posts, I encouraged parents, homeschoolers, and teachers to explore the world of math and introduced one of my favorite learning tools, the math journal. Then I shared several of my favorite types of journaling prompts to get your kids started writing about math.

Math journal prompts offer a wide range of options for students to explore. Most of the prompts do not have a “right” or “wrong” answer. Our goal is to root around in some small corner of the world of math, to lift a stone and peek underneath it, just to see what we can find.

The idea that being good at math means finding the right answers is a huge myth. Of course, many problems in math do have a single right answer. But even for those problems, the answer is not the real math of the problem.

Math is all about thinking.

It’s like taking a road trip. You may have a destination, but there are many paths you could take to get there. Different students may take different paths — they may think about the problem in different ways.

It’s this reasoning that is the real math, and the right answer is just a side effect of reasoning well.

Continue reading How To Respond to Your Child’s Math Writing

5 Ways To Enrich Your Student’s Experience of Math

In previous posts, I encouraged parents, homeschoolers, and teachers to explore the world of math and introduced one of my favorite learning tools, the math journal.

But you may be wondering, what can my students do with their journal? How do I find good math prompts?

Here are five different ways your children can explore math through writing, classified by the type of reasoning involved.

#1: Game Prompts

Ask your children to play a number or strategy game and then write about it.

Game prompts break through the idea that math is dull and boring. They help students develop a positive attitude toward math while practicing their number skills or strategic thinking.

Continue reading 5 Ways To Enrich Your Student’s Experience of Math

What Is a Math Journal?

In my previous post, I encouraged parents, homeschoolers, and teachers to think of math as a nature walk through an infinite world of wonder.

A math journal is a record of your child’s journey through this world of mathematics.

In a math journal, children explore their own concepts about numbers, shapes, and patterns through drawing or writing in response to a question. Journaling teaches them to see with mathematical eyes — not just to remember what we adults tell them, but to create their own math.

Journaling brings math back into the liberal arts. It makes abstract ideas accessible and stretches children’s understanding, building math fluency and creating a solid foundation for future learning.

Continue reading What Is a Math Journal?

The Creative Way To Help Your Kids Learn Math

Are you a parent, homeschooler, or teacher? Do your children struggle to learn math? Are you worried about them falling behind?

So many parents (and teachers, too!) feel like they are “not a math person,” yet they know how important math is for their children to learn. How can we teach something we don’t really understand ourselves?

Others feel comfortable with math themselves — and may even love it — yet still struggle to pass on their knowledge to their kids. How can we share the joy we see in numbers, shapes, and patterns with youngsters who think they hate math?

Continue reading The Creative Way To Help Your Kids Learn Math

Playful Math Journaling with a Cat

As queen of the house, Cimorene insists on being involved in anything that happens in her domain. This includes promoting the Playful Math Journaling Kickstarter.

So she created a cat math journaling prompt to help your children experience the fun of playing around with math.

But first, she encourages you to visit the Kickstarter page and download the free 16-page printable Math Journaling Sampler file. Your kids will love solving Cimorene’s puzzle on one of the parchment-style pages!


[The free download will always be there, even after the Kickstarter project ends.]
Visit the Kickstarter

Here is Cimorene’s Puzzle

“The Princess of Cats has a luxuriously soft tail about 12 inches (30 cm) long. Her tail is three times the length of her noble head. Her beautiful, furry body is as long as head and tail together. How long is the Princess from her delicate nose to the tip of her majestic tail?”

So, how does math journaling work? What do children do with a problem like this?

They may want to make a list of the things they know from the story. Perhaps they will draw a picture of the cat and label the proportions. Each will take their own approach to figure it out.

And then the best part of any math journal prompt is when kids make their own math.

  • Can they write a new puzzle about their own pet?
  • Or about their favorite animal?

Encourage your children to share their math creations with their friends and family.

Cimorene would love to read it, too! If you share your story in the comments section below, I will be sure to show it to her.

And remember to back the Playful Math Journaling Kickstarter so your whole family can enjoy the adventure of playing with math!

Coming Soon! Playful Math Journaling

Are you a parent who wants to help your children learn math?

Or a teacher looking for new activities to try with your students?

Or perhaps you’d like to discover for yourself the playful side of math that school never showed you?

Tune in next week to discover how to help children explore their own ideas about numbers, shapes, and patterns. Or go to the Kickstarter Preview page, where you can sign up to be notified as soon as the project launches.

Playful Math Education Carnival 147

Welcome to the 147th 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!

By tradition, we start the carnival with a puzzle in honor of our 147th edition. But if you’d rather jump straight to our featured blog posts, click here to see the Table of Contents.

Continue reading Playful Math Education Carnival 147

Podcast: Real Math and Family Fun

Christy Thomas interviewed me for her Keep Calm and Mother On podcast. We had a wonderful chat. I think you’ll enjoy it:

Real Math and Family Fun with Denise Gaskins

“School math sometimes is more stress-inducing. Real math is more freeing and more joyful, and just more interesting.

    “Real mathematics is basically applied common sense.

      “Real mathematics is noticing patterns, seeing connections, figuring things out.

        “These are all things that you can do. You do them in other areas of your life. Real mathematics draws on those same abilities and focuses those abilities on numbers, shapes, and patterns.

          “Real mathematics is about solving puzzles. It’s about creative reasoning. These are the things you want your child to understand.”

          —Denise Gaskins, Real Math and Family Fun

          Go Listen to the Interview

          CREDITS: Feature photo (top) by Bruno Nascimento via Unsplash.com.

          Podcast: Math as a Nature Walk

          Pam Barnhill interviewed me for the Your Morning Basket podcast. We had a great talk. I think you’ll enjoy it:

          YMB #94 Math in Morning Time: A Conversation with Denise Gaskins

          “Let me give you this new vision. I want you to think of math as a nature walk.

            “There’s this whole world of interesting things. More things, more concepts, more ideas than you and your children would ever have time to explore. And everywhere you look, there’s something cool to discover.

              “If you explore this world with your children, you’re not behind. Wherever you are, you’re not behind because there is no behind. There’s only, “We’re going this direction.” Or, “Let’s move that way.” Or, “Hey, look what I found over here!”

                “And as long as your children are thinking and wondering, and making sense of the math they find, they’re going to learn. They’re going to grow.

                  “So what you want to do is, you want to embrace this adventure of loving God with all your mind and approach math with an attitude of playful exploration.

                    “And you know, you’ll be surprised how much fun thinking hard can be.”

                    —Denise Gaskins, Math in Morning Time

                    Go Listen to the Interview

                    CREDITS: Feature photo (top) by Jessica Rockowitz via Unsplash.com.