Math Teachers and Homeschool Bloggers: We Want You!

Do you have a favorite blog post about math activities, games, lessons, or hands-on fun? The Playful Math 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

Don’t procrastinate: The deadline for entries is this Friday, November 20. But if you wait that long, you’ll forget. So send in your submission today!

The carnival will be posted next week (or maybe the first week of December) by Sonya at Arithmophobia No More blog.

Since this carnival wraps up a rough year, Sonya is looking especially for holiday math posts. Or anything that sparks math joy!

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.

Need an Idea-Starter?

If you haven’t written anything about math lately, here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing…

  • Talking Math with Kids: Children often have surprising insight. Even when they’re confused about math, their point of view can open our adult eyes to new understanding. Share your kids’ stories.
  • Games or Activities: Do you have a game, activity, or anecdote about teaching math to young students? We’d love to play along.
  • Lesson Ideas: This section is for arithmetic explorations, geometry puzzles, trig investigations, contest-preparation tips, and more. Can you make math topics come alive, so they will stick in a student’s mind?
  • Teaching Tips: Other teachers’ blogs are an important factor in my continuing education. The more I read about the theory and practice of teaching math, the more I realize how much I have yet to learn. So please, fellow teachers, don’t be shy — share your insights!
  • Mathematical Recreations: What kind of math do you do, just for fun?

Explore the Other Math Carnivals

While you’re waiting for next week’s carnival, you may enjoy:

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

Playful Math Education 142

Welcome to the 142nd 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.

Seriously, plan on coming back to this post several times. There’s so much playful math to enjoy!

By tradition, we start the carnival with a puzzle/activity in honor of our 142nd edition. But if you’d rather jump straight to our featured blog posts, click here to see the Table of Contents.

Activity: Planar Graphs

According to the OEIS Wiki, 142 is “the number of planar graphs with six vertices.”

What does that mean?

And how can our students play with it?

A planar graph is a set of vertices connected (or not) by edges. Each edge links two vertices, and the edges cannot intersect each other. The graph doesn’t have to be fully connected, and individual vertices may float free.

Children can model planar graphs with three-dimensional constructions using small balls of playdough (vertices) connected by toothpicks (edges).

Let’s start with something smaller than 142. If you roll four balls of playdough, how many different ways can you connect them? The picture shows five possibilities. How many more can you find?

Sort your planar graphs into categories. How are they similar? How are they different?

A wise mathematician once said, “Learning is having new questions to ask.” How many different questions can you think of to ask about planar graphs?

Play the Planarity game to untangle connected planar graphs (or check your phone store for a similar app).

Or play Sprouts, a pencil-and-paper planar-graph game.

For deeper study, elementary and middle-school students will enjoy Joel David Hamkins’s Graph coloring & chromatic numbers and Graph theory for kids. Older students can dive into Oscar Levin’s Discrete Mathematics: An Open Introduction. Here’s the section on planar graphs.

[“Geöffneter Berg” by Paul Klee, 1914.]

Click here for all the mathy goodness!

Working on the Playful Math Carnival

Every time I put together a Playful Math Education Blog Carnival, it becomes my favorite blog post of all time.

At least until the next edition.

I’m always delighted by the posts I discover. There’s so much richness in the math blogging community. This month’s carnival is no different.

I think you’re going to love it!

Hint of Things to Come

The Paul Klee painting above is from the carnival. Isn’t it beautiful?

In the carnival post, I use the image to complement a math activity about graphs.

But I think it’s also a wonderful reminder of how connections (between individual bloggers or between math topics in a carnival) make a richer whole than any of us could create on our own.

Would You Like to Help?

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, please speak up!

CREDITS: “Geöffneter Berg” by Paul Klee, 1914 via John Golden’s (Mathhombre) Miscellanea.

Do You Blog About Math?

Activities, games, lessons, hands-on fun … It’s carnival time again!

If you’ve written a blog post about math, we’d love to have you join our Playful Math Education Blog Carnival, coming this month to Let’s Play Math blog.

Posts must be relevant to students or teachers of school-level mathematics (that is, anything from preschool up through first-year calculus) or recreational math for all ages. Old posts are welcome, as long as they haven’t been published in recent editions of this carnival.

Click here to submit your blog post

Don’t procrastinate: The deadline for entries is Saturday, October 24. But if you wait that long, you’ll forget. So send in your submission today!

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.

Continue reading Do You Blog About Math?

Playful Math Carnival 141 via Nebusresearch

Check out the latest carnival of playful math:

Joseph put together this huge collection of mathematical inspiration, activities, teaching tips, puzzles, and more.

He writes:

    “I am an amusement park enthusiast: I’ve ridden at least 250 different roller coasters at least once each. This includes all the wooden Möbius-strip roller coasters out there. Also all three racing merry-go-rounds. The oldest roller coaster still standing. And I had hoped, this year, to get to the centennial years for the Jackrabbit roller coaster at Kennywood Amusement Park (Pittsburgh) and Jack Rabbit roller coaster at Seabreeze Park (Rochester, New York). Jackrabbit (with spelling variants) used to be a quite popular roller coaster name.
    “So plans went awry and it seems unlikely we’ll get to any amusement parks this year. No county fairs or carnivals. We can still go to virtual ones, though. Amusement parks and midway games inspire many mathematical questions.
    “So let’s take some in…”

Click Here to Read the Carnival Blog

Continue reading Playful Math Carnival 141 via Nebusresearch

Morning Coffee – 31 August 2020

Morning Coffee image

One of the best ways we can help our children learn mathematics (or anything else) is to always be learning ourselves.

Here are a few stories to read with your morning coffee this week:

  • David Butler’s post Twelve matchsticks: focus or funnel presents an interesting puzzle. But even better, it opened up a rabbit hole of thought-provoking posts about how to talk with children — or anyone.

“The approach where you have an idea in your head of how it should be done and you try to get the student to fill in the blanks is called funnelling. It’s actually a rather unpleasant experience as a student to be funnelled by a teacher. You don’t know what the teacher is getting at, and often you feel like there is a key piece of information they are withholding from you, and when it comes, the punchline feels rather flat.”

—David Butler
Twelve matchsticks: focus or funnel

Continue reading Morning Coffee – 31 August 2020

Playful Math 140 at Find the Factors

Check out new Playful Math Blog Carnival at Find the Factors blog:

A blog carnival is like a free online monthly magazine of mathematical adventures. And this edition is a great one!

Iva put together a huge collection of articles on learning, teaching, and playing around with math. There’s such a wealth of interesting things to read, you’ll want to bookmark the post and come back to it again and again.

Click here to go read the carnival blog

Continue reading Playful Math 140 at Find the Factors

Morning Coffee – 24 August 2020

Morning Coffee image

One of the best ways we can help our children learn mathematics (or anything else) is to always be learning ourselves.

Here are a few stories to read with your morning coffee this week…

“We are all mathematicians. We all have the power to notice, describe, and generalize patterns. You have all had this ability since birth. If we believe this then every day we must plan lessons that allow students to act as mathematicians. We must put something in front of our students to notice. We must put something in front of our students to describe, to generalize.”

—Sara VanDerWerf
What is Math? What do Mathematicians do?

Continue reading Morning Coffee – 24 August 2020

Morning Coffee – 17 August 2020

Morning Coffee image

One of the best ways we can help our children learn mathematics (or anything else) is to always be learning ourselves.

Here are a few stories to read with your morning coffee this week:

“A strategy is how you mess with the numbers, how you use relationships and connections between numbers to solve a problem. A model is a representation of your strategy, the way the strategy looks visibly. Modeling your strategy makes your thinking more clear to others because they can see the thinking and the relationships that went into your process.”

—Pam Harris
Strategies vs. Models

  • Do you have preschool or elementary students? Michael Minas has a great collection of games on his blog. Easy to learn and full of mathematical thinking.

“Doing mathematics like this deprives students of, well, let’s be honest, mathematics itself. We need to get to the answer faster. We need to move on. No time to stumble around rabbit holes. There is a curriculum to cover.”

—Sunil Singh
Our Fear of Being Lost Devalues The Beauty of Mathematics

CREDITS: Feature photo (top) by Kira auf der Heide via Unsplash. “Morning Coffee” post format inspired by Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader.

Morning Coffee – 10 August 2020

Morning Coffee image

One of the best ways we can help our children learn mathematics (or anything else) is to always be learning ourselves.

Here are a few stories to read with your morning coffee this week:

“The happy truth about doing math with your kids is that it’s way more fun than you’re expecting it to be. It’s not about right answers, and it’s not about speed. It’s about playing, counting, building, sorting, and studying the wonderful, colorful world around us.”

—Dan Finkel and Katherine Cook
How to help your kids fall in love with math: a guide for grown-ups

Continue reading Morning Coffee – 10 August 2020