Each week, we’ll be playing with the math, language, and logic topics found in a single chapter. I’ll be posting ideas for extension activities, videos demonstrating the concepts for the week, and additional resources. I’m really excited for the opportunity to share all the extra ideas that have been floating around my brain which I didn’t have room to include in the book (as in Marco Polo’s famous words: “I did not tell half of what I saw.”)

— Lilac Mohr

Here’s a Quick Taste of Week One

This Week’s Activities

Lilac’s blog post includes a full schedule for the eleven-week book club, featuring plenty of classic math puzzlers to play with. Here are the topics for this week.

Read Chapter 1: Mrs. Magpie’s Manual

Alliteration

Memorizing digits of Pi

Palindromes

Calculating your age on other planets

It looks like a lot of fun. I highly recommend the book (read my review), and I’m sure you and your children will enjoy discovering math and magic with Lulu and Elizabeth.

“I can’t find a home school math program my son likes. We’ve tried Singapore Math, Right Start, Saxon, and Math Mammoth. We subscribed to a month of IXL Math to keep him in practice, but he hates that, too. I know I shouldn’t have changed so many times, but this was our first year of homeschooling, and I was trying to please him. But I’m running out of things to try. Do you think Life of Fred might work?”

You’ve tried all those math programs in one year? Many people recommend that new homeschoolers take a few months off to “detox” from the classroom setting, to relax and enjoy the freedom of making their own choices. But your son might want a few months to detox from his homeschool experience.

I suggest you set aside all those books and focus on games and informal math. Try to avoid schoolish lessons until your son starts to enjoy learning for its own sake. The Internet offers an abundance of creative math ideas.

For example, download the Wuzzit Trouble or DragonBox apps to play with, but don’t make it a homework assignment.

Or let him choose one of the activities at Gordon Hamilton’s Math Pickle website and explore it for a day or a week or as long as it remains interesting.

Browse through the Primary Level 1 or Level 2 puzzles and games at the Nrich Mathematics website for more ideas.

Look for more playful math on my blog’s resource pages:

Math that captures a child’s imagination can make the more tedious work seem bearable. For instance, in the 1920s, mathematician David Hilbert created a story about an imaginary grand hotel with an infinite number of rooms.

Fractals are self-similar, which means that subsections of the object look like smaller versions of the whole thing.

Most children enjoy exploring the concept of infinity with hands-on fractal patterns, such as this Sierpinski triangle made of tortilla chips. Talk about what you notice and wonder: How does the triangle grow? How many chips will we need for the next stage?

The Daily Four

If you worry that your son needs to keep practicing traditional arithmetic during his break, try making him a series of Daily Four pages:

Fold a sheet of plain paper in half both ways, making four quarter sections.

Write one math problem in each part. Choose them from any of your math books.

Make sure each problem is different — one addition, one fractions, one multiplication, or whatever — and that none of them are hard enough to cause frustration.

Don’t worry about an answer sheet. Show him how to use a calculator to check his work.

You can make up a whole week’s worth of these problem sheets at once, with a balanced mix of problems for each day. Your son won’t feel overwhelmed, but you’ll know he’s reviewing his number skills.

Or download some of the Corbettmaths 5-a-Day practice sheets for him. Some problems may seem too easy while others require concepts he hasn’t studied yet. Easy review won’t hurt anything, but do let him skip the problems that feel too hard.

Credits: “Rock Surfer Boy” by Ken Bosma and “Boy” by Isengardt via Flickr. (CC BY 2.0) Hotel Infinity video by Tova Brown.

Here on the Range, I’m determined to establish an environment where math is not just numbers and answers. I firmly believe my children can learn all the math they want, when they’re ready, as long as they don’t convince themselves they can’t learn it, they don’t like it, or that it’s too hard. To reach this goal, math must be a regular part of our lives in a way that encourages conversation and exploration.

Let’s Play Math could be the very introduction a young family needs as they contemplate the first few years of homeschooling. First Son’s early years may have been completely different if I had read this book when he was five.

It could be a fantastic book for a family with a child that’s struggling (in homeschool or otherwise) with math. A few years ago, when First Son first showed signs of a potentially life-long hatred of all things numerical, reading this book may have helped me adapt the curriculum we were then using to meet his needs and enrich him. (We ended up switching and I’m happy with that, but I could have avoided quite a bit of angst.)

This book would be perfect for a parent who has always struggled with inadequacies in math or for someone like me, who always did just fine in math but never understood the claims of math’s beauty or fascination. I find myself excited to explore some of the resources the author has gathered together for my own growth and new challenges.

—Kansas Mom

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The world’s largest and most popular online education competition is returning in October 2015. For more details visit http://worldeducationgames.com.

We did this one year, but my daughter has never liked any math with time pressure, and these games were all about racing to get as many answers as you could in a short amount of time. Fun for kids who thrive on that sort of thing.

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Socks Are Like Pants, Cats Are Like Dogs by Malke Rosenfeld and Gordon Hamilton is filled with a diverse collection of math games, puzzles, and activities exploring the mathematics of choosing, identifying and sorting. The activities are easy to start and require little preparation.

12 Days of Christmas is a card game designed by Dr. Gord Hamilton of Math Pickle. It’s designed for 2-8 players, ages 8+, to be played in 20-30 minutes. Simple enough for the whole family to play, yet strategic enough for the game geeks in the family to enjoy along with everyone else. To order, check out the Kickstarter:

But don’t delay! The Kickstarter project ends Christmas Day.

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The school experience makes a tremendous difference in a child’s learning. Which of the following students would you rather be?

I continued to do arithmetic with my father, passing proudly through fractions to decimals. I eventually arrived at the point where so many cows ate so much grass, and tanks filled with water in so many hours. I found it quite enthralling.