Limited Time Book Deals

Do you want to help your children master problem-solving skills?

Check out my temporary online store for anyone who missed the Kickstarter.

Through the end of September, you can place a preorder for the early-release edition of Word Problems from Literature, along with the Word Problems Student Workbook and exclusive Audio Commentary (or any of my other books or printable math activity guides).

I’ll lock down the preorder store when I’m ready to send the Kickstarter order to my printer.

Books will be delivered with the Kickstarter orders: Digital items in October, physical books by the end of December.

Shop Now ❯

How To Make Time for Exploration

Perhaps the most common objection I hear to using math games and enrichment activities is, “I don’t have the time. I can’t even get through our regular math book!”

Well, here’s one possible solution: Use a “Minimalist Math” outline to guide your instruction, turning your regular textbook into a backup resource, teaching only the topics your children don’t already know, leaving more time free for exploration and playful discovery.

Minimalist Math: Getting Down to Basics

Michelle at condensed the elementary math curriculum down to 360 problems per year, just 10 per week.

Take just a few puzzles each day, and talk math with your kids:

  • What do they notice in the problem?
  • Does it remind them of anything?
  • How might they try to figure it out?
  • Does it make them wonder about numbers, shapes, or patterns?

Use colorful markers on a whiteboard for low-stress exploration. If your children can solve a problem and explain their reasoning, you don’t need to study that topic. When they get stuck, ask leading questions to help them think it through.

If you’re both stymied, that’s when you pull out your regular textbook (or look the topic up online).

Practice with Games

Of course, children still need plenty of practice to master the math facts and solidify their knowledge.

Since you’re not spending as much time on lessons and homework, you can plan on playing lots of math games. Games are a fun, low-stress way to firm up math skills.

Check out My Best (Free) Math Games for All Ages, and follow the Math Game Monday posts on my blog.

Read Library Books

To enrich your child’s mind with the great ideas of mathematics and whet their appetite for learning, nothing beats a “living” math book.

A living book is one that brings our minds into direct contact with the great ideas of life.

Check out my Math with Living Books lists to get started, and ask your librarian for more suggestions.

For Older Students

Michelle’s Minimalist Math Curriculum goes through 6th grade (so far). But you could use the Corbettmaths 5-a-Day problems in the same way for older students.

And for enrichment activities to fill up your free math time, I can’t think of a better resource for all ages than the NrichMaths website.

“When I first started homeschooling, math became the most overwhelming, unpleasant part of our day. As someone who loves math, I didn’t want to continue on a path that was leading to such bad attitudes.

“My Minimalist Math Curriculum covers the same breadth of topics as a traditional curriculum without all the repetition. You are welcome to use what I created in whatever way serves your family.”

Michelle, Research Parent
Mathematics Activities for Kids

CREDITS: Photos by Aron Visuals, Andrew Ebrahim, and Melissa Askew via

A Spring Tradition

Homeschool Memories…

Back when my kids were young, it was a yearly tradition. The big discount catalog came every spring, full of exciting new ideas for homeschooling.

By that time, we would be tired of whatever books we were using and eager for something new.

I sent the children outside to enjoy the spring sunshine, which gave me time to dream over the tiny-print wishbook. Coffee in one hand, pencil in the other, making lists and dog-earing catalog pages.

So many exciting books and curriculum options, it seemed almost impossible to resist going wild beyond our budget.

Continue reading A Spring Tradition

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

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?

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

Parents: Math Is Figure-Out-Able

I love listening to podcasts during my morning walk with the dogs. One of my favorites over the past year has been Pam Harris and Kim Montague’s Math is Figure-Out-Able podcast.

Figure-out-able. What a great word!

Figure-out-able sums up what I mean when I tell parents that math is “applied common sense.” Kids can use the things they know to figure out things they don’t yet know.

And figuring things out like that is fun, like a mental game where we play with the ideas of numbers, shapes, and patterns.

Usually, the podcast targets teachers, and the hosts try to show how they can help students learn to mathematize — to think mathematically. Over the past few weeks, however, Pam and Kim have been talking directly to parents about how to help their children learn math.

Continue reading Parents: Math Is Figure-Out-Able

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