Did You Get Your Playful Math?

Mary Everest Boole first wrote about string art in 1904.
Mary Everest Boole first wrote about string art in her 1904 book, The preparation of the child for science.

My February playful math newsletter went out yesterday morning to all subscribers.

This month’s issue featured a couple of string art projects for Valentine’s Day, the cardioid curve, make-your-own math art, and the link between string art and calculus.

If you didn’t see it, check your Updates or Promotions tab (in Gmail) or your Spam folder. And to make sure you get all the future newsletters, add denise (dot) gaskins (at) tabletopacademypress (dotcom) to your contacts or address book.

Click to View the Newsletter

Not a subscriber? Don’t miss next month’s playful math activities! Click the link below to sign up today, and we’ll send you our free math and writing booklets, too.
Free-Learning-Guide-Booklets2

As a Bonus: You’ll receive my 8-week email series “Playful Math for Families” and be one of the first to hear about any new books, revisions, and sales or other promotions

Math Game Book Giveaway

Free ebook of math gamesTo help spread the news about my Math Rebel Kickstarter, I’m hosting a math game book giveaway.

Three lucky readers will win a paperback copy of my book Let’s Play Math Sampler: 10 Family-Favorite Games for Learning Math Through Play (US shipping only) OR a free copy of any digital book from my publisher’s online store.

The Sampler contains short excerpts from five of my most popular titles. It’s a wonderful way to get started with playful math.

And math games are great for journaling, too! You can play pencil-and-paper games right on the journal page. And for any game, you can use the page for keeping score and writing notes about your strategy for winning.

Check out the Make 100 Math Rebels Kickstarter project to download a beautiful, free 10-page booklet of sample journaling pages.

Make 100 Math Rebels on Kickstarter

How to Enter the Giveaway

The Giveaway is over. Congratulations to winners Angela, Gina, and Linda!

But there’s still time left to get in on the Math Rebellion Project. Don’t miss out on this wonderful chance to launch your children on an adventure of creative, playful math.

Deadline for entries is Friday, February 12, 2021.

To enter the giveaway, you need to do TWO things:

  1. Visit the Make 100 Math Rebels Kickstarter project.
  2. Then click over to the Rafflecopter giveaway page to confirm your entry (and gain some extra points).

Winners will be chosen by Rafflecopter’s random generator and will be contacted by email. You must respond to that email within 48 hours, or we will choose a new winner.

And I’d love to hear your input! Please leave a comment below to let me know what you think of the Math Rebellion project.

The Wisdom of Cats

My publishing company welcomes our two newest employees. Cimorene and Puck will head up our promotions department. Because cats know the internet, and they know how to make people do whatever they want.

Or at least, that’s what they tell me.

Today, Cimorene wants people to back the Make 100 Math Rebels Kickstarter. She thinks everyone should order one of the paperback or hardcover book sets. Because books come in boxes. And boxes are important to cats.

Puck agrees that boxes are a good thing. But he thinks people should choose any pledge level they like. Puck values curiosity and creative thinking, and the Math Rebel project is all about teaching students to explore ideas and think creatively about math.

So listen to the wisdom of cats, and back the Make 100 Math Rebels Kickstarter today!

Make 100 Math Rebels Kickstarter

Working on the Math Prompts

I’d love to see children all around the world learning math as a creative, thought-provoking, liberal-arts adventure. Not just school math, but true mathematical thinking.

If that sounds great to you, too, please visit my Make 100 Math Rebels Kickstarter project and join the Math Rebellion:

Make 100 Math Rebels on Kickstarter

So, now that the Kickstarter’s running full-steam — closing in on our third Stretch Goal! — I’ve been working full-time on the reward books.

At the $5 pledge level and above, backers will get this digital book of 100 Math Journal Prompts.

Except, I’m thinking now it will really be 104 prompts because I plan to release them on my publisher’s online store as two booklets of printable task cards. At four cards per page, a 50-card booklet will have a half-page blank space. And since I’ve collected plenty of prompts (enough to make five booklets, if the funding hits all our Stretch Goals) it’s easy to add a couple more activities to each book.

And besides, creating the prompts is so much fun. I’m happy to throw in some extras!

Kickstarter Loves the Math Rebellion

Yesterday, I got some wonderful news. The folks at Kickstarter awarded the “Projects We Love” badge to my Make 100 Math Rebels campaign. Woohoo!

That’s great because it means they’ll help share the idea of the Math Rebellion with more new people.

Wouldn’t it be great if children could learn math as a liberal art that focuses on creative thinking? Imagine the freedom of no longer worrying about speed and memory. Instead, they can dive head-long into the deeply refreshing waters of reasoning and problem-solving.

Experience the Math Rebellion for yourself. Visit the Kickstarter page to download the 10-page printable sampler file, and discover how creative true math can be:

Make 100 Math Rebels Kickstarter

Printable Activity Guides

Since my publishing house opened its online store last month, I’ve been busy stocking the shelves with printable math activities for all ages.

It’s a fun collection of low- or no-prep ideas for playing math with your kids.

And it’s still growing. I’m pouring through old notes of my favorite projects from years of playing math with the kids in our math clubs and homeschool co-op enrichment classes, looking for ideas.

Which One Will You Try?

We’ve made the first two Geometric Coloring Designs books permanently free.

[The Let’s Play Math Sampler is also permafree, though it’s an ebook, so it’s on a different virtual shelf. You can find it under the “Free Books” section.]

For the rest, we’ve kept our prices as low as possible to fit struggling family budgets — less than a cup of coffee at my favorite cafe, back when we could still go out for a sweet, creamy cuppa.

Just go to our online store and click the “Printable Activity Guides” button to check out all the mathy fun.

Click Any Title for Details

Here are all the books we’ve posted so far.

Free Books:

Math Art:

Games and Puzzles:

Math Facts and Number Play:

Problem-Solving Skills:

Someday, I hope to combine these books into a creative math “uncurriculum” for homeschoolers. Stay tuned to this blog for more news about that. Eventually…

Did You Get Your Books?

One more time, because I’m still finding people who didn’t get their Kickstarter rewards…

To Everyone Who Supported the Math You Can Play Kickstarter

Thank you so much! I’m amazed and awed by how many people from all around the world showed interest in my books. You’re the greatest!

ALL the pledge rewards have now been sent, both digital and physical books.

Everyone should have received two emails:

  • Stretch Goals, four printable pdf math activity books.
  • Your digital (ebook) rewards and printable gameboard files.

Even if you ordered paperbacks, you should have gotten the digital book email.

But we’ve had trouble with things getting lost in the tangles of the internet. If you don’t see these emails, check your Spam folder — or if you use Gmail, look in the Promotions or Updates tab.

If you did NOT receive the emails mentioned above, please let me know!!

You can contact me through Kickstarter or use the About/Contact page on this blog to send me a message.

P.S.: There are still two people who ordered (and paid for) paperbacks but haven’t filled out the Kickstarter survey. I can’t mail out your book package until I get an address. If you can’t find the survey email, feel free to message me directly.

Boxes for the Postman

Here’s another round of books for the Math You Can Play Kickstarter. Almost finished.

If you backed the Kickstarter, thank you!

You should have already received the following:

  • An email with links to your Stretch Goals, four printable pdf math activity books.
  • A second email with links to your digital (ebook) rewards and printable gameboard files.
  • A survey asking for your address, if you ordered paperback books.

And most of you should have already received your paperbacks in the mail. The packages above are for those who ordered the 9-book paperback set. Hopefully, they’ll get to you sometime next week.

If you did NOT receive the emails mentioned above, please let me know!!

We’ve had some trouble with things getting lost in the tangles of the internet. You can contact me through Kickstarter or use the About/Contact page on this blog to send me a message.

And if you are one of the two people who bought paperbacks but still haven’t filled out the survey, please do that soon. I can’t mail out your book package until I get an address.

The Gerrymander Math Project

With a big election on the horizon, now is a great time to talk about the math of politics.

Does “One person, one vote” make a fair democracy?

Or does it give the majority license to trample a minority?

How can planners arrange voting districts to give everyone the best representation? And is that really what politicians would do, if they had the choice?

Try the Gerrymander Project with your students to investigate these questions and spark real-world mathematical discussion.

First, Create a Map

[Or buy a copy of my printable activity guide, The Gerrymander Project: Math in the World of Politics, which includes a prepared city map with more detailed instructions, answers, and journaling prompts. My publisher has extended the 10% discount code TBLTOP10 through to Election Day, 3 November 2020.]

  • Print a blank hundred chart or outline a 10×10 square on grid paper. This represents your city. Give it a name.
  • Pull out your colored pencils. Choose one color for your city’s Majority Party and another for the Minority Party.
  • Color 10 squares in a neutral color for non-voting areas. These might be malls or parks or the downtown business district — your choice.
  • Color the remaining 90 blocks in a random distribution so that 60% are the Majority color and 40% the Minority. How will you choose which squares to make which colors? Can you think of a way to use dice or playing cards to make your choices random, yet still get the right proportion?

Slip your finished map into a clear page protector, so you can mark on it with dry-erase markers. Or make several copies, so you can write on them without destroying the original.

Then Gerrymander Your City

“Gerrymandering” is the American political tradition of adjusting the voting district boundaries to favor one’s own party at the expense of one’s opponents.

The city has hired you to mark out 10 new voting districts of 9 squares each (not counting the neutral squares, which can go in any district). The squares in each district must touch side-to-side, not just meet at a corner.

So now you get to play “political hack.”

First, see how fair you can make the map:

  • What happens if you ignore the party colors and make your districts as compact as possible, so the people living nearest to each other vote together? Will the Majority Party always win?
  • Can you give all your voters a proportional representation? Both parties should win the number of districts that most closely matches their percentage of the voting population.

Next, try your hand at gerrymandering, but make sure all the squares in each district stay connected. Can you create ten voting districts that will guarantee:

  • A come-from-behind triumph for the Minority Party? They need to carry at least six districts to wrest control of the City Council from their opponents.
  • The greatest possible margin of victory for the Majority Party? Can you keep the Minority from winning any districts at all?

Share Your Thoughts

I’d love to hear your students’ reaction to this project. Please share in the comments section below.

For myself, the more I play with this project, the more I admire the work done by the framers of the U.S. Constitution. Our Electoral College divides the country into “districts” based on state boundaries, giving each a vote roughly proportional to its population — but in a way that slightly strengthens the Minority Party. The system may not be perfect, but it’s done an amazing job through the centuries of maintaining a balance of power, making sure that neither major political party can destroy the other.

Which is NOT to say that our country always protects the rights of true minorities. Clearly, that’s an ongoing struggle.

But overall, the political parties stay relatively balanced, making for a stable government. After more than two centuries, we still have, as Ben Franklin said, “a republic, if you can keep it.”