Language and Math

Still working on my Prealgebra & Geometry Games book. I’m amazed at how much of learning math is really about language.

With the current layout, the book will be 250+ pages long, depending on how the index turns out. A total of 41 games plus four math investigation activities. I’ve defined more than 100 vocabulary words — so averaging more than two new math words per game.

Of course, several of these are words (or at least concepts) students will have learned before. But a large part of prealgebra is consolidating previous ideas and mastering their names (sum, quotient, factor, multiple, etc.) before moving on to apply them in algebra class.

But it’s not all review! There’s a cool game about polar coordinates, a rabbit trail into combinatorics, and plenty of other challenges to keep students learning.

And plenty of clear definitions for adult readers who have long ago forgotten all the math terms they learned in school.

Prealgebra & Geometry: Math Games for Middle School is scheduled for publication in early 2021. Sign up for my newsletter to get updates.

How to Draw Minecraft Blocks

Running out of time on my Math You Can Play Kickstarter, so I better get to work on that Kickstarter Special Edition math-art book I promised to all the backers as a bonus reward.

Today I’m working on the Isometric Drawing and Impossible Figures section, because my co-op math classes had so much fun learning how to draw those.

Here’s a starter image on how to draw Minecraft blocks. At first I called them “isometric blocks” — but changing the name to “Minecraft” made the students really excited to learn. I’m not sure whether I like the pencil sketch, or if I should remake the illustrations on the computer…

Key steps:

  1. Make a Y.
  2. Turn it into an M.
  3. Slant down for the bottom.
  4. Slant up for the top.
Student drawings from my co-op classes.

The most common problem for beginners is that they try to make the base straight. They know a block can sit on a table, so the bottom has to be flat, right? But once students get a feel for how it goes, they can really take off and have fun.

UPDATE: The Kickstarter deals have ended, but my playful math books are still available through your favorite online store or by special order at your local bookshop. (Except for the Prealgebra & Geometry Games book, scheduled for publication in early 2021. Sign up for my email list to get the latest news.)

Behind the Scenes with the Index Edit

Gel pens are wonderful for editing because they show up so well against the manuscript text. Each pass gets a new color. The picture above is the 5th cycle through my Prealgebra & Geometry Games index, this time with purple ink.

When I printed the output from cycle #4, everything looked so neat in three columns with alphabet headers in place. I thought, “This is almost done!”

Moral: Don’t judge an index by how nice it looks.

Still, it’s also not as bad as the marked-up pages make it seem. Only a few of those will be major tweaks. (Like, how did we not notice that the Jack Lyon quote got left out of the reference section?!)

Plenty of work to go, but the end is in sight…

Prealgebra & Geometry: Math Games for Middle School is scheduled for publication in early 2021. Sign up for my newsletter to get updates.

Still Working on the Index

With the less-than-help of my daughter’s cat, I’ve made it through several cycles of editing my Prealgebra & Geometry index. If you’re curious about the process, you may enjoy my behind-the-scenes peek at How to DIY a Nonfiction Index.

There’s yet a ways to go, but it’s starting to look like what I want. The index includes game listings by category: card games, pencil and paper games, cooperative games, solitaires, etc.

One of the entries is “Games, Complete List of.”

So I counted…

Officially, the book features 41 games that help prepare students for high school math by playing with number properties, mixed operations, integers, algebraic functions, coordinate geometry, and more.

But when I counted all the official game listings plus all the game variations that were different enough to have their own names — 62 games.

Wow!

Prealgebra & Geometry: Math Games for Middle School is scheduled for publication in early 2021. Sign up for my newsletter to get updates.

Working on the Index — Part Two

This morning is day-of-rest time, streaming the church service. I’m still avoiding as much contact with people as I can manage since I may be going back at any time to help my elderly mom, and I don’t want to carry the virus to her.

But this evening, I’ll probably be back at my desk, slogging through the Index work on my Prealgebra & Geometry Games book — scheduled for publication in early 2021. (Sign up for my newsletter to get updates.)

So here’s the second installment of my behind-the-scenes peek at just part of what goes into making a book, reprinted from the Alliance of Independent Authors blog.

Continue reading Working on the Index — Part Two

Working on the Index — Part One

Now I’ve got a tiny streak going, it seems like a shame to miss a day of blogging. So here’s a bit of behind-the-scenes as I work on finishing up the new book.

By the way: Prealgebra & Geometry: Math Games for Middle School is scheduled for publication in early 2021. Sign up for my newsletter to get updates.

So, back to the Index. Here’s a post I wrote for the Alliance of Independent Authors blog last year. If you ever wondered what goes into designing a book, this is just a little of the detail work…

Continue reading Working on the Index — Part One

Play Math with Your Kids for Free

One of the most common questions I get from parents who want to help their children enjoy math is, “Where do we start?”

My favorite answer: “Play games!”

And in this time of pandemic crisis, it’s even more important for families to play together. So my publisher agreed to make my ebook Let’s Play Math Sampler: 10 Family-Favorite Games for Learning Math Through Play free for the duration.

Continue reading Play Math with Your Kids for Free

Giveaway: Let’s Play Math Sampler

Want to help your children learn math?

Teach them to play.

My new Let’s Play Math Sampler: 10 Family-Favorite Games for Learning Math Through Play contains short excerpts from my most popular titles, including a preview of two games from my work-in-progress Prealgebra & Geometry Games.

It’s a great way to get started with playful math!

This week, my publisher Tabletop Academy Press is offering a free copy of the Sampler to TWO lucky winners.
[Winners with a U.S. mailing address will receive both paperback (by U.S. Media Mail) and ebook (by online download) versions of the book. International winners will receive ebooks only.]

How to Enter the Giveaway

The giveaway is over, but I’d still love to hear your “math memory” comments.

  • Share a math memory! Scroll down to leave a comment with something from your school days, a cute thing your child has said, or anything else about learning or playing with math.

Congratulations to our winners: Michael and Caroline. Check your email for details on how to claim your Let’s Play Math Sampler books.

10 Family-Favorite Games for Learning Math Through Play

Oops! I can’t believe I forgot to post these links when my latest book came out way back in March. Indie author fail…

Do you want your children to enjoy learning math?

Teach them how to play!

In excerpts from five of my most popular books, the Let’s Play Math Sampler features ten kid-tested games covering math concepts from counting to prealgebra.

Free Online Preview

Pick up a copy of the Let’s Play Math Sampler today, and make math a playful family adventure.

Buy now:
Amazon-logo google-play-badge the_book_depository_logo Barnes-Noble-logo kobo-logo ibookstore-badg Scribd_logo and other online retailers, or order the paperback by special request at your favorite local bookshop.

…And now I just need to go back and update my original pre-order post, so everyone can find the book no matter which blog they happen to read…

“Laughing Girl” photo (top) by ND Strupler via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).