The Best Math Game Ever

The Substitution Game features low-floor, high-ceiling cooperative play that works with any age (or with a mixed-age group) — and you can use it while distance learning, too. It’s great for building algebraic thinking.

Excerpted from my upcoming book, Prealgebra & Geometry: Math Games for Middle School, scheduled for publication in early 2021. Sign up for my newsletter to get updates.

The Substitution Game

Math Concepts: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, order of operations, integers, fractions, equivalence and substitution.

Players: any number (a cooperative game).

Equipment: whiteboard and markers (preferred) or pencil and paper to share. Calculator optional.

Continue reading The Best Math Game Ever

Journaling Pages

This afternoon, I’ve been working on the printable pdf math activity booklets I’ll be sending out as stretch goals to the backers of my Math You Can Play Kickstarter campaign.

Some of the booklets include dot grid pages for student journaling.

I love dot grid pages for writing because I can start a line anywhere on the page, and the dots help me keep things in line. (They’re also great for doodling.)

As students wrestle their thoughts into shape and create explanations, they do the same sort of work that mathematicians do every day. It’s difficult for children (or anyone) to pin down a thought and put it into words. But it’s great practice for life.

Journaling is a great practice for adult learners, too — and don’t we all want to be lifelong learners?

So I thought I’d share the journaling pages with you all, in case you’d like to get your children writing about math. There are three styles, ranging from plain to ornate parchment. Enjoy!

Download the Journaling Pages

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.)

How Mathematics Works

The full quote, as it appears in my new book:

Make a conjecture. A conjecture is a statement that you think might be true.

For example, you might make a conjecture that “All odd numbers are…” How would you finish that sentence?

Make another conjecture. And another. Does thinking about your conjectures make you wonder about math?

Can you think of any way to test your conjectures, to discover if they will always be true?

This is how mathematics works. Mathematicians notice something interesting about certain numbers, shapes, or ideas. They play around and explore how those relate to other ideas. After collecting a set of interesting things, they think about ways to organize them. They wonder about patterns and connections. They make conjectures and try to imagine ways to test them.

And mathematicians talk with one another and compare their ideas. In real life, math is a very social game.

—Denise Gaskins
Prealgebra & Geometry: Math Games for Middle School

Excerpted from my upcoming book, Prealgebra & Geometry: Math Games for Middle School, scheduled for publication in early 2021. Sign up for my newsletter to get updates.

CREDITS: “Three girls counting” photo by Charlein Gracia on Unsplash.

Math Conversation Starter

(Click for larger image.)

What do you see?

Does it make you wonder?

How is perspective art similar to the isometric drawing in yesterday’s post? How is it different?

You may also enjoy:

CREDITS: William Hogarth – “The importance of knowing perspective” (Absurd perspectives), Engraving on paper. From Wikimedia Commons.

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.)

Moving Patterns Game on Kickstarter

We all know kids like to move. But did you know you can harness all of that innate energy into developing a conceptual understanding of mathematics?

The Moving Patterns Game is an active, self-directed game featuring patterns, footwork, friends, and math. Dancing makes life fun, and math makes the dancing more interesting!”

—Malke Rosenfeld

Continue reading Moving Patterns Game on Kickstarter

How to Homeschool Math

Far too many people find themselves suddenly, unexpectedly homeschooling their children. This prompts me to consider what advice I might offer after more than three decades of teaching kids at home.

Through my decades of homeschooling five kids, we lived by two rules:

Do math. Do reading.

As long as we hit those two topics each day, I knew the kids would be fine. Do some sort of mathematical game or activity. Read something from that big stack of books we collected at the library.

Conquer the basics of math and reading, then everything else will fall into place.

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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.

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