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 as the world slowly recovers from the 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.
And there’s a new one coming soon, from the wonderful people at Natural Math.
“Long ago in the land of China, there were many rain storms … and the land of China was slowly sinking into the sea. This is the story of how a wise emperor, an observant girl, and a magic turtle saved the villages of China from the great flood.”
So begins the story of Ying and the Magic Turtle.
Children, parents, and teachers can enjoy the book for its rich beauty in mathematics and as an ancient legend.
We can play with the mathematics, too, solving the puzzle of the turtle’s shell right alongside Ying.
And we can delve deeper into the power of magic squares by working with puzzles presented at the end of the story.
Join the Crowdfunding Campaign
For more details about Ying and the Magic Turtle, including a peek at the delightful illustrations, check out the Kickstarter crowdfunding page:
Love exploring magical worlds wracked by the struggle of good against evil?
Then don’t miss Teresa Gaskins’s four-book serial adventure, The Riddled Stone.
Those of us who read her earlier books have waited eagerly to hear how the story ends. Two years longer than we hoped, since she had to squeeze in her writing between calculus exams and college essays.
But finally, it’s done!
Now a homeschool graduate, she wrote the last few scenes right at the tail end of her nineteenth year — which means these will be Teresa’s final books as a teen author.
Check them out…
The Riddled Stone: Omnibus Edition, Four Books in One
How can a knight fight magic?
Christopher Fredrico loved the quiet life of a scholar-in-training. Plenty of spare time to spend with his friends. But the night Crown Prince Tyler came to dinner, everything changed.
Falsely accused of stealing a magical artifact and banished under threat of death, Chris leaves the only home he knows.
But as he and his three friends travel towards the coast, they find a riddle that may save a kingdom — or cost them their lives.
Discover the full story of The Riddled Stone, complete in one volume.
A gift she never wanted. A curse she can’t escape.
Alone in the dark, Nora of Yorc feels the dungeon walls pressing in. Even worse, the duke’s sorcery weaves itself around her, unseen and deadly. But as the spell tightens, shy, fragile Nora breaks — and something new takes her place.
Or something old beyond memory.
Nora joined this quest to help her friends. But can she stop herself before the wildness within destroys them all?
Find out in Revealed, the exciting conclusion of Teresa Gaskins’s four-book serial fantasy adventure, The Riddled Stone.
“There are some obvious protagonists and some obvious villains, but Gaskins creates a nice ambiguity around several of the key characters. The plot itself is interesting and engaging with multiple levels of motivation that drive it along.”
“I enjoyed the book and I am absolutely amazed at how such a young author can write so well. I definitely see her going far in her writing career, and I can’t wait to see what stories she publishes next.”
Today we have a guest post — an exclusive tale by Sasha Fradkin and Allison Bishop, authors of the new math storybook Funville Adventures. Enjoy!
Funville Adventures is a math-inspired fantasy that introduces children to the concept of functions, which are personified as magical beings with powers.
Each power corresponds to a transformation such as doubling in size, rotating, copying, or changing color. Some Funvillians have siblings with opposite powers that can reverse the effects and return an object to its original state, but other powers cannot be reversed.
In this way, kids are introduced to the mathematical concepts of invertible and non-invertible functions, domains, ranges, and even functionals, all without mathematical terminology.
We know about Funville because two siblings, Emmy and Leo, were magically transported there after they went down an abandoned slide.
When they came back, Emmy and Leo shared their adventures with their friends and also brought back the following manuscript written by their new friend Blake.
Have you noticed that we live in a wonderful era of mathematical innovation? Not only at the “it’s all over my head” level — which is growing faster than anyone can keep up with — but also at the Cool Math For Kids level.
So many things! I’m sure I forgot one (or several) of your favorite modern-classic math books or toys. I’d love to hear about them in the comments.
And here are a few bits of new playful math. Click, support, and share!
In alternating chapters, Rodi Steinig tells stories about her math circle and exactly what happens there, while her daughter Rachel discusses why so many kids hate math, documents the ways math is taught in the classroom — and ways that can be improved.
When 9-year-old Emmy and her 5-year-old brother Leo go down an abandoned dilapidated slide, they are magically transported into Funville — a land inhabited by ordinary-looking beings, each with a unique power to transform objects.
I had the fun of previewing this book. It’s a cute little fairy tale that should help launch family conversations about math.
Trouble with Monkeys
A boy wants to surprise his dad, but meddlesome monkeys keep getting in the way. The boy is interviewed by the local news, and the story escalates to involve pirates, ballerinas, ninjas — and the magic of our place value number system.
But as with any paperback book, these have one problem. How do I use them without cracking the spine?
When we exercise, we need to warm up our bodies with a bit of stretching to prevent injury. In the same way, we need to warm up a new book to protect it. The process is called “breaking it in.”
It only takes a few minutes to break in a paperback book:
Step by Step
Never force the book but help it limber up gradually, and it will serve you well.
Because my journals are working books, I take the breaking-in process a bit further than shown in the video:
(1) Set the book on its back and follow the process above. Press down each cover, but not completely flat — let it bend at the fold line, about 1 cm from the actual spine. Then press a couple pages at a time, alternating front and back, down flat on each cover.
(2) Flip through the pages of the book forward and backward to limber them up.
(3) Repeat the steps of the video. This time, gently lean the main part of the book away from the part you are pressing down. Aim for a 130–140 degree angle.
(4) Flip through the pages again. For paperbacks, you can even roll the whole book back and forth a bit — gently curving the cover and pages almost as if you’re trying to fold the book in half — to encourage flexibility.
(5) Optional: Repeat the breaking-in process one more time. This time, fold each section back as close to 180 degrees as it will go.
And you’re done!
The pages will still curve in at the fold line, where they connect to the spine of the book. You want that because it makes the book strong. But now they’ll also open up to provide a nice, wide area for writing or math doodling.
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
Memorizing digits of Pi
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.
Are you looking for a fun book to read over the summer? I just finished Lilac Mohr’s delightful Math & Magic in Wonderland, and I loved it.
Highly recommended, for kids or adults!
About the Book
A Jubjub bird disguised as a lark,
Borogroves concealing a snark,
When you’re in Tulgey Wood, you must
Be careful whom it is you trust…
With the discovery of Mrs. Magpie’s Manual of Magic for Mathematical Minds, Lulu and Elizabeth embark on an exciting journey to a realm inspired by Lewis Carroll’s poetry. The twins must use ingenuity and sagacity to solve classic logic puzzles that promise to uncover the book’s secrets and earn them The Vorpal Blade. In this interactive novel, the reader is invited to play along with the two heroines on their grand mathematical adventure.
Do you have the smarts to help Lulu and Elizabeth outwit the frumious Bandersnatch?
It’s time to enter Wonderland and find out!
–from the back cover of Math & Magic in Wonderland by Lilac Mohr
What I Liked
Puns, poetry, and plenty of puzzles. Tangrams, tessellations, truth-tellers and liars. History tidbits and many classics of recreational mathematics.
The sisters Lulu and Elizabeth seem real — though perhaps more widely read than most of us. They are different from each other. They make mistakes and have disagreements. But they never deteriorate into the cliché of sibling rivalry that passes for characterization in too many children’s books.
In each chapter, the girls must solve a language, math, or logic puzzle to proceed along their journey. Then a “Play Along” section offers related puzzles for the reader to try.
No matter how challenging the topic, the book never talks down to the reader.
What I Didn’t Like
… Um … Honestly, I can’t think of anything.
Since it’s traditional to criticize the editing of self-published books, I will say this: There was at least one place where the wording seemed a bit awkward. I would have phrased the sentence differently. But don’t ask me to identify the page — I was too caught up in the story to bother jotting down such a quibble. And I tried flipping through the book as I wrote this post, but I can’t find it again.
Buy, or Don’t Buy?
Buy. Definitely buy.
Unless you hate logic puzzles and despise Lewis Carroll’s poetry.
But for everyone else, this book is truly a gem. If you like The Cat in Numberland or The Man Who Counted, then I’m sure you’ll enjoy Math & Magic in Wonderland.
Disclaimer: Like almost all book links on my blog, the links in this post take you to Amazon.com, where you can read descriptions and reviews. I make a few cent’s worth of affiliate commission if you make a purchase — but nowhere near enough to influence my opinion about the book.
And Now for the Giveaway
Lilac offered a paperback copy of Math & Magic in Wonderland for one lucky reader of Let’s Play Math blog.
The giveaway is done. Congratulations, Keshua!
But the comments section below remains open, and I’d still love to hear your answers:
Tell us about your favorite language, math, or logic puzzle book! Or share a book you’ve been wanting to read.