Math for Star Wars Day

May the Fourth be with you!

Here is a math problem in honor of one of our family’s favorite movies…

Han Solo was doing much-needed maintenance on the Millennium Falcon. He spent 3/5 of his money upgrading the hyperspace motivator. He spent 3/4 of the remainder to install a new blaster cannon. If he spent 450 credits altogether, how much money did he have left?

Stop and think about how you would solve it before reading further.

Continue reading Math for Star Wars Day

Homeschooling Tip #1: Start with Play

For children, learning always begins with play. This is how they wrap their minds around new ideas and make them their own.

“There should be no element of slavery in learning. Enforced exercise does no harm to the body, but enforced learning will not stay in the mind. So avoid compulsion, and let your children’s lessons take the form of play.”

—Plato, The Republic

If we want our children to learn math, our first job is to establish an attitude of playfulness.

This is especially important for anyone working with a discouraged child or a child who is afraid of math. The best way to help a discouraged child is to put away the workbook. Try something different, fun, and challenging.

Play Math Games

Free ebook of math games
Download my free ebook of math games at your favorite online store.
Games meet children each at their own level, helping them understand that hard mental effort can be fun.

  • My Favorite Math Games: All the free games here on my Let’s Play Math blog, sorted by age/grade levels.
  • Math for Love Games: Collected by the creator of Tiny Polka Dot and Prime Climb.
  • Games for Young Minds: Kent Haines’s posts teach not only how to play the games, but also how to help your children think about the math.
  • Acing Math: A huge collection of topical worksheet-replacement games to play with a deck of cards.
  • Math Hombre Games: The motherlode of math games for all ages. It’s easy to get lost on this page, so bookmark it and explore a bit at a time.
  • For older students: Games and Math at Math Munch blog.

Play Math Art

Download my free 42-page printable coloring book, with links to additional activities.
Math art lets children experiment with geometric shapes and symmetries. Through art, students can explore a wide range of mathematical structures and relationships.

Join the Conversation

The next post in this How to Homeschool Math series will be all about the joy of reading math.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you!

  • What are your most pressing questions about helping your children with math?
  • Or what tips would you share with other parents?

Please add your ideas in the Comments section below.

CREDITS: Photo (top) generously supplied via Unsplash.com by National Cancer Institute.

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 a quarter-century 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.

Learning math is an adventure into the unknown. The ideas we adults take for granted are a wild, unexplored country to our children. Like any traveler in a strange land, they will stumble over rocky places and meet with unexpected detours.

Many parents long to find a perfect math curriculum that will smooth over those rocky places. There is no such thing. Stumbles and detours are a necessary part of learning.

But you can help your children along the journey. Here are my top five tips for navigating the mathematical wilderness:

  1. Start with Play.
  2. Read Books Together.
  3. Consider Your Own Perspective.
  4. Listen to Your Children.
  5. Focus on Making Sense.

Click those links for a variety of ideas and resource links to help you with each of these areas.

Do you want to get started right away? Download a free copy of my Sampler ebook featuring ten family-favorite math games you can enjoy with your children today.

Join the Conversation

In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you!

  • What are your most pressing questions about helping your children with math?
  • Or what tips would you share with other parents?

Please add your ideas in the Comments section below.

Photo by Simon Rae on Unsplash

CREDITS: Photos generously supplied via Unsplash.com by Sandy Millar (top) and Simon Rae.

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.

When you’re stuck at home and getting bored, it’s a great time to play math with your kids.

Math games meet children each at their own level. The child who sits at the head of the class can solidify skills. The child who lags behind grade level can build fluency and gain confidence.

And both will learn something even more important: that hard mental effort can be fun.

The Let’s Play Math Sampler contains short excerpts from my most popular books, including a preview of two games from my work-in-progress Prealgebra & Geometry Games.

Don’t miss it: Download your copy today.

Free Online Preview

Shop Now

Ebook available FREE at most bookstores:
Amazon-logo google-play-badge Barnes-Noble-logo kobo-logo apple-books-badge Scribd_logo and other online retailers.

Or you can order the paperback by special request at your favorite local bookshop.

Update 1: Has your favorite store refused to adjust its price? (I’m looking at you, Amazon!) Try this link, and the good folks at BookFunnel will help you load the ebook file to your reading device (phone, Kindle, etc.): https://bookhip.com/SAATAW.

Update 2: I’ve added a downloadable PDF file to the BookFunnel link, for those who prefer a printable format.

Reader Reviews

“Denise Gaskins is that sound voice of reason that comes into my head when I get agitated teaching. This isn’t performance — this is play. My kids aren’t on trial, they are learning to learn.”

—Sonya Post

“By exploring math in a playful way, your kids will be happy to learn and will discover an enjoyment of math in the process. You might even have fun, too! ”

—Olisia Yeend

NOTE: In many locations, you can get the rest of my playful math books free if you request them on your library app or through your local librarian.

Playing with a Hundred Chart #35: The Number Grid Game

This is a pretty simple game, but it makes a nice variation on the Race-to-100 game for young children who need to work on counting by tens from any number.

See the Number Grid Game (PDF)

How to Play

You’ll need a 6-sided die, a hundred chart (printables here), and a small token to mark each player’s square. A crumpled bit of colored construction paper works well as a token.

Take turns rolling the die. If you roll:

  • 1: Move either 1 or 10 squares, your choice.
  • 2: Move either 2 or 20 squares.
  • 3–6: Move that number of squares.

The first player to reach the final square by exact count wins the game.

Variation #1: For a shorter game, the first player to move off the board wins. You don’t have to hit the final square by exact count.

Variation #2: For a longer game, if you cannot move your full roll forward, you must move backward. Rolling 6 is a “wild card” — you can move any number from one to ten.

Variation #3: Count down. Start at the highest number on your chart and subtract each roll, moving toward zero. If you have a chart like the original shown above, a player whose move goes past zero into negatives will add the number on their next roll.

More Ways to Play on a Hundred Chart

A hundred chart can provide mathematical play from preschool to high school. The list on my blog began many years ago with seven activities, games, and logic puzzles.

Wow, has it grown!

Discover 30+ Things To Do with a Hundred Chart

New Math Board Game: MULTI on Kickstarter

If the math classic The Product Game got together with Ultimate Tic-Tac-Toe, this game would be their child.

According to game creator Federico Chialvo, “MULTI is a fantastic 2-player math game designed with the joy of mathematics in mind. This game is so fun your kids won’t want to stop playing, and neither will you!”

Originally designed for students in 2nd-5th grade, MULTI helps children develop fluency with multiplication facts and the relationship between multiples and factors. Even better, the rich strategy and gameplay can be enjoyed by people of all ages.

If you want to play math with an elementary-age child, check out the Kickstarter:

Click Here for the MULTI Game on Kickstarter

“Mathematics is a polarizing topic! For some, it is a fountain of wonder, beauty, and intrigue. For others, it is a cold dark thing, something to be avoided or even feared. Yet, my experience has shown that everyone can find joy in mathematics when it is presented in the right way.”

—Federico Chialvo
MULTI – Math Board Game – Fun For All Ages!