Getting Started with Playful Family Math

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!”

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 (as Peggy Kaye pointed out in her book Games for Math) both will learn something even more important — that hard mental effort can be fun.

Now I’ve put together a short, inexpensive book to help families begin playing with math.

Let’s Play Math Sampler: 10 Family-Favorite Games for Learning Math Through Play 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: Order your copy today.

Find the Sampler at your favorite online store.

“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


howtosolveproblemsWant to help your kids learn math? Claim your free 24-page problem-solving booklet, and sign up to hear about new books, revisions, and sales or other promotions.

Advent Math Activity Calendars

Once again, some of my favorite websites offer a seasonal selection of activities to encourage your children’s (and your own!) mathematical creativity, one for each day in the run-up to Christmas.

Including an especially tough Advent meta-puzzle for truly determined problem-solvers…

Click the images below to visit the corresponding December Math Calendar pages.

For Primary Students

Easier activities for elementary and middle school.

A problem or game that uses dice for each day in the run up to Christmas.

2018 Primary Advent Calendar

When you get to the Nrich website, click a number to go to that day’s math.

For Secondary Students

Activities for middle and high school.

Most of the tasks require dotty paper or circles which you can find on the Nrich Printable Resources page.

2018 Secondary Advent Calendar

When you get to the Nrich website, click a number to go to that day’s math.

For Teens and Adults

“Because sometimes, in the midst of all the family fun, it’s good to put your headphones in and retreat into a word of your own, this year’s advent calendar brings you some of our favourite Plus podcasts. From the secrets of the Universe to the maths of football stadiums, there should be something there for everyone. Happy listening and happy Christmas from the Plus team!”

When you get to the +Plus Magazine website, you can tell which links are live because they jump to a larger size when you tap or mouse over the picture.

Plus Advent Calendar 2018

One link becomes live each day — so come back tomorrow and discover something new!

Christmas Meta-Puzzle

Or try your hand at the biggest mathematical mystery of them all — and save Christmas!

“It’s nearly Christmas and something terrible has happened: one of Santa’s five helpers — Jo Ranger, Fred Metcalfe, Kip Urples, Meg Reeny, and Bob Luey — has stolen all the presents during the North Pole’s annual Sevenstival. You need to find the culprit before Christmas is ruined for everyone.”

Christmas Logic Puzzle

If you solve all the clues and enter the answer on Christmas day, you may win a present for yourself, too.

Still More Mathy Fun

Colleen Young has collected several more holiday math calendars — enough to keep your kids playing and learning well into the New Year. Take a look!

Mathematical Advent Calendars


“Peanuts Christmas Panorama” photo [top] by Kevin Dooley via Flicker. (CCBY2.0)

howtosolveproblemsWant to help your kids learn math? Claim your free 24-page problem-solving booklet, and sign up to hear about new books, revisions, and sales or other promotions.


Playful Math Education Carnival 123: Hundred Chart Edition

Do you enjoy math? I hope so!

If not, browsing this post just may change your mind.

Welcome to the 123rd edition of the Playful Math Education Blog Carnival — a smorgasbord of delectable tidbits of mathy fun.

The Playful Math Carnival is like a free online magazine devoted to learning, teaching, and playing around with math from preschool to high school. This month’s edition features \left ( 1 + 2 + 3 \right )^{2} = 36 \: articles from bloggers all across the internet.

You’re sure to find something that will delight both you and your child.

By tradition, we start the carnival with a puzzle in honor of our 123rd edition. But if you would like to jump straight to our featured blog posts, click here to see the Table of Contents.

Or more, depending on how you count. And on whether I keep finding things to squeeze in under the looming deadline. But if there are more, then there are certainly 36. Right?

The 1-2-3 Puzzle

Write down any whole number. It can be a single-digit number, or as big as you like.

For example:
64,861,287,124,425,928

Now, count up the number of even digits (including zeros), the number of odd digits, and the total number of digits it contains. Write those numbers down in order, like this:
even 12, odd 5, total 17

Then, string those numbers together to make a new long number, like so:
12,517

Perform the same operation on this new number. Count the even digits, odd digits, and total length:
even 1, odd 4, total 5

And do it again:
145
even 1, odd 2, total 3

If you keep going, will your number always turn into 123?

Click here for all the mathy goodness!

70+ Things To Do with a Hundred Chart

Do the holidays mess with your schedule? They sure do mine!

Every year, we get busy. Distracted. Just can’t focus on lessons.

I love easy activities that require minimal preparation so I can pull something out and play when we’re having one of those no-energy days.

If that sounds good to you, too, then you’ll want to check out my new ebook 70+ Things To Do with a Hundred Chart: Number, Shape, and Logic Activities from Preschool to Middle School.

Long years ago, when I did workshops at homeschooling conferences, I used to share a list of seven ways to play with a hundred chart. The all-time most visited post on my blog offers 34 playful activities. Now I’ve more than doubled that total for this book.

So many ways to play! One of them is sure to be perfect for you and your children.

Take your child on a mathematical adventure with these playful, practical activities.

Who knew math could be so much fun?

Get your copy today!

“It is exactly the kind of math exploration that I want to undertake with my kids.

“After reading through the book, I noticed myself making more room to trust my kids’ ability to make connections and not try to dominate by telling them how math ‘should’ work.

“An excellent way for me to move outside my math and teaching comfort zones and explore math more deeply with my kids.”

— Olisia Barron, author of ThimbleberryHome.wordpress.com

P.S.: If you have a blog and would like to host a giveaway for 70+ Things To Do with a Hundred Chart (or any of my other books), I’d be glad to provide the prize. Leave a comment below or use the contact form on my “About” page, and we’ll set up all the details.


howtosolveproblemsWant to help your kids learn math? Claim your free 24-page problem-solving booklet, and sign up to hear about new books, revisions, and sales or other promotions.

Math Is Like a Nature Walk

Learning math is more like taking a meandering nature walk than like climbing a ladder of one-topic-after-another. Kids need to wander around the concepts, notice things, wonder about them, and enjoy the journey.

— Denise Gaskins
from a comment on the Living Math Forum


CREDITS: Background photo courtesy of Annie Spratt on Unsplash.

howtosolveproblemsWant to help your kids learn math? Claim your free 24-page problem-solving booklet, and sign up to hear about new books, revisions, and sales or other promotions.

Play. Discuss. Notice. Wonder.

You don’t need a set of worksheets or lesson plans to learn math. All you need is an inquiring mind and something interesting to think about.

Play. Discuss. Notice. Wonder.

Enjoy.

— Denise Gaskins
Playing Complex Fractions with Your Kids


CREDITS: Background photo courtesy of Steve Shreve on Unsplash.

howtosolveproblemsWant to help your kids learn math? Claim your free 24-page problem-solving booklet, and sign up to hear about new books, revisions, and sales or other promotions.