Playing with Math: My Favorite Posts

The articles that attract a browsing reader aren’t the same as the ones that pull on my heart. Yesterday, I shared my most-visited blog posts of 2019. Today, I give you my most-loved posts of the year.

#12

A fun challenge, based on an old family-favorite game.

Math Game: Six Hundred

Players around the world have played poker-style dice games for ages. Reiner Knizia included this mathematical version in his book Dice Games Properly Explained

#11

Math art — what a delightful way to learn!

Updated Geometric Coloring Designs

I created these coloring pages for my homeschool co-op math kids, and then collected them into a downloadable 42-page PDF coloring book for your family to enjoy…

#10

I could watch this video every day.

Math That Is Beautiful

Do you have trouble believing that math can be beautiful?

In “Inspirations,” artist Cristóbal Vila creates a wonderful, imaginary work studio for the amazing M.C. Escher…

#9

One of my favorite hobbies is collecting inspirational quotes as I read.

Find the Sweetness in Math

Good problems can help us fall in love with math and make a delicious meal of it, sinking our teeth into tough problems, tenderized by their intrigue…

#8

From the beginning of this blog, more than a decade ago, my desire has been to help homeschooling parents (and other teachers) change how they look at math.

Math Makes Sense — Let’s Teach It That Way

Annie Fetter is talking to classroom teachers, but her message is just as important for homeschoolers. Math is all about making sense. Let’s help our kids see it that way…

#7

An excerpt from the draft of my coming-someday-it-always-takes-longer-than-I-expect Prealgebra & Geometry Games book.

Math Activity: Polite Numbers

Did you know that numbers can be polite? In math, a polite number is any number we can write as the sum of two or more consecutive positive whole numbers…

#6

A sweet little game that was a big hit with my K–2nd grade homeschool co-op math class this year.

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

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…

#5

This number-pattern activity was so much fun with my upper-elementary class.

A Puzzle for Palindromes

Here’s a math puzzle for palindrome week — or any time you want to play with math…

#4

For years, I’ve been meaning to create an email series about learning math through play. This year I finally did.

8 Weeks of Playful Math for Families

Yes, your kids CAN learn to love math. Keep your children’s math skills fresh with my 8-week email series of math games and activities…

#3

Not a single blog post but a whole new feature, which I hope to continue in the new year.

Morning Coffee

One of the best ways we can help our children learn mathematics (or anything else) is to always be learning ourselves…

#2

The Playful Math Blog Carnival is a labor of love for all our volunteer hosts. This year, August was my month to play.

Playful Math Education Carnival 130

The Playful Math Carnival is like a free online magazine devoted to learning, teaching, and playing around with math. It’s back-to-school time in the U.S., so this month’s edition focuses on establishing a creative math mindset from preschool to high school…

#1

But the work closest to my heart this year wasn’t math at all. My daughter finally concluded her fantasy novel series, the major project of her teen homeschooling years. When she gave me the manuscript to edit, I didn’t get any sleep that night. She had me hooked — I had to find out how it ended!

The Final Books from a Homeschooled Teen Author

Do you enjoy binge reading tales of epic fantasy? 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

How About You?

Do you play math with kids? Please tell us one (or a few) of your favorite things. What touched your heart this year?

CREDITS: “Sparkling heart” photo (top) by Jamie Street on Unsplash.

Top Playful Math Posts of 2019

Here are my most-visited posts and pages in 2019. So many ways to play with math!

#12

I love books, don’t you?

Math with Living Books

Do you want to enrich your mind with the great ideas of mathematics? Are you looking for a good book to whet your child’s appetite? Then the following pages of “living” math books are for you…

#11

A logic challenge that doubles as addition practice. Or is it the other way around?

Math Game: Thirty-One

Thirty-One comes from British mathematician Henry Dudeney’s classic book, The Canterbury Puzzles

#10

Turn a regular deck of cards into math flashcards. Adaptable to any operation.

Review Game: Once Through the Deck

The best way to practice the math facts is through the give-and-take of conversation, orally quizzing each other and talking about how you might figure the answers out. But occasionally your child may want a simple, solitaire method for review…

#9

Seasonally popular enough to make the list every year. You’ll find even more mathy fun in my updated Holiday Math Carnival.

Christmas Math Puzzles and Activities

We interrupt our regularly scheduled math program to bring you the following Christmas links…

#8

A counting game for all ages.

Math Game: Fan Tan (Sevens)

Fan Tan may also be called Crazy Sevens. Like any folk game, it is played by a variety of rules around the world…

#7

The updated post (which ranked at #18 for the year) is better: My Favorite Math Games. Eventually I hope it will surpass this old one.

20 Best Math Games and Puzzles

Over the years, Let’s Play Math blog has grown into a sprawling mess, which can make it very hard to find the specific math tip you’re looking for…

#6

What a wonderful, inspiring movie! You may also enjoy the related Women of Mathematics Carnival.

Hidden Figures Teaching Resources

Before computers were machines, computers were people who computed things. This complicated task often fell to women because it was considered basically clerical. That’s right: computing triple integrals all day long qualified as clerical…

#5

One of my all-time favorites, still helpful after all these years.

Number Bonds = Better Understanding

Number bonds let children see the inverse relationship between addition and subtraction. Subtraction is not a totally different thing from addition; they are mirror images…

#4

I intended to write a follow-up series based on this post. Maybe in 2020?

How to Read a Fraction

Fraction notation and operations may be the most abstract math monsters our students meet until they get to algebra. Before we can explain those frustrating fractions, we teachers need to go back to the basics for ourselves…

#3

A dark horse in third place! I never expected this post to draw much interest.

Puzzle: Factoring Trinomials

My high school class ended the year with a review of multiplying and factoring simple polynomials. We played a matching game, and then I gave them this puzzle worksheet…

#2

A perennial favorite: widely adaptable, easy to learn, and kids enjoy it.

The Game That Is Worth 1,000 Worksheets

Have you and your children been struggling to learn the math facts? The game of Math Card War is worth more than a thousand math drill worksheets, letting you build your children’s calculating speed in a no-stress, no-test way…

#1

A well-deserving winner, with activities for preschool through middle school.

30+ Things to Do with a Hundred Chart

Are you looking for creative ways to help your children study math? Even without a workbook or teacher’s manual, your kids can learn a lot about numbers. Just spend an afternoon playing around with a hundred chart…

CREDITS: “Sparkling 2019” photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash.

Morning Coffee – 4 Nov 2019

Morning Coffee image

One of the best ways we can help our children learn mathematics (or anything else) is to always be learning ourselves.

Here are a few stories to read with your Monday morning coffee:

“Games aren’t just about practice and fluency. My favorite games create opportunities for learning, too. They spark discourse, promote the use of strategies, and allow students to dig into the mathematics.”

—Jenna Laib
The Simple-but-High-Leverage Game Collection: Making Games Routine

  • Have you read Pam Harris’s Development of Mathematical Reasoning series? Check out Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. Well worth your time!

“The teacher’s role is to help students change the way they think, in increasingly sophisticated ways. The goal is not answers. The goal is development. We don’t need students who can just answer a multiplication question, we need students who can reason multiplicatively.”

—Pam Harris
The Development of Mathematical Reasoning

CREDITS: Feature photo (top) by Kira auf der Heide via Unsplash. “Morning Coffee” post format inspired by Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader.

Morning Coffee – 28 Oct 2019

Morning Coffee image

One of the best ways we can help our children learn mathematics (or anything else) is to always be learning ourselves.

Here are a few stories to enjoy with your Monday morning coffee:

“When you’re working every day, you’re not thinking, ‘What impact is this going to have on the world?’ You’re thinking, ‘I’ve got to get this right.’”

—Gladys West
quoted in Dr. Gladys West: The Black Woman Behind GPS Technology

  • I like to keep a quick game in reserve for spare time in my homeschool co-op class. Kent Haines explains Sprouts and suggests ways to launch math discussions.

“I don’t get irritated by these mistakes. I desperately wait for such mistakes. Yes! Because I think it is a golden opportunity for the teacher to spot a student thinking this way. It presents just the right context and time for driving an enriching mathematical conversation in the whole class.”

—Rupesh Gesota
Part-2: Re-learning and Enjoying Polynomial Division with students

“To teach students SSS congruence without pointing out why this is so interesting is harmful for two reasons. First of all, this is an amazing result. It is the our job to point out amazing results! Triangles are rigid figures in a way that other polygons are not.”

—Rachel Chou
Teaching the Distributive Property

CREDITS: Feature photo (top) by Kira auf der Heide via Unsplash. “Morning Coffee” post format inspired by Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader.

Morning Coffee – 4 Oct 2019

Morning Coffee image

One of the best ways we can help our children learn mathematics (or anything else) is to always be learning ourselves.

Here are a few stories to read with your Friday morning coffee:

  • In the spirit of cracking eggs to make omelets, Michael Pershan cracks open some of the ideas around Equations and Equivalence and relational thinking.

“My experience is that when I have vague hope that children will learn something from an activity that is related to the mathematics I want them to learn, they usually don’t.”

—David Wees
Hands on or minds on?

CREDITS: Feature photo (top) by Kira auf der Heide via Unsplash. “Morning Coffee” post format inspired by Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader.

Morning Coffee – 30 Sept 2019

Morning Coffee image

One of the best ways we can help our children learn mathematics (or anything else) is to always be learning ourselves.

Here are a few stories to read with your Monday morning coffee:

  • Kathy Iwanicki’s students explore an unsolved math puzzle: the Hailstone Sequence. I think my co-op class might enjoy this activity, too.
  • If you want to understand how number concepts develop through the school years, Graham Fletcher’s Progression Videos are a great place to start. Watch, re-watch, and learn.

“Learning occurs when we get something wrong and have to correct it. This is analogous to the much better known fact that when we subject our bodies to physical strain, say by walking, jogging, or lifting weights, the muscles we strain become stronger — we gain greater fitness.

“Indeed, the learning is better if the correction occurs some time after the error is made. Stewing for a while in frustration at being wrong, and not seeing how to fix it, turns out to be a good thing. Cracking your ego is an unavoidable part of learning.”

—Keith Devlin
On making omelets and learning math

CREDITS: Feature photo (top) by Kira auf der Heide via Unsplash. “Morning Coffee” post format inspired by Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader.