To Badger a Child

Here’s the full quote:

Audrey seemed, for once, at a loss for words. She was thinking about the question.

I try to stay focused on being silent after I ask young children questions, even semi-serious accidental ones. Unlike most adults, they actually take time to think about their answers and that often means waiting for a response, at least if you want an honest answer.

If you’re only looking for the “right” answer, it’s fairly easy to gently badger a child into it, but I’m not interested in doing that.

—Thomas Hobson
Thank You For Teaching Me

CREDITS: “Pismo Beach, United States” photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash.

How to Build Math Literacy

Here’s the full quote:

We all know reading a book each day to our child develops their love of literacy… well, playing games is the equivalent in maths.

Through playing card games and board games (just short and sweet ones) children develop problem solving, counting and so many other skills.

Imagine if every time you play a game you say, “Let’s do some maths.” What a positive association your child will develop with maths!

—Ange Rogers
Instagram post

Discover more creative ways to play math with young children at the Number Doctors blog.

CREDITS: “Falling dice” photo by Riho Kroll on Unsplash.

Morning Coffee – 31 August 2020

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 morning coffee this week:

  • David Butler’s post Twelve matchsticks: focus or funnel presents an interesting puzzle. But even better, it opened up a rabbit hole of thought-provoking posts about how to talk with children — or anyone.

“The approach where you have an idea in your head of how it should be done and you try to get the student to fill in the blanks is called funnelling. It’s actually a rather unpleasant experience as a student to be funnelled by a teacher. You don’t know what the teacher is getting at, and often you feel like there is a key piece of information they are withholding from you, and when it comes, the punchline feels rather flat.”

—David Butler
Twelve matchsticks: focus or funnel

Continue reading Morning Coffee – 31 August 2020

Morning Coffee – 24 August 2020

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 morning coffee this week…

“We are all mathematicians. We all have the power to notice, describe, and generalize patterns. You have all had this ability since birth. If we believe this then every day we must plan lessons that allow students to act as mathematicians. We must put something in front of our students to notice. We must put something in front of our students to describe, to generalize.”

—Sara VanDerWerf
What is Math? What do Mathematicians do?

Continue reading Morning Coffee – 24 August 2020

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.)

Morning Coffee – 17 August 2020

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 morning coffee this week:

“A strategy is how you mess with the numbers, how you use relationships and connections between numbers to solve a problem. A model is a representation of your strategy, the way the strategy looks visibly. Modeling your strategy makes your thinking more clear to others because they can see the thinking and the relationships that went into your process.”

—Pam Harris
Strategies vs. Models

  • Do you have preschool or elementary students? Michael Minas has a great collection of games on his blog. Easy to learn and full of mathematical thinking.

“Doing mathematics like this deprives students of, well, let’s be honest, mathematics itself. We need to get to the answer faster. We need to move on. No time to stumble around rabbit holes. There is a curriculum to cover.”

—Sunil Singh
Our Fear of Being Lost Devalues The Beauty of Mathematics

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

Only by Thinking

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

When we give students a rule, we give them permission not to think. All they need to do is remember our instructions.

But it is only by thinking — by struggling their way through mental difficulties — that our students can build a foundation of mathematical knowledge strong enough to support future learning.

—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.

CREDIT: “Thinking” photo by Sean Kong on Unsplash.

Morning Coffee – 10 August 2020

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 morning coffee this week:

“The happy truth about doing math with your kids is that it’s way more fun than you’re expecting it to be. It’s not about right answers, and it’s not about speed. It’s about playing, counting, building, sorting, and studying the wonderful, colorful world around us.”

—Dan Finkel and Katherine Cook
How to help your kids fall in love with math: a guide for grown-ups

Continue reading Morning Coffee – 10 August 2020

A Gentle Reminder

Shaista is a homeschooling mom who read an advance copy of my new book. Her response:

“I want to shout from the rooftops about it. It’s a wonderful read on the importance of play in maths — and a gentle reminder for those of us who know but feel pressured to make sure educational standards are met … and in the process of ticking off boxes we sometimes suck the joy out of maths, instead of realizing that it’s a journey to enjoy.”

— Shaista

Prealgebra & Geometry: Math Games for Middle School is scheduled for publication in early 2021. Sign up for my newsletter to get updates.

PHOTO CREDIT: “Outdoors kids” courtesy of Annie Spratt on Unsplash.

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.

Continue reading How to Homeschool Math