Math Adventures – Part B

Just a reminder to not forget about all of the math books offered through Marilyn Burns and the Brown Paper School.  You can see those books in two previous posts, one titled ‘Heading Math-Induced Whining Off at the Pass’ and the other, ‘Brown Paper School’.  I opted not to re-post them here, but they are definitely books not to be missed when thinking about a living math approach!

Feeling somewhat more energetic this evening, thank you very much, so I can tackle eleven or twelve more math adventure resources.  Remember, these are based on a ‘Living Math’ approach, which is a different take on teaching math.  This approach helps to establish a working foundation upon which a child can build; it helps the child see quite clearly that math is basically everywhere, that it seems to be one of the guiding forces of our universe.  It also establishes the realization that math is interesting!  Even if the concepts seem way over a child’s head, it doesn’t hurt to introduce them – and there are plenty of cleverly written ways to accomplish these introductions.  Tomorrow Max and I are taking a look at the Möbius strip – not an in-depth examination, but a smidge more than a cursory glance.  We’re going to play with one, pretend we’re a bug crawling on one and trace it’s path, and do some cutting to see what we end up with.   The lesson should take about 15-20 minutes.  If he has energy or interest left to look at what Penrose has to say about nature’s use of probability in redwood tree growth, well then, we’ll head in that direction.  If not, that’s okay.  I am completely comfortable following a gentle, curving path through math concepts right now instead of a pointed in-your-face-learn-this-because-you-are-in-fourth-grade tactic.  It just doesn’t FEEL right – I say this even as I am stifling the urge to pull out the multiplication worksheets again!  He has a grasp of the multiplication tables, but is not lightning fast with his answers – he’s tried to stick the facts into the crevices of his memory and it’s just not working for the time being.  My response has been to step back and not pressure him.  I don’t think his difficulty with the times tables is unusual and would surmise that many children experience a similar period of time.  And that’s all it is – it’s a period of time in which multiplying is not important in his world.  When he is ready, I’ll know and we’ll take it from there.  There are several resources listed below to help teach multiplication in a fun way.

Okay – more resources!

Click on the book if you’d like to learn more about it.

Young Robert’s dreams have taken a decided turn for the weird. Instead of falling down holes and such, he’s visiting a bizarre magical land of number tricks with the number devil as his host. Starting at one and adding zero and all the rest of the numbers, Robert and the number devil use giant furry calculators, piles of coconuts, and endlessly scrolling paper to introduce basic concepts of numeracy, from interesting number sequences to exponents to matrices. Author Hans Magnus Enzensberger’s dry humor and sense of wonder will keep you and your kids entranced while you learn (shhh!) mathematical principles. Who could resist the little red guy who calls prime numbers “prima donnas,” irrational numbers “unreasonable,” and roots “rutabagas”? Not that the number devil is without his devilish qualities. He loses his temper when Robert looks for the easy way out of a number puzzle or dismisses math as boring and useless. “What do you expect?” he asks. “I’m the number devil, not Santa Claus.” (Ages 10 to adult).

Yes!  A pleasant blast from the past, only this one’s not grammar related.  This DVD would be something I would look for for Max when we’re ready to revisit those tables of numbers.  Join the Schoolhouse Rock team as they explore math and multiplication with their unique style of irresistible melodies. This classroom edition DVD includes favorites such as Three is a Magic Number and My Hero Zero. Includes a bonus interactive assessment activity to reinforce key learnings, Public Performance Rights, and a printable educator’s guide.

Hilarious reproducible stories and follow-up problems, reinforce essential fraction skills: addition, subtraction, division, multiplication, decimals, ratios, and more. Includes annotated answers.  By Dan Greenberg.  Louis Lewis, Fractional Private eye is a character in the book as is Texarkana Bernstein, the world’s greatest adventurer and her trusty dog, Woovis.

We have this one and will pull it out eventually.  Another Dan Greenberg humorous take on math.  He has other comic strip math books, too.

From a homeschool mom reviewer:  “Many children struggle learning and recalling multiplication facts, and need other techniques rather than rote memorization to master these skills. Eugenia Francis’ workbook utilizes wonderful, strategies and methods to do so – such as learning to recognize and attend to patterns for the multiplication tables, using memory tricks/mnemonics, and other engaging and fun techniques. I recommend Teach Your Child the Multiplication Tables as a helpful resource for children to learn the math facts and understand the principles of multiplication.”

This is in my shopping cart at Amazon as a reminder to buy it or find it.  For the auditory learners!  Some reviewers said the songs are corny, yet the writers took the time to really think about this strategy and came up with a tool that works.  Yes, you can move on to Division Unplugged when you are finished if you want to.

Another multiplication option.  In this one the numbers are connected to different characters and then stories are told about the characters.  It’s a picture method of learning the facts.

More songs.  I guess the accompanying DVD wasn’t that good, but the songs are catchy.  They can also be purchased as MP3’s via Amazon.  Did you know that some penguins can rap?  The song isn’t too bad, so don’t worry.  Listeners will learn about our world, music, art, history and science while practicing math because the writers incorporated layered learning throughout.  And this is interesting as I’ve not heard this term before – it received the 2005 carschooling award.  Carschooling.

Science fiction, teenagers, mathematical absurdity and problems in the fourth dimension.  This book is more suited to older kids, sixth grade and up, maybe even older.

Activities, math concepts and math history.  The subtitle is “100 Ways Parents and Kids can Share the Wonders of Mathematics”.

This book is structured in a question and answer format, with the questions having been submitted by actual students trying to understand pre-algebra.  Dr. Math answers the questions in a non-threatening, often easy manner that many younger kids will be able to understand.  This is a good reference, too, for those of us who have been distanced from algebra for sometime and are now faced with teaching our children!  Dr. Math to the rescue to help explain things.  Whew.  Dr. Math can also help with geometry.

I think I included this book  in another post awhile back.  A more-toward-middle-school-age book.  Join the Cryptokids as they apply basic mathematics to make and break secret codes. This book has many hands-on activities that have been tested in both classrooms and informal settings. Classic coding methods are discussed, such as Caesar, substitution, Vigenère, and multiplicative ciphers as well as the modern RSA. Math topics covered include: – Addition and Subtraction with, negative numbers, decimals, and percentages – Factorization – Modular Arithmetic – Exponentiation – Prime Numbers – Frequency Analysis. The Cryptoclub presents a number of different systems of encryption and methods of breaking them. Each type of cipher is presented in detail and exercises are included allowing students to apply the techniques presented. The Cryptoclub also includes short descriptions of famous examples of secret codes, including the Beale Ciphers, the Zimmerman telegram, and the German Enigma cipher.

Herein ends the current tour through Math Adventures.  Be sure to refer to Julie Brennan’s site for more information.  My next post will likely be about math games!


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