Saturday, April 2, 2016

Math Is Fun!

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Some people cringe when they hear those words... Math is fun.  Fun? Yes, FUN! Math is all about numbers and patterns and graphs and statistics. It's about fractals and computers and nature and ... life!

Our family's favorite parts of math are the fun and games. We've read books about math as bedtime stories, and play math games to make car trips seem shorter, no pen or paper required. Here are a few of our favorites.

Math books are great for independent reading and reading aloud.

The Number Devil: A Mathematical Adventure. The perfect bedtime read-aloud, The Number Devil is all about Robert's dreams.  Robert hates math. In his dreams, he goes on many adventures, led by the mysterious Number Devil. From number triangles to prime numbers, Fibonacci numbers and beyond, The Number Devil leads Robert through the amazing world of number theory, as he learns just how lovable numbers can be!

The Math Curse points out just how much math is life. As the author says, did you ever have one of those days where everything is a problem? 30 minutes with 10 things to do, 3 shirts and 2 pants to make up 1 outfit, and so on and so on. And then there's school... why can't you keep the 10 cookies without someone taking away 3? You're under the Math Curse!

Sir Cumference and the Knights of the Round Table. The first in a fun series, Sir Cumfernece takes us to the land of King Arthur, where Sir Cumference, his wife Lady Di of Ameter, and their son Radius, with the help of the carpenter, Geo of Metry, create the perfect Round table for the King's peace negotiations. Continue folowing Sir Cumference's adventures with The Sword in the Cone, The Dragon of Pi, and more!

When you think of alphabet books, you might think of some rather boring books to teach toddlers their alphabet.  G is for Googol is an alphabet book that is far from simple, and has something to teach kids from preschool to adult.  Do you know how big a Googol really is? What's a Rhombicosidodecohedron?  The Fibonacci series? And lots more, from A to Z! Once you master the alphabet from Abacus to Zillion, check out Q is for Quark, and discover science from Atom to Zzzzzzz.

For tons more great math books, visit Hoagies' Gifted Hot Topics Reading List: Mathematics.

Reading is rewarding, but Games are grand! Math games bring hands-on practice to arithmetic, logic, and other math skills. Our family loves math games while we're in the car or at home.

The 24 Game is a great game at home, but with older kids, we play more often in the car these days.  In the card game at home, Players try to solve a card containing 4 numbers, using those numbers to get to 24.  You might get there by addition, subtraction, multiplication or division. Advanced sets include Fractions / Decimals and Algebra/Exponents, using additional math functions to reach 24.

Once you know how it plays, you can play The 24 Game in the car.  How?  In many states, including mine, license plates usually contain 4 numbers and 3 letters. Pull up behind a car and use the 4 numbers to play.  (0 become 10). So the plate in front of us contains 2, 1, 5, 0. Using 2, 1, 5 and 10, one of us comes up with 10*5 = 50 / 2 = 25 -1 = 24! Sometimes we find different solutions to the same plate.  Math is FUN!

Speaking of travel, whenever we travel I keep Math Dice in my computer bag or purse.  The small mesh bag makes a perfect travel case. Inside, find 3 six-sided and 2 12-sided dice.  Roll the 12-sided dice and multiply them to get the target number.  Roll the 6-sided dice and use those three numbers to reach the target. Much like The 24 Game, but with a different target number each time, making it a little more creative and challenging.

A great new addition to my math games collection is Prime Climb. Prime Climb appeals to kids and adults, and helps kids with their math facts and prime recognition along the way. Roll the dice, and add, subtract, multiply or divide to get to the center of the board. :Land on an opponent? Send them back to start.

Math isn't just about numbers. SET is probably the single highest recommended game for gifted kids of all ages. Cards are dealt and your job is to find a set of three cards. Each card contains three characteristics: shape, color, fill, and number. Each characteristic in a set must be the same or all different. So a set might contain 3 green cards, but the cards might have 1, 2, and 3 shapes on them. Those shapes might all be ovals, but they might have solid, striped, and empty fill. Can you spot a set? Are there any sets in the tableau of 12 cards, or must 3 more cards be dealt? For beginners, separate the deck into a single color and have only 3 characteristics instead of 4, plus you'll have two more small decks to use at the same time!

Math also includes construction, and ZomeTool is an amazing construction set. Sets can be simple or complex, and can be used for tons of creative play. There are puzzles, educational units for many grades, and real-life to ZomeTool opportunities. From the Bubble Kit to the Hyperdo, ZomeTool grows with gifted kids through college and beyond!

For more math toys, visit Hoagies' Gifted Smart Math Toys and Games.

Whatever you do, teach your kids (and yourself!) that math is fun... because it is, and it should be. And once they know that math is fun, the sky is the limit!

This blog is part of the Hoagies' Gifted Blog Hop on March Math-ness. Please visit all the blogs in the hop by clicking here...


  1. Thanks for this great post and list! Some of these we already know and love, but will follow the other suggestions. I love the idea for playing 24 with license plates! Genius! DD will love it. I thought to post the following anecdote: ran to the search engine of my local library to see if it had a copy of "G is for Googol". I did a title search on the book. The search engine replied: "Did you mean g is for goat (2 results)?" I thought this was hilarious--matches so well the responses that our kids often receive out there.

  2. LOL It does, doesn't it? Simplify, redirect.

    Enjoy the math games. I know my kids did!