Did you miss What About Math: Part 1? Click over to read about some of our favorite math games.
Pst: Hey, if you do click over, you may notice that I said this would be a two part series. Well, it’s now a three-parter. Sometimes math has a way of, um… multiplying.
Updated to add: Part 3 – Math Videos, DVDs and shows
Last Friday, I attended my Mentor Mothers group. We get together each month to talk about homeschooling, great books and how to mentor our children in their educations. The subject turned to math instruction, as many homeschool conversations inevitably do. Why? Because teaching math can be intimidating, especially if the teacher has come to believe that she is just not a “math person”. That’s what I used to think about myself.
I’d think, “I’m a book person, not a math person”.
When I decided to take on the task of homeschooling, math was the one area that really had me nervous. Maybe that’s why I’ve spent so much time seeking out good, quality math resources. That’s right, I was compensating.
Along the way, I’ve learned at least two things:
- Math is awesome. I really do like it. I think, like many children, I had confused a dislike for conventional methods of math instruction with a dislike for math.
- It is possible to be both a book person and a math person at the same time. Especially when you discover all of the cool books about math that are out there.
Here are some of our favorites:
The Muderous Maths Series
We have a few of volumes of this series on our shelf and I certainly plan to add more. I just pulled More Murderous Maths off my shelf. This is what the back cover says:
Find out how to escape the evil clutches of Professor Fiendish, why maths could save us from the utter destruction of life on Earth, and meet perilous Pythagoras, who got so upset about maths that he murdered someone.
Doesn’t that sound a whole lot more thrilling than your average textbook/worksheet combo?
A couple of years ago, Newt asked me what 3D meant. We got out one of our Murderous Maths books and read about different dimensions: 1D, 2D, 3D and the theoretical 4D. I had never quite understood the concept. Now I do. What’s more, my then eight year old did too.
Note: Murderous Maths are published in the U.K. (hence the “maths” instead of math). Sometimes Amazon has reasonably priced used copies, but it’s hit and miss. If you are in the U.S., I’d recommend buying from Horrible Ray (I know!) at Horrible Books. He imports the maths books (and horrible science, history, geography, etc. titles) and resells them at great prices.
The Complete Book of Fingermath: Simple, Accurate,Scientific
This book teaches you how to turn your fingers into an abacus, which will then allow you to work out complicated problems without a calculator or even a pencil. The thing I like the most though is that as you learn the method, you also better learn why, for example 4×8=32. Great for tactile learners.
Math is fun. No, really.
Family Math is full of mathematical games and activities for all levels and abilities. It’s a great way to play with math – and learn a lot too.
Brown Paper School book: I Hate Mathematics! and Brown Paper School book: Math for Smarty Pants
Like Family Math, these books are full of games and activities, but they are also really funny. Humor goes a long way in my family. It’s the Poppinsish “Spoonful of Sugar”. Not that we consider math the medicine. Anymore. But that’s only thanks to books like this.
I also love that they delve into deeper concepts than plus and minus, multiply and divide. Like ratios, probability and infinity. And how slicing a banana could lead to a
sonic boom hyperbola!
Concepts like this breathe life into math. They make it interesting and fun. Too often the cool things aren’t taught until most kids have had all the interest sucked right out of them by too many carry-the-ones. (Not that the basic operations are unimportant. I just think it’s important to teach the cool stuff early on as well. Or at least get a glimpse of the concepts.)
Why Pi? and Go Figure!: A Totally Cool Book About Numbers
Speaking of deeper concepts, I can’t leave out these books. Through them we have been able to explore Fibonacci numbers and Pascal’s triangle, paradoxes and topology. The topology lesson came in handy last year at a corn maze. We learned that a great way for solving mazes is to keep your right (or left, just be consistent) hand on a wall at all times. Most mazes can be quickly solved this way. Math is awesome. Try it!
The Life of Fred Series
This is a series of stories about Fred Gauss, a six-and-a-half year-old boy who also manages to be a professor at the fictional Kittens University. Through his adventures (and misadventures) the reader learns not just concepts, but how to solve math problems from fractions* to trigonometry. There are problems to solve after every chapter. After every five chapters, there is a bridging section. You must get a certain number of problems correct before going on.
I am personally working my way through the series and loving it.
*Actually, just a few months ago, the publisher released some early ed Life of Fred books, so I suppose they now go from basic counting on up. Yay for Fred!
Some other books we enjoy:
The Sir Cumference Series
Math Talk: Mathematical Ideas in Poems for Two Voices
The Adventures of Penrose the Mathematical Cat
The Number Devil: A Mathematical Adventure
The Cat in Numberland
We have many, many more on our shelves, but those are pretty much the cream of the crop. Do you have any math favorites? Please share them in the comments.
Next time, I’ll share our favorite math DVDs and videos.
Disclosure #1: I am using Amazon affliate links. If you purchase anything from my Amazon links, I get a small commission, which I will likely use to buy more math books. It’s a sickness, I think.
Disclosure #2: Horrible Ray has never heard of me. I get nothing for recommending his site. I wish I did. Ray, if you’re reading this, could we work something out? Pretty please? [eye flutters]