Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Great Math Books

I'm always on the lookout for a fun and gentle way to teach the kids math concepts. Something that fits in with our living math theory. It amazes me how much more the boys continue to retain this way. For instance, we discussed Roman Numerals many months ago as a brief introduction when we did a unit study based on the book The Glorious Flight. We even made a small flipbook with the Roman Numerals on the outside and the Arabic numbers inside. Morgan has never forgotten Roman Numerals. He's desperate for me to buy a clock that shows them. He asked me to print him out a Roman Numeral paper for his math journal. Why? So he can write some of his answers with Roman Numerals. Seriously, he's obsessed. The best part? He's becoming a math detective because he can scope out a Roman Numeral some 3k's away and will instantly start trying to "decode" it. I'm pretty certain if I had produced a workbook page based on this same concept he would have listened and done the work, but somehow I'm not thinking he would have retained it as well. After all it wasn't until some hands on games that he noticed the pattern and lay-out of a hundreds chart, something he's been using for 4 years!

We're finding some really unique ways to learn math around here. This week alone we've played two really fun card games that the boys are fully hooked on! (Blog posts coming soon, because they are just that fun..) Then yesterday Card Game Roundup showed up in our mailbox, and after whooping and hooraying because we got a package we broke in and picked out a game to play (and bookmarked a whole ton more.) This books is loaded with really fun games, most of which can be played with as little as two people. There is one game, I noticed, that requires 11 people, but can easily be replicated with stuffed animals, cousins, legos, or anything else you can rope into playing along. Today we played a game called 1-2-3, Duel! It's similar to War, but introduces the concept of greater then and less then (something we needed work on) with a wild west theme to it. The rules are slightly different, which also makes for quicker playing time. Strangely enough, I found the boys playing another game of it while they were waiting for their lunch this afternoon.

The mailman also surprised us with The Everything Kids' Math Puzzle Book. We're going to have a lot of fun in our math journals with this fun little book! The book is loaded with history, jokes, riddles, puzzles, explanations, games, and so much more! In fact, I noticed a few fun Roman Numeral puzzles and codes to crack that I'm pretty sure Morgan will love. There was also the recommendation of the book Roman Numerals I to MM. (That will make one really nice Christmas present for a book/math loving little boy I know, don't you think? You can also preview it here, isn't the artwork amazing?) What I love about this book the most is that it has some really creative ways to explain complex things, like binary numbers, burden of proof, and prime numbers. I think it will be a lot of fun to use one of the challenges each day/week for the math journals. I can also see Super Math Bear leaving a few jokes behind. Poppy you better watch out, they might actually know a few "real" jokes now...

This last book is the biggest gem of all. A Collection Of Math Lessons From Grades 1 Through 3 is just an amazing treasure trove of ideas. The book is written by math teachers, and the ideas inside are ones they used on various classes. You'll read actual dialogue that took place, see copies of their notes, and the conclusions that children came up with on a variety of subjects. The book covers a vast range of math topics, and each presented in such a simplistic and gentle way that I was drawn to the book instantly. In fact that's what I love the most about this book, the gentle nature of how the teachers presented the topics to their students. I've only read a small portion of this book and I was pulled in immediately. In fact I was sorely tempted to round the boys up and play a game of Digit Place with them, but I resisted the urge and decided it could surely wait until tomorrow morning. I can see this book being bookmarked, post-it noted, dog eared, and littered with a million different notes. I'll most certainly be purchasing the rest of the books in this series as we need them.