Give-away has now ended. Congratulations, Amy and Jacqueline!
Math is more than just chugging through arithmetic problems in a workbook. But, we homeschool parents are busy. It can be hard to find the time (or energy) to seek out resources that help our kids appreciate and enjoy math beyond the textbook.
That’s why I’m so grateful for Denise Gaskins’ new book: Let’s Play Math: How Families Can Learn Math Together and Enjoy It. I expect I will refer to this book many times in the future, because Denise has gathered up a treasure trove of living math resources for busy parents. If you’ve ever struggled to see how to make math come alive beyond your math curriculum (or if you’ve ever considered teaching math without a curriculum), you’ll want to check out this book.
Denise is a veteran homeschool mom and math educator who blogs at Let’s Play Math. Her book is just like her website: full of enthusiasm, warmth, and practical suggestions. But her book goes well beyond blog posts, with chapters that help readers both see the big picture of math instruction and understand how to put those lofty goals into practice.
The book is divided into four main sections, along with a hefty appendix of resources:
How to Understand Math
In the opening section, Denise provides an overview of what we’re trying to accomplish as we teach math to our kids. She encourages parents to learn math along with their kids and to seek to spark feelings of joy and wonder—not drudgery! She writes,
Real mathematics is intriguing and full of wonder — an exploration of patterns and mysterious connections. It rewards us with the joy of the “Aha!” feeling.
Next you’ll find many specific ways to make math a playful, social part of your homeschool day. Denise explains the benefits of conversation and stories in math instruction and provides a thorough guide to using some of the most essential math manipulatives. She also provides detailed examples of games and puzzles that help children learn to solve problems and think, not just imitate procedures.
Math with Living Books
Here, Denise offers a brief tour of math throughout history. Understanding the history of math helps kids realize that math is a living discipline and not just a fixed set of rules. This section also has wonderful suggestions for many living math books to use in your homeschool. This list complements the appendix of resources and references, which offers even more living math books, as well as a comprehensive list of online math helps.
Let’s Get Practical
Finally, Denise lays out what a week of math without a formal curriculum might look like, along with suggestions for integrating workbook work. She also offers a fabulous list of questions for sparking math conversation with your child and a guide to high school math studies.
Her take on this is a little different than mine—I prefer to add living math resources to the structure of a formal math curriculum, rather than the other way around—but if you’re an unschooler or have ever thought about taking a less-traditional path in math, you’ll especially appreciate this section. But as she says,
No matter where you stand in the continuum between textbook instruction and total unschooling, timed drill and laid-back play, the important question remains the same. What is your mathematical worldview? Are you showing your children techniques for getting right answers, or are you weaving a web of interrelated ideas?
This is ultimately the goal of math instruction: children who enjoy math, understand the concepts (and the connections between concepts), and are able to use math to solve real problems. Let’s Play Math will help you accomplish this task, wherever you stand on this continuum.
Let’s Play Math is available now as a paperback and in Kindle format at Amazon.
(Or, you can whet your appetite for the entire book by downloading the introduction and first two chapters.)
Denise has graciously provided a paperback copy and electronic copy for two of my readers to win! Click the box below to enter. Contest ends Wednesday, February 24 at midnight.
The give-away has now ended. Congratulations, Amy and Jacqueline!