Do you have a reluctant math student? Unfortunately I have two of them. My 7 and 9 year-old are stuck in that very tedious phase of math where everything seems to be all about drilling problems. According to her recent parent-teacher conference, my 4 year-old on the other hand, currently spends much of her time in the “math environment” of her Montessori classroom. As her proud Mom, I have of course already planned out her future career as an engineer!
The foundation of math can be pretty boring. I remember that from my school days. Fortunately I ended up loving math later, and even took it in college.
I keep thinking, if only there was some way to make it clear to them that math can actually be really cool later on, then perhaps they’d be willing to slog through this early stuff until the light bulb comes on for them as it did for me.
Fortunately I recently discovered the math stories by Theoni Pappas. I bought Fractals, Googols, and Other Mathematical Tales (that’s some of the cool stuff!) and The Adventures of Penrose the Mathematical Cat (my kids love cats).
I have begun reading the fractals book out loud with my oldest daughter. We have read several chapters and she keeps wanting more! Each short chapter has an easy and creative explanation of a different complex, mind-bending concept presented in story format. Often there are related activities to do, or puzzles to solve. At the end of the chapter is a highlighted box with more complete information about the concept, usually involving history or practical applications.
The Möbius strip was one of the real WOW chapters that we have read so far (see our photo above).
Will these books turn my children in to math-lovers? Who knows, but they are fun!