Cool Math

By , May 12, 2010 5:34 pm


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!

4 Responses to “Cool Math”

  1. Thank you thank you thank you! My kid LOVES math. His mother’s day card even included some math problems for me. I look forward to reading these.
    .-= Mom and Kiddo´s last blog ..Busy Work IV: Taking Notes =-.

  2. Natalie says:

    Have you seen any of the “Sir Cumference” books by Cindy Neuschwander? They are a lot of fun to read and cover many math topics in very subtle and entertaining ways.

  3. Mom Unplugged says:

    Thank you Natalie! I wasn’t familiar with these but just looked them up and they look fun. I think we’ll have to order one and give it a try. Thanks again for the recommendation!

  4. have you thought of using programs such as to help them understand and make their own fractals … you should be able to print some fractals the kids like, put them in a nice frame in their room or laminate them … their work of art type of thing … i did that sort of thing for myself :-)

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