We started last year using a combination of workbooks and Life of Fred, and we ended it with a full-time living maths experiment inspired by Denise Gaskins’ Let’s Play Math. I’m pleased to say that the experiment has been a huge success and we plan to continue with it next year.
Why I judged our living maths experiment a success
* both C(9) and J(8) eagerly agree to do maths
* I’ve noticed big improvements in their problem-solving abilities
* they’re more confident tackling challenging maths problems
* because our maths sessions include a lot of conversation, they’re more articulate in using mathematical language and talking through problems logically
* this has extended to their spontaneous use of mathematical charts and diagrams to help solve problems
Our living maths routine
I prefer routines to structured schedules so our plans are loose. Some days J(8) likes more structure – on these days he asks to use Life of Fred which we read together.
I try to balance the kind of activities we do over a week, and tailor the day’s activity to our mood. If we get caught up in a long project like discovering pi I don’t worry about fitting in anything else.
I usually do maths with each child separately, though often the other will join in when they see us playing a game or swapping story-problems.
Problems and Puzzles
We grab a few puzzles or problems, settle ourselves comfortably on the sofa with a whiteboard and dry-wipe marker each (and usually the dog. He likes living maths) and get to work (play).
Next year I’m planning to add in the Murderous Maths series and a few other Rob Eastaway books, and I’m sure many more will make their way onto our shelves.
This term we’ve learned about circles and measuring angles with the Sir Cumference series. I have several more of these on our shelves, which we’ll use as a springboard for more geometry play next year.
And I’m very excited about doing a project using The Librarian Who Measured the Earth, which tells the story of how Ancient Greek mathematician Erastosthenes measured the circumference of the Earth. (Modern scientific estimates differ by less than 2%!)
At least once a week we’ll play maths or logic games. Some of our favourites this year have been
KenKen (iPad version)
Speed (iPad version)
We’ll also continue to try out games we find online, like Contig Jr and make up our own games using a hundred chart.
Maths is very hands-on round here. Some days we get out our tangrams, pattern blocks, Lego, metre ruler, compasses, measuring cups or weighing scales and just play.
This summer I’m preparing by reading books like Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics and taking Jo Boaler’s free Stanford University How To Learn Math course. (I highly recommend Boaler’s highly readable and eye-opening The Elephant In The Classroom – titled What’s Math Got To Do With It? in the US.)
I’m looking forward to sharing more of our living maths adventures over the next year. What maths fun do you have planned?