July Links: Math Mania

I love teaching math! That's hardly a surprise since math was always my favorite subject before I discovered the even greater thrill of applied math in the study of chemistry. Faith, a senior this year, is exploring the possibility of studying secondary math education in college. Woohoo!

Since we're all gearing up for a new school year, I figured this was as good a time as any to share some great links about math education.

Articles Worth Reading

Six Reasons Why Singapore Math Might Just Be the Better Way
We've been using Singapore Math for fifteen years, and this article lays out why it is superior to most other approaches for elementary math. Any decent math program should teach numerical literacy. But math ought to be about so much more, including building logical thinking patterns. (Watch, for example, the answer to a Singapore math question which went viral which is highlighted in this article.)

"Who Says Math Has to Be Boring"  - New York Times article with some reasons why so many kids get turned off to math somewhere between kindergarten and high school. (Not that all the suggested "fixes" are all that great. For instance, the writer wrongheadedly seems to think full-day preschool is a solution!) But there's still some interesting stuff. Here's a bit:
A new study, by researchers at the University of Missouri, showed that the most important factor that predicted math success in middle school and upward was an understanding of what numbers are before entering the first grade. Having “number system knowledge” in kindergarten or earlier — grasping that a numeral represents a quantity, and understanding the relationships among numbers — was a more important factor in math success by seventh grade than intelligence, race or income.
Math manipulatives (counting bears) have taken on new life as game counters in our family


Some help for this essential topic, one that trips up many students.

From the Wall Street Journal : "New Approaches to Teaching Fractions"
Fractions create a wall which many students fail to conquer. And without knowing how to manipulate ordinary fractions, handling algebra becomes impossible.

Here's a sample:
A child's knowledge of fractions in fifth grade predicts performance in high-school math classes, even after controlling for IQ, reading achievement, working memory, family income and education, and knowledge of whole numbers, according to a 2012 study led by Bob Siegler, a professor of cognitive psychology at Carnegie Mellon University.

Visual Fraction Games - Teaches fractions via a number line (as suggested in the article above) with games like  "Find Grampy."

Free Fraction Strips - printable fraction "bars"

Mastering the  Facts

"Dad's Eight Simple Rules for Mastering the Times Tables" : Seven simple rules such as
Rule #7: The Nine Rule - Tens is Number Minus One, Ones is Nine Minus Tens
Using these rules will cut the number of facts to memorize from 100 down to 10.

Teach your kids how to use their 9's calculator! (Yes - your two hands make a "Nifty Nine's Calculator." And you always have it with you.) All of our kids have used this simple, fun trick.
7 x 9 = 63Fingers are numbered 1-10 from L -> R
Finger 7 is bent because we are multiplying by 7
# fingers to left = 6 (tens); # fingers to right = 3 ones = 63

John Woodward's site for Teaching Math Facts: This one is not visually exciting, but if you can wade through it, you'll find gold in the helpful articles on a logical plan for teaching math facts along with downloadable PDFs worksheets. There's good stuff here!

Triangle flashcards color coded by family
(Here: teal = square numbers; green = x 3s; purple = x 9s.)

Triangle Flashcards: Triangle flashcards are more versatile than traditional rectangle ones because you use one set for inverse operations. Which means the same card can be used for both addition and subtraction (or another for multiplication and division) by covering a different part of the card. You can print these for multiplication/division and these for addition/subtraction. Or simply cut out your own triangles from manila file folders and craft your own. Doing that allows you to color code the cards in a way that matches how your child has learned the facts: 2s, 3s, 4s, doubles, etc.

Living Math (Teaching math with literature)

Living Math
Teach math from literature? You've got to be kidding! No, really. But maybe instead would be a nice way to provide a change of pace for a few weeks.

Living Math Book List. Search by categories such as calendars, multiplication, metrics, and estimation. You'll find several book titles for each topic. (Some of this website seems to be down for maintenance, but I was still able to access the book lists.)

Living Books Library Top Picks for Living Math

Just for Fun:

This is really sweet! Make 9 square cookie puzzles with chocolate and vanilla cookie dough as you help build spatial skills. Find instructions at Almost Unschoolers blog.

Hexaflexagons! What is a hexaflexagon? Watch the video, and I'll bet you'll want to make one yourself. Very cool!


Ten Free Math File Folder Games: cute games for young children will help as they learn to count, fractions, addition, skip counting, and more.

Math is Fun: games (such as chess), puzzles (including the famous Tower of Hanoi), and activities organized topically

Multiplication.com : Games for multiplication drill

And More...

I've mentioned this before, but my favorite math blog is Math=Love. If you are teaching algebra, look no further for incredibly helpful tips on teaching this subject, especially if you would like to have your students create Interactive Notebooks.

"Favorite Free Resources for Teaching Math" from Karen at Living Unabridged. Online games, printables, algebra help, and more from one of my favorite bloggers.

Some of my previous math posts:

Choosing a Math Curriculum

Super Supplements for Math

Resources for Teaching Logic and Thinking Skills to PK-Elementary Students

Algebra Love  (Interactive Notebooks)


Kids Math Games said…
It's possible to say that Math is necessary for the growth of the kids' brain. They need something like that to brainstorm. For instance, their brain will start working and gradually become more intelligent if trying to solve puzzles and challenges in Math. Math games based on Math will fascinate them.

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