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Archive for the ‘Math’ Category

Continuing my Math kick for this week, I wanted to post my review of a book by Greg Tang. Mr. Tang has written many math type children’s books and we’ve enjoyed each one that we’ve read.  The Grapes of Math:  Mind-Stretching Math Riddles is a fun but challenging book.  It is definitely for ages 5+ and unless your 5 year old is very advanced in Math, he or she may not be able to answer the riddles the way they are intended, but could have fun counting and listening to the rhymes anyway.

My first impression of this book is that it would be a fun read, lighthearted and interesting.  The illustrations are colorful and appealing to many ages.  The riddles on each page are creative and rhyming.  All of this while challenging children to find quicker ways to solve problems and to sometimes look for what isn’t there rather than what is there.

From the author’s note:  “The Grapes of Math introduces children to the art of problem solving through a series of engaging math riddles.  These riddles challenge kids (and parents!) to think creatively while teaching valuable tricks for adding more quickly and accurately.”

I always appreciate the attention to detail in books that allow the book to be used in a variety of ways.  For instance, each page of the book has a riddle with a corresponding picture to solve.  The riddle is just for fun.  Then comes the question…and what I love is that the question is in a different color and jumps off the page, so if you want to just flip through the book and try the problems without the riddles, you can easily do that.  So here’s an excerpt from the book:

Flying Seeds:

When summer days are really hot,

A watermelon hits the spot.

With every messy, juicy bite,

I spit the seeds clear out of sight!

Can you count each little seed?

Here’s a hint that you may need.

It’s best to pair them slice by slice,

Find a sum, and add it thrice!

Then the picture on the opposite page is of 6 plates, each with a slice of watermelon on it.  Half of the slices have 6 seeds, the rest have 5 seeds.

The book includes an answer section with explanations of what you should be encouraging your child to look for on each page.  The whole idea of the book is to get your child to think outside what he or she might normally look for in solving a problem.

I found this book to be just genius in it’s approach and fun factor.  As a homeschooler, I love the idea that I could spend an entire day’s math lesson curled up on the couch with my son paging through this book and discussing the concepts, and he just may never know he’s learning something.  Perfect for those days when kids aren’t feeling great, or toddlers are running rampant, or when your first grader informs you that if he has to write one more number in his life, it’s likely that he’ll loose all abilities in his hands, because it’s just. that. torturous.  Yeah, for those days…go get this book!  You can find a list of Greg Tang’s math books here.

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As promised, here’s my first math book review!

How do you combine teaching math concepts, corny puns, and knightly adventure?  Author Cindy Neushwander (don’t worry, her book is much easier to read than her last name!) has done so quite successfully.  Sir Cumference and the First Round Table:  A Math Adventure is a knightly tale that introduces children to the parts of the circle.  The cast of characters includes Lady Di of Ameter, Sir Cumference, King Arthur, and a carpenter Geo of Metry.

King Arthur is having some problems with his neighbors, the Circumscribers.  So he calls upon his trusted knights.  The problem is King Arthur’s table.  The rectangular table is too long.  Lady Di helps him come up with a square table, and we see the drawings.  But that table has it’s own set of problems.  Lady Di comes up with several solutions, making cuts and changes to the shape of the table, but each shape has it’s own set of problems for the knights.  Finally Lady Di, Sir Cumference and their son, Radius, set out for a ride and spot a tree fallen on its side.  Radius suggests it could be the new table for King Arthur.  Lady Di measures it with her body, from head to toe.  The table works out just perfectly, and they eventually find out that the Circumscribers aren’t planning an attack, they only wanted to measure the area of the kingdom!

What a clever book!  I love how the author used details about each characteristic of the circle and made them traits of the characters.  The illustrations clearly show how the cuts are made to change each shape to the next.  At the end, each character explains his role in the adventure, relating to his name.

It turns out that this publisher(Charlesbridge) has many other Math Adventure stories.  If you need a children’s story about the Pythagorean theoremFibonacci sequence, pi, probability, or measuring angles, Charlesbridge has a book for that and more.  I can’t speak to any of the others in the series, but if they are as creative and fun as this one, I highly recommend them.

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One plus One

My son just finished his first grade math book.  We’re going to keep trudging along, on into the 2nd grade level.  That’s the beauty of homeschooling.  But I wanted to find some fun books for my son to read in the next few weeks to review the concepts he’s learned in the last few months.  I’ve gotten a few math books out of the library in the past, but haven’t reviewed any here yet.  I came across this great website with a lovely list of living math books for addition and subtraction concepts.  I have a bunch of these on request at the library.  So check back next week for a review or two of some of these.  I’ve also added this to my sidebar for future easy access.

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