Classics can inspire a love of learning, even in math.
Am I crazy?
Classics in math?
No, I’m not crazy.
When my kids were younger, we read math books with great stories that teach mathematical concepts. When I was planning for one year, I flipped through some books from our discontinued rack. I found a book called Math Trek and thought this might work with Hunter when he was twelve year old, especially since he couldn’t find his math workbook at the time.
Have you ever lost a math workbook?
Plus, I wasn’t very excited about starting his math workbook.
Math Trek has about seven or eight chapters. Each chapter focuses on a mathematical concept or math puzzles. The first chapter is all about knots. My son used a string to see if the loops drawn on the page would really knot or unknot. After going through several of these, he discovered there are fake knots, as well as cool information about knots. He worked through three more chapters before I knew it. He lovds this book. In fact he came up a week later and says, “Mom, is there a Math Trick Two?”
I had to tell him, “I didn’t know. The reason we’re using this one is that it didn’t sell at the book sales last year. Aren’t you glad it didn’t sell?” He never complained about doing his math studies that week. We still need to find his math workbook, which we did eventually find. My thought is to alternate between math workbooks and living math stories.
If you’re trying to figure out a book that would help you inspire Math, I highly recommend Mathematicians Are Real People, Too. We started reading one chapter a week in January. Each chapter has a short biography of a famous mathematician.
The first chapter we read was Thales. Thales figured out how to measure the height of a pyramid by using shadows and ratios. The ratio of Thales’ shadow to his height, compared to the shadow of the pyramid determined the height of the pyramid. One of my children did not know what a ratio was. When we finished the chapter, we sat on the bed with paper, figuring out all sorts of ratios.
Did he have to complete math books to learn how to use ratios?
No. Ratios became real life after we tried some on paper.
The next chapter was about Pythagoras. Two of my children knew the Pythagorean Theorem, but the other one did not. He did know what the square of a number was, so he understood the concept of squares. He was introduced to the concept of the Pythagorean Theorem as we read about Pythagoras. Next he read What’s Your Angle, Pythagoras?, which futhered his understanding of the Pythagorean Theorem. He completely understood the theorem after reading What’s Your Angle, Pythagoras?
One of most popular math book series I have ever found is Sir Cumference.
Take a look and see all the math concepts your child can learn in Sir Cumference