Joyful Math Encounters: Resources for Families and Teachers

The first blog post of 2020 is dedicated to math. When I was an elementary math coach, I had the opportunity to work with thoughtful educators and participate in professional development that led me to better my teaching and coaching. Now that I provide educational support to various learners, I continue to seek out resources that help me refine my practice and be more effective as a tutor. The message I want to share is that math can and should be a joyful experience for everyone. It is my hope that you find these resources useful and inspiring whether you are a parent who wants to convey a positive message about math or an educator wanting to recenter your teaching.

Engaging books about mathematics learning.

Mathematics for Human Flourishing by Francis Su

A beautifully written book about the importance of cultivating an appreciation for math. Francis Su makes the argument that the proper practice of math helps people flourish. This book will help you reflect on your experiences with math and change your view of what mathematics is and who it is for.

This book will help you see math differently and discover how the practice of math involves exploration, playfulness, beauty, truth, justice, struggle, and other virtues that lead to human flourishing.

We are all teachers of math because we communicate our attitude about math through our comments and gestures. We can make positive comments that encourage curiosity, making improvements and sense-making or we can communicate negativity. If we are afraid of helping our children with their math work, we are passing math anxiety onto them.

“Mathematics is the science of patterns and the art of engaging the meaning of those patterns.”

~Francis Su

Math Recess: Playful Learning in an Age of Disruption by Sunil Singh & Christopher Brownell

Sunil Singh and Christopher Brownell make the case that mathematics learning and teaching should be based on playfulness and a love of learning. This is an another excellent book for parents looking for ways to reflect on their own classroom math experiences and for ways to help children have positive experiences with math. Each chapter provides links to math game, videos, and puzzles perfect for family game nights. The chapter titled, “Math Playground” contains a list of math resources which includes:

  • board games,
  • video games,
  • game websites,
  • book lists,
  • math blogs,
  • inspirational quotes,
  • puzzles & mini-problems, and
  • paper and pencil games

There should be no such thing as boring mathematics.

~Edsger Dijkstra

Welcome to Math Class: A Collection of Marilyn’s Favorite Lessons Grades K-6 by Marilyn Burns

This resource of for math educators and comes from the well known and well respected math teacher and advocate, Marilyn Burns. This book is a compilations of sixteen lesson vignettes. What I love about this lesson resource is how varied the lessons are and how they focus on engaging students in problem solving and game playing. As a teacher, the vignette presentation style of the book, helps me think through the mathematical content in a lesson, the necessary preparation and the importance of reflection.

In the Welcome to Math Class Podcast, Marilyn Burns discusses the idea behind the book and her collection of lesson stories. In “Why Play Games in Math Class?”, Marilyn explains the value of game playing, her favorite math games, and how they support learning.

“Games can motivate students, capture their interest, and are a great way to get in that paper- and-pencil practice.”

~Marilyn Burns

I hope you find these resources inspiring and useful. These three books have helped me begin the year with a reflection of my practice and provided me with the inspiration to provide engaging and playful learning math experiences.

Published by

Maria Arana

Hi, I am Maria, a mom to three wonderful kiddos. My family and I live in Phoenix, Arizona. We love the beauty of the desert southwest. I am a former primary teacher and elementary math coach. I love to encourage my children to follow their interests and passions. At Guided Learning Studio, I offer private personalized lessons and enrichment classes. Tutoring services are best for families seeking long-term educational support over a semester or school-year.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s