Do you read for fun? Many people do. I love reading a good mystery novel and my husband enjoys reading historical non-fiction. These days, I spend my time reading Harry Potter and other children’s books to my kids.
When is the last time you did math for fun? When, do you think, is the last time your students did math for fun?
Last month, I wrote about Getting Students to Believe They Can Be Math People. We often hear people say “I’m not a math person,” but helping students to believe that they have the ability to change their intelligence is a powerful way to get them to do better in math. With hard work, students can develop math confidence that can lead them to get better grades and achieve math success.
Another way to help students believe they can be math people is to get students to do more math. Miles Kimball, Professor of Economics at the University of Michigan, wrote a great article for Quartz on How to Turn Every Child into a “Math Person.” He discusses the “love it and learn it hypothesis” – that one of the best ways to get better at math is to act like someone who loves math and actually do more math. And as Annie Murphy Paul mentions in How Do You Spark a Love of Math in Kids? finding ways to make math more interesting and fun, in addition to showing how math can be useful, are important ways to make this happen. Doing math for fun is a great way to apply logic, think critically, problem-solve, and persevere – all traits that are valuable not just in the classroom, but also in the workplace and in life as well.
I still remember learning how to play craps in my high school math class. We all gathered around to learn the game, taking turns playing. It was both fun and practical – I was going to learn to play craps so I can win big in Vegas! I recall how much the other students and I looked forward to this small break, eager to learn and to win. We were all engaged, learning and doing math in a fun way.
What do you do to encourage your students to do more math? Below are some resources to incorporate fun into math and make it more applicable, both in and outside of the classroom for you and your students. We hope you enjoy!
- Did You Solve It? Alex Bellos’s Monday puzzle, The Guardian. Alex Bellos posts puzzles every two weeks
- Acing Math (One Deck at a Time!), The Positive Engagement Project. Lots of great card games to play with your students
- Would You Rather, a blog that helps make math applicable to real life, for example asking which plan you would choose when buying a new cell phone
- Varsity Math, Wall Street Journal Puzzles. Coach Newton from the National Museum of Mathematics posts math puzzles on WSJ weekly. Answers are posted the following week.
- Algebra Sequence by ilovemath.org. If you or your students love the board game Sequence, this could be a great way to get your students engaged.
- Visualpatterns.org, a site to identify the equations in geometrical patterns.
- High School Math Activities by education.com. Creative activities to practice high school math skills, ranging from solving toothpick puzzles to using algebra to find the best-priced pizza.
- Logic Puzzles. This site has logic puzzles and the user can select the grid size and level of difficulty.
- BrainDen. This site has puzzles, riddles, and brain teasers.
- Cool Math Games by FunMaths. Links to practice math in fun and relaxed way.
- Pinterest is also a great resource to find fun math activities.
What fun math activities have you done with your students? Please share them with us on Twitter @Knowre.