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Mon Jan 21, 2013, 10:08 AM

books on math for grade school children

I wasn't sure whether to post this question here, or in Parenting, or somewhere else. I decided here, since the audience seemed the most likely to have good leads.

Anyway: my daughter keeps telling us she "hates math" and "isn't good at math." This makes me want to gouge my eyes out, because (a) it isn't true (she seems to score well above average in math) and (b) since she is in 3rd grade, most of the "math" she is learning is really arithmetic.

Arithmetic is obviously crucial, but it worries me because math doesn't really start to get interesting until you get to geometry and algebra. I'm worried that by that time she'll have solidified this "I don't like math" or even worse "girls don't like math" horseshit. I'm her father, and if I told her the sky was blue, she'd argue that it was chartreuse. Or mauve. So me just trying to explain these things to her doesn't work very well.

My real question: does anybody know of good books on math for grade schoolers. By that I mean, books that introduce cool patterns, somehow convey the beauty of numbers. Ideally, without needing to know algebra. Does this limit it to geometry? Not sure I know how to really explain what I'm looking for, but hopefully you get the idea.

It may be that in the end, she just won't be especially interested in math. Not everybody is. But it would be damn sad if she reached that conclusion prematurely. I'd like to try and prevent that.

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Reply books on math for grade school children (Original post)
phantom power Jan 2013 OP
knitter4democracy Jan 2013 #1
TM99 Jan 2013 #2
Glassunion Jan 2013 #3
nenagh Jan 2013 #4
phantom power Jan 2013 #6
pokerfan Jan 2013 #5
Vincardog Jan 2013 #7
tridim Jan 2013 #8
struggle4progress Jan 2013 #9
phantom power Feb 2013 #10
littlemissmartypants Feb 2013 #11

Response to phantom power (Original post)

Mon Jan 21, 2013, 10:11 AM

1. The education group can help.

There are a few elementary and math teachers there.

Part of the problem might be the way she's being taught math. My daughter had the same reaction to the Chicago Method but is doing better now. My son thinks it's boring. Anyway, a popular method to really help her nail her skills is the Saxon series, but for the beauty of numbers, that I would ask a math teacher about. They deal with that more.

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Response to phantom power (Original post)

Mon Jan 21, 2013, 10:45 AM

2. Some Recommendations

I love math. My sister does not. Her son is much like your daughter in that he is good at math but because he hears his mother constantly say she does not like it and is not good at it, he, therefore, is not either.

I have recommended the following to her to augment his studies, and they seem to enjoy them.

The first is Chalkdust - http://www.chalkdust.com/. It is very structured and is broken down by both grade and type of maths being learned. The second is Math-U-See - http://www.mathusee.com/. It is also very structured and complete, however, you will need to check the level to see which one would be appropriate for her to start with at her age and current level. It might be either Alpha or Beta though you can certainly go back and start with the Primer.

If you can spark that interest now, once she is a bit older, I highly recommend Danica McKellar. Many know her only as the actress who played Winnie on the Wonder Years, but she also holds a math degree from UCLA and is an advocate for math education for young women. I have had the pleasure of meeting her a few times, and she is a smart and passionate young woman. Here is her site: http://www.mathdoesntsuck.com/

Good luck.

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Response to phantom power (Original post)

Mon Jan 21, 2013, 10:48 AM

3. Keep your eye out for "The Animation of Mathematics"

It is soon to be published. The author is Dr. Joseph Phillips.

I was a student of his many moons ago and he was the only professor who has ever been able to excite me about math. Ever.

From my understanding, this text book is aimed at the grade school level. I have been able to teach my 6 year old nephew bits and pieces of algebra by using the Dr.'s methods. He can break down the most difficult of problems right back to basic math.

To this day I can reduce ridiculous fractions in a blink.

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Response to phantom power (Original post)

Mon Jan 21, 2013, 11:36 AM

4. OK, from a curious Mother...is she being taught something like fractions in grade 3?

My son learned the times tables etc about grade 3.. The teacher (Ontario) had the children stand beside their desks and recite the times tables starting with x1, x2 etc..

If the child could recite the x table within a certain period of time..they moved on to the next higher #.. Dire for kids who were shy. My son was stressed out..thought this math was just too difficult..

One night when he had been asleep for 20 min or so, I whispered in his sleeping ear...You will really like math the thing is, once you have learned the numbers, the answers never change..so it's easy... . Thank God he didn't wake up..

He flew along after that..but I probably, like my Dad did, I coached him at home..on the basics..in a non threatening way.

My Dad had a great manner when teaching..sitting down to help with my Physics homework, he always said the same thing: 'Lets keep this simple'. There was no recrimination..it was like an adventure because he always related it to something concrete..that I could visualize.. ( the mechanical Engineer method).

He was very helpful, caring and practical and positive.. Helping with homework..

Lastly.. My son was slow to learn reading..which did not surprise me given the method: white sheets of paper with black printing.. Based on similar vowel sounds...an absolute hodge podge of meaningless words with no connection but the vowel..

But, if a child now, with testing, is weak in reading..they will have trouble reading math 'problem' questions..

Re my son, he loved computer games and computer game magazines made that easier...so I bought them for him..and he taught himself to read faster in order to get hints about playing Nintendo games...

Wonder who your daughter is hearing she is bad at math from...may be school friends..

Anyway..you might talk to her teacher... For good ideas...

Lastly, my Dad never hassled over test results...but my Mother was a demon on the subject..very stressful..

I don't know if that helps at all... but my son did catch on to math, enjoyed it, learned calculus and graduated a computer engineer...

In grade three..he needed encouragement..plenty of it.. and support...

( I saw a Florida grade 3 math exam..which had fractions etc..and I thought it was very difficult... I'd learn as much as possible about what she is learning. .maybe your help for her can start or end with a treat.. Sorry I'm quite an old Mother, just giving hints from long ago)


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Response to nenagh (Reply #4)

Mon Jan 21, 2013, 12:07 PM

6. She's learning fractions, multiplication tables, word problems

She does just fine with them, and I don't have any concerns that she isn't learning that stuff. They don't really keep track of grades at this point, but she generally scores 90-100% on the stuff she brings home. I don't think I've ever seen her score lower than 80%.

It's just all the complaining and "I'm not good at math" stuff. I'm about 99% sure she gets it from other students. She sure as hell doesn't hear it from us Repeat that kind of negative stereotyping often enough, and it becomes true

Part of my problem is, she's just very strong willed. Contrary. Bloody-minded, really. Makes it unbelievably hard to try and explain that she's wrong about something. I wear special mittens to keep me from gouging out my eyes.

Reading and writing aren't a problem for her. She got classified as gifted in language arts. She reads at what I'd consider a high school level, at least in the mechanical aspects. It really, really upsets her to be wrong. I think maybe part of what's up with math is, when you are wrong, you're wrong. There's a little more room for subjectivity in language arts.

"I'm gifted at language arts, but I wasn't gifted at math"

"That was just a test, kiddo, it doesn't mean you aren't good at math, or that you don't like it"

"Well maybe you should go back to school, because you don't know what I'm talking about"

Please kill me.

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Response to phantom power (Original post)

Mon Jan 21, 2013, 11:53 AM

5. Several

Martin Gardner wrote the Mathematical Games column in Scientific American from 1956 to 1981 and published many books on math, including several especially for children.

Vi Hart's videos on Youtube.

Khan Academy


Better Explained

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Response to phantom power (Original post)

Mon Jan 21, 2013, 05:44 PM

7. Try to find the math in what interests her. Instead of forcing the math is good meme

show her where math in beautiful in what interests her.
Don't reinforce her opinion about "not being good at math"
but show her how it is math is loves in her interests.

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Response to phantom power (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 09:17 AM

8. Not a book, but the most interesting teacher on the planet, Vi Hart...


I would have been a different person had Vi been around when I was in school.

Mandelbrot's books also got me excited about math, but I was already in college and not a math major.

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Response to phantom power (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 01:52 PM

10. thanks to everybody for their suggestions

I did play a couple Vi Hart youtube shorts on apple TV (which is kind of a fun way to show them).

My daughter liked the circle game one, and then announced that next time she was bored in math class she would draw pictures like Vi. Not exactly the message I was aiming for

But, she liked it

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Response to phantom power (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 04:40 PM

11. Have you tried

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