-- Ronald L. Graham, Professor in Computer Science and Engineering at the University of California, San Diego, former Mathematical Association of America president, former American Mathematical Society president, former Bell Labs Chief Scientist
-- Doneanne Soult, School Library Journal, Westampton Middle School, NJ
-- Erin Anderson, Booklist Online
I can hardly wait to try another lab. The Mobius strip lab looks fantastic. I expect Koch snowflakes to join the curve stitching on our tree. And I’m really intrigued by the graph theory. This is going to be a fantastic Christmas vacation.
So if you’re looking for the perfect gift for your young mad scientist, or you just want to get a kid interested in math, I highly recommend this book. Apparently, other readers agree. It’s currently Amazon’s #1 new release in Children’s General Study Aid Books. Order fast, and you can have it under your tree, too. [Full review.]
-- Dianna Sanchez, children's book author
I have 3 degrees in mathematics, taught math for more than a decade, was a teacher educator for two decades, and finished the last decade of my 45-year education career as a school administrator, and so I have read a LOT of math books. And I can tell you that this one is GREAT! [Full review.]
When a former colleague and I were researching what children believe math is, we were consistently dismayed to find out how amazingly limited kids' "definition" of math is. Beyond number facts and operations and perhaps a few two-dimensional geometric figures, the hundreds of students that we interviewed and surveyed were unwilling or unable to recognize or identify much of the world of mathematical concepts as being AT ALL mathematical! For example, when we showed students pictures of children creating geometric shapes with tangrams (like those in Chapter 6 of Rapoport and Yoder's Math Lab for Kids book), and asked if the children in the photo might be learning or doing any math at all, virtually all responded, "No, they're just playing." According to most students we interviewed in our research, something could NEVER be mathematics if it was FUN, or could, in any way, be considered "playing"!!! Those depressing research results tell us how important books like this are.
A FUNdamental belief of these authors (pun intended), is that math CAN BE and IS fun. But more importantly, this book will also help kids see that there are LOTS of different kinds of things that ARE mathematics and that "playing around" with objects and ideas IS mathematics. The activities in this book cut across a wide range of mathematical study (including fractals, graph theory, surfaces, space-filling, circuits, topology, logic, mapping...). The individual activities are thoughtfully sequenced and scaffolded so that pretty much ANY group of kids or parents (even those self-acknowledged "math haters" or "I can't do math" folks) can do the activities. The explanations and mathematical principles and background of what's happening in a given activity are brief but accurate and sufficient, AND, they give hints, answers, challenges, and alternate ways to approach an activity (another really important thing to learn about the world of mathematics). Unlike some other books, the materials you will need are easily accessible and inexpensive. The photos and figures are colorful, appealing, and helpful.
So - yes- buy this book!-- And, although it would be fine for you to just buy this book and have your kids have fun and play, PLEASE do me a favor and while they (and you) are learning and enjoying, keep reminding them that ALL of this FUN stuff IS MATH!
This book is an outstanding resource for classroom teachers and parents and will provide elementary and middle school students with a strong background in mathematics.
The book is organized in experience-based, problem solving math experiences that peak children's interest and support their learning as mathematicians. Using household objects and inexpensive materials (i.e. toothpicks, paper, scissors, string, gumdrops, and sidewalk chalk) children learn math concepts (including geometry, topology, logic, and proofs) through playing with math. The hands on, first hand puzzles provides children to opportunities to understand math concepts through repeated experiences. The book is organized in a series of math labs that walk kids through each activity with instructions and full color diagrams and photographs. Each lab builds from simple to complex, providing kids with many opportunities to explore the same concepts - through experiences blend math with games and art projects. Kids gain the understanding that real math problems take time to solve, while at the same time gaining confidence in their own abilities as mathematicians. [Full review.]
As veteran classroom teacher and teacher educator, I have observed the difference in children's grasp of math concepts when they have opportunities to play with tangrams, geometric shapes, and sorting sets (buttons, blocks, etc.). These experiences are essential in understanding the concepts behind algorithms - and it's refreshing to see a book that provides extended exposure to math without paper and pencil worksheets. By the end, when kids explore understandings of logic, reasoning and mathematical proofs, these abstract ideas are within children's reach because they build upon the concrete experiences throughout the book.
The book is meant for children to explore with some guidance, encouraging collaborative learning. For classrooms, there is a wealth of experiences (nine units and 37 math labs) for a math center or whole class math workshop across the school year. Mathematical concepts are introduced through hands-on experiences and discussed in a clear, concise manner. Reflection questions are posed in "think about it" inserts, "math meets" and "try this" sections provide suggestions for independent and group extensions on the math lab experiences.
Calling all homeschool mammas, this one is for you! This book is a wonderful resource that I really am excited about. It is a math lab book filled with just that, math labs! They are simple, straightforward, broken down in small pieces, and fun! That’s right, fun! [Full review.]
Of course, I’m a former teacher saying that and a bit of a nerd, but I really think these are math labs that many children will really enjoy.
Each lab in this book is fairly simple to execute and uses few supplies (most of which are common household items like toothpicks). When it comes to worksheets you may need the back of the book includes many that you can just remove or you can head to the website created for this book to print them out again and again. (Click here to check out the Math Lab for Kids Website.) Clever, huh? The labs focus on shapes and mathematical thinking and cover subjects such as tangrams, circuits, fractals and curves. Seriously a book worth checking out if you homeschool or if you want to supplement math learning at home for your child.
The activities are constructed to be largely independent, in approximately increasing order of difficulty, which makes great pedagogical sense. Each set of activities begins with a very hands-on approach to doing something, like building shapes or designing maps, and then develops toward generalization, just as mathematics itself (mostly) developed. The classic "Bridges of Konigsberg" problem, for example, begins with the city itself, develops into the abstract theory behind it (as drawings), and then loops back to the original problem, using the general case to solve the specific one, just as a mathematician does.
The chapter on tangrams can occupy an adult mind for hours and be as easy or difficult as one likes for kids. It and the toothpick chapter (modifying shapes built with toothpicks under particular rules), teach problem solving, patience, guess-and-check, and other essential mathematical skills. As the book points out, a lot of doing math amounts to attacking problems over and over from different angles: if kids learn to be interested in problems and to think about them in different ways, then higher math becomes accessible to them.
Kids (or adults) can make quite beautiful pieces by studying the chapter on curve stitching, another chapter which gets at important mathematical ideas in a purely graphical way. An ambitious kid or interested adult would almost certainly apply the ideas of Calculus to the graphs in order to try to understand better why the assertions of the book are true. At the end of the book, there are two proofs given, one by contradiction and one by induction. By that point, the book has built up to a little bit of algebra, and a kid should be able to do both proofs, perhaps helping to make proofs more normal, even fun, in their eyes, instead of the terrifying monster that proofs are often thought to be.
Through a sequence of hands-on activities, it takes various topics in mathematics and makes them both accessible and fun for young children, without compromising content. Activities are drawn from a broad swath of mathematics, including geometry, topology, map coloring, curve stitching, fractals, tangrams, graph theory, and various games. Admittedly, the topics chosen are ones which lend themselves well to visual representation -- so not every branch of mathematics is represented, but this is hardly a fault of the book, since there are many areas (algebra and number theory, for example) which are not as accessible to students in this age range.
Children (with adult supervision understood) are guided through each activity by instructions in straightforward language, introducing mathematical terms, "Math Facts", and historical details along the way. Some of the later activities in each section are more loosely phrased, thereby encouraging experimentation and creative thought. (e.g. Can you figure out how to remove two sticks from this picture to form three squares?) In the last section of the book, the author introduces the ideas of proof by contradiction and proof by induction, presenting the methods accurately, but without scaring kids or snowing them with lots of formalism or mathematical notation.
I am very much looking forward to introducing my own children to this beautiful, carefully written book!
-- Kathie Y, Professor of Mathematics, emeritus, Pierce College
-- Cami Jones, math tutor
-- Sonya Ellingboe, Highlands Ranch Herald
If you are looking to build your child’s math literacy or undertake some fun, engaging math activities at home, I would recommend getting Math Lab for Kids. This book is not about doing sheets of math problems. Instead, children learn about math by drawing and building shapes, solving puzzles and playing math games.
As the parent who was directing the activities, I found the book to be instructive and easy to follow. I also thought the book took a playful approach to the math projects which my daughter appreciated. If you have a reluctant math student, I think this book is a perfect way to get them to work through math-related projects in a low-key and enjoyable way. The authors of the book say “Mathematicians play” and I agree that the projects in this book are probably different than the math students do in school. Here, children can think like a mathematician and experiment and see what happens. [Full review.]
Includes topics in three-dimensional geometry, conic sections, topology, game theory, and graph theory.
-- Dean Chung, Math Ph.D., parent