More Math! Resources: Kids & Families

For those of you who can't wait until the next National Math Festival, we invite you to explore the wonder and beauty of math with these puzzles, games, books, videos, and other mathy treats for kids and families. Have a suggestion for us? Share with @natmathfestival on Twitter or send to mathfestival@msri.org. New resources are added each month!

(New in December 2017: items that may be available for purchase as gifts through various retailers are marked with a "ūüéĀ" gift icon. )

Parent & Child Activities

Natural Math Activity Sparks
Natural Math has made these one-page activity guides for parents and kids to try activities that give insight into math concepts.

  • How You Slice It:¬†Use your X-Ray vision on different patterns to see how a whole is made of different parts. From this viewpoint you can see how different building blocks lead to different outcomes. Is one slicing technique simpler than others? More fair? More predictable? More fun? Let‚Äôs find out.
  • Make Shapes with Sticks: Make models using integration, and learn to see flat 2D shapes as made from straight 1D lines. You can use craft sticks, matchsticks, toothpicks, or strips of paper to make your shapes. Can every shape be made from sticks? Are there hidden techniques to make complex shapes from simple lines?
  • What would a 3D Printer Do?¬†Choose any object and ask: How would a 3D printer build it? How would it grow in nature? How would you make it with crafts? We can train our skills in thinking with analogies. In music, we can play the same song in different styles (rock, jazz, classical, rap). Calculus lets us “remix” an object by building it different ways.
  • Mosaics: 2D to 2D: ¬†Let’s learn how to¬†approximate curves with straight lines, and try to fill and measure complex shapes. You can use anything that is flat enough: craft foam, construction paper, sticky notes, tiles, fusible beads, or LEGO bricks. How can small pieces come together to show a larger image? Do grids help or hurt your project? Can you make a circle out of squares? Let‚Äôs find out.

Bedtime Math
From how many teeth there are in the world to how long it would take an army of ants to carry you across the country, this free website and app gives kids something fun and mathy to think and talk about with their families every night before bed. (Lots of printable games and activities, too!)

Games and Activities to Promote Early Math Learning
Parents can give pre-K children a boost in learning mathematics by noticing, exploring and talking about math during everyday activities at home or out and about. Discussing and exploring mathematics with children requires no special resources – here are 11 easy ways you can make math part of your everyday routine!

How to Make Tessellations
This easy guide for elementary school students teaches how to design your own tessellation patterns using paper, scissors, and tape. What can you create?

Make your own Snowflakes (PDF)
Snowflakes are fun decorations this time of year. Many people like to make their own and display them on doors and in windows to celebrate winter. Snowflakes are both delicate and beautiful. Each real snowflake is a uniquely fashioned ice crystal with a symmetry that reflects the symmetry of water molecules. This six-fold symmetry is shared by all snowflakes and is easy to replicate by folding paper. This template will let you make your own paper snowflakes to observe symmetry and share your creation.

NEW! Musings of a Mathematical Mom
Alexandra Fradkin blogs about the educational adventures she has with her daughters and her students at school and in a math enrichment program for kids aged 4-10. She enjoys thinking about presenting mathematical concepts to young children in exciting and engaging ways. In this blog, Fradkin shares many activities, resources, and ideas for engaging kids in math-based play and discussion.

Sesame Street Math is Everywhere
Look around: Exciting math opportunities abound! Sesame Street Math Is Everywhere aims to help parents, caregivers, and educators help young children explore and understand math in the everyday world by focusing on the broad thinking and reasoning skills required to master mathematics.

The Connectory
Spark your child’s curiosity: connect to a STEM opportunity for your child. The Connectory is a free portal that helps parents and other caregivers find local STEM education opportunities for kids in their lives.

Games & Puzzles

Games at PBS Kids
You can pair these online games with math activities for early childhood.

  • Animal Lost and Found:¬†Help owners find their lost pets! Count eyes, ears and other body parts in this match game for preschool and kindergarten.
  • Building Sandcastles:¬†Ready to play in the sand and practicing learning shapes for preschoolers and kindergartners? Match the shapes of wet sand with their outlines to build different sandcastles.
  • Let’s Tessellate:¬†Choose a shape and a color and then tessellate! See your shape repeat again and again to make a beautiful pattern in this fun tessellation math game.
  • Pattern Matcher:¬†In these fun pattern games for kindergarten and preschool, silly pictures make patterns that repeat. Can you find the patterns that repeat the same way?
  • Time to Move:¬†Help move these fish to their new homes with this measurement game for kids! Which fish move where? Catch and measure each fish to find out.

Gracie and Friends Early Math Apps
2017 Festival presenter First 8 Studios‚ĄĘ at WGBH creates free¬†Gracie and Friends¬†series of mobile¬†apps with titles like¬†Birthday Caf√©,¬†Lemonade Stand, and¬†Jungle Gym. Kids can¬†explore games that teach two key concepts for early math learning: subitizing (learning to “see how many” objects¬†without counting each one), and equipartitioning (learning how to divide objects into equal pieces).

ūüéĀ¬†NEW! Math for Love Games
You may have tried these games with Math for Love at the 2017 National Math Festival, but you can enjoy the fun at home, too!

  • Tiny Polka Dot: This colorful card deck features 16 games that playfully teach math to young children, from counting and early numeracy to arithmetic and logic. The game was designed with 3- to 8-year-olds in mind, but some of the puzzles and more advanced games can be played with older kids too, including teenagers or even adults. You can also create new games using the cards!
  • Prime Climb: This colorful, mathematical board game was designed for 2 to 4 players. Roll the dice and add, subtract, multiply and divide your way to the center of the board, picking up prime cards and bumping your opponents back to start as you go. The first to land both pawns on 101 wins the game. Inspire deeper mathematical understanding while mastering arithmetic!

ūüéĀ¬†ThinkFun Games
National Math Festival program collaborator ThinkFun specializes in games that offer both fun and STEM development to engage kids and families in learning 21st century thinking skills and solving puzzles. Check out these games that were a hit with visitors at the 2017 Festival!

  • Rush Hour:¬†In Rush Hour, a sliding block logic game, you have to battle the gridlock as you slide the blocking vehicles out of the way for the red car to exit. This perennial favorite¬†board game is also available to play for free online or as a mobile app.
  • Chocolate Fix: This deductive logic game for ages 8+¬†gives¬†clues that will help you to fill the tray with all nine chocolate pieces in their correct positions. Similar to Sudoku, you must examine all clues on the challenge card before making a move. You can also play online for free.
  • Balance Beans: This bean-filled logic game is a fun way to introduce young learners to elementary algebra, via a game of card-based challenges using beans balanced on a seesaw. When you balance the Seesaw, you are actually balancing an equation! As the challenges get harder, you‚Äôll rely less on trial and error ‚Äď and more on math and reasoning skills.
  • ShapeOmetry:¬†ShapeOmetry aims to develop spatial, abstract and quantitative reasoning skills. To solve the puzzle challenges, stack green pieces on top of blue pieces, or vice versa, to create identical shapes. Through hands-on play, players build key skills, strategies and mathematical understandings, such as part-to-whole relationships.
  • Math Dice:¬†Math Dice Jr. and Math Dice¬†are¬†an easy-to-learn, skill based game where players use dice rolls to form math equations to get as close to a target number as possible. It can be played competitively or cooperatively, as well as¬†online!

Books & Videos

ūüéĀ¬†Mathical: Books for Kids from Tots to Teens
The Mathical Book Prize selects fiction and nonfiction stories for kids of all ages that make math visible in the world. From picture books to graphic novels, chapter books, and teen thrillers, there’s a story for everyone!¬†Winners¬†are selected by a nationwide committee of mathematicians, educators, librarians, and authors. You can view all past Mathical winners at the website.

The 2017 Mathical Prize winners (published in 2016) are:

Pre-K:¬†ONE Very Big Bear, by Alice Bri√®re-Haquet (author) and Olivier Philipponneau and Rapha√ęle Enjary (illustrators)
Grades K-2: Absolutely One Thing: Featuring Charlie and Lola, by Lauren Child
Grades 3-5: Which One Doesn’t Belong? A Shapes Book, by Christopher Danielson
Grades 6-8: Mind-Boggling Numbers, by Michael J. Rosen (author) and Julia Patton (illustrator)
Grades 9-12: Genius: The Game, by Leopoldo Gout

The 2017 Mathical Honor books (published prior to 2016) are:

A Mousy Mess, by Laura Driscoll (author) and Deborah Melmon (illustrator)
Shapes, Reshape! A Minibombo Book, by Silvia Borando
Ruby Redfort: Feel the Fear, by Lauren Child
Meanwhile, by Jason Shiga

ūüéĀ¬†Bedtime Math books
In the spirit of making math as beloved as the bedtime story, Bedtime Math founder and 2017 National Math Festival presenter Laura Overdeck’s Bedtime Math books pair wacky math problems with colorful illustrations for more family reading and conversation.

NEW! How to Find Good Math Storybooks and Read Them with Your Children 
Early childhood mathematics researcher Dr. Herbert Ginsburg (Columbia University) presented this talk at the 2017 National Math Festival to share research and activities for parents and educators who want to engage children in reading math storybooks. You can find the video here, as well as a guide to recognizing well-written stories with accurate math content!

NEW! Math Book Magic
Kelly Darke, a writer, teacher, mother, lover of mathematics, writes this blog about math picture books that she explores with her own children, family friends, and students, as well as thoughtful commentary for teachers, parents, and the mathematically curious. Readers are invited share back their own math book magic experiences!

ūüéĀ¬†NEW! Natural Math books
2017 Festival presenter Natural Math offers several books that engage kids in math exploration, including Moebius Noodles, Socks Are Like Pants, Cats Are Like Dogs, and Funville Adventures. On the site you can find sample chapters, video trailers, and author stories.