Do not keep children to their studies by compulsion but by play. – Plato
Not everything can be learned in an atmosphere of play, but the more often we can bring effective play to our classrooms, the better! Students love it when they think they are getting away with something by playing games instead of doing “real” math. What they don’t realise is just how much mathematical thinking they are developing by playing these games. And of course, many of the analytical skills we develop by solving puzzles are useful in other parts of our lives.
Here is a general description of a technique I’ve found highly effective for introducing most of the puzzles on this site.
For detailed discussions of a number of games that have been very successful in many classrooms, visit the Saskatchewan Mathematics Teachers’ journal, The Variable :
- In the June 2016 issue, I describe domino puzzles and the game of Rectangles.
- In the August 2016 issue, Hidato and variations on Latin squares using colour and shape are highlighted.
- In the November 2016 issue you will find an in-depth description of how I introduce the game of Set to students of all ages, along with several variations that have proven popular.
- In the March/April 2017 issue, I describe the difference triangle, which is a puzzle that can easily be used to fill a spare 10 minutes for individuals or the whole class.
There is a less-detailed discussion about a bigger selection of games in volume 18 of Pi in the Sky (page 21), published by the Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences.
Classroom visits: If you are a teacher or principal in or near the Kootenay region of British Columbia and are interested in having me come to your school to share some mathematical games with your students, please contact me .
Science World‘s program, Scientists and Innovators in the School, covers my expenses for classroom visits, which are absolutely free for the school.
Professional development workshops: The newly-revised mathematics curriculum in BC may have some teachers scrambling for classroom material. My favourite workshops include:
- the use of games in developing mathematical habits of mind
- building geometric sense through origami
- problem-solving using geometrical constructions (compass and straightedge)
- the use of fraction bars to solve story problems in any grade.
I’ll happily tailor a workshop for your group. Contact me to find out more.