Sunday, September 5, 2010

Math Websites

The internet is a deep well of math resources for both kids and parents. I'm not just talking about the kind of math resources you print off and give your kids as worksheets. There's a great deal of that sort of thing available, but I won't be listing it here. No, I'm talking about sites your kids can play with to explore mathematical concepts. And I'm talking about sites that will help you, as a parent, think beyond your own text-book based math experience when you were in school and explore other ways to support your children's math learning. I've listed a few sites that I know of that people enjoy accessing. If you know of others, please please list them in the comments. Your contributions are greatly appreciated.

For Kids

Math Playground is a site chock full of fun-friendly math games, word problems, logic puzzles, and math videos. It caters to the K to 6 crowd (5 to 12 years old). From Common Sense Media:
At mathplayground.com, simple to complex math problems are cleverly disguised as puzzles, kid-focused word problems, and concepts illustrated with graphics. Not all of the content is in game format however -- drill and practice computations are plentiful, and video tutorials walk kids through math problems with voice-over and whiteboard-type demonstrations. Kids can send in a math problem they'd like to see in a video with just their name (first name and last initial), age, state, and a description of the problem. Timed flashcards and a template for making printable worksheets can also be found on the site.

Cool Math is a collection of websites that provides math activities for kids of all ages. The original site is for kids aged 13 and up (or for kids who have mastered fractions and have all their ducks in a row pre-algebra wise. For younger kids, the Cool Math 4 Kids provides different math activities to explore. There's also a site with just the fun stuff, Cool Math Games. From Common Sense Media:
Since 1997, math teacher Karen Lyn Davis has run this award-winning site to spark kids' interest in all things math. The online math dictionary and calculators alone are enough to teach most basic math concepts, including algebra and geometry. In addition to the main sections for math practice, games, a math dictionary, and lesson help, there are also sections for parents (how to help with math homework: crying isn't a good sign) and teachers (tricks for getting kids motivated in the classroom). It also links to a companion site for younger kids (coolmath4kids.com) and other teen-related sites (totallystressedout.com and FinanceFreak.com).

Nick's Mathematical Puzzles is definitely for kids who have a firm grasp on higher mathethematics. From the site:
The math puzzles presented here are selected for the deceptive simplicity of their statement, or the elegance of their solution.  They range over geometry, probability, number theory, algebra, calculus, trigonometry, and logic.  All require a certain ingenuity, but usually only pre-college math.  Some puzzles are original.
Explaining how an answer is arrived at is more important than the answer itself.  To this end, hints, answers, and fully worked solutions are provided, together with links to related mathematical topics.  Further references are provided with many of the solutions.  The puzzles are intended to be fun, with an educational element.
Each puzzle is assigned a level of difficulty of between one and four stars, with four being the most difficult.  Clearly this is to some extent subjective, but it may be useful as a rough guide.

For Parents

The site that has informed my math-at-home journey the most is Julie Brennan's Living Math website. Here's what she has to say about math learning:
Insisting a child must be taught traditional, scope-and-sequence arithmetic to learn mathematics is like saying one must learn classical notes and scales before one can learn music. You might get there, but you miss out on the inspiration of beautiful music created by the masters along the way. We need not master all the "basics" before being able to experience the appreciation that carries us through the hard work of learning. Think of applying living math principles as developing a "mathematical ear" while working toward the mastery of basic theory.
On the site, she has articles, reader lists of math-related literature, learning ideas, reviews, games, lesson plans, math programs and math sites. You can take what you want from this site, depending on your learn at home philosophy. At our house, we don't worry about lesson plans, but we do love the book lists. In fact, over the years I have built a solid math library in our home of non-textbook books that deal with math learning and math concepts and many of the titles I've learned about through Julie's site.

Julie also has a number of fantastic links for parents and kids to explore. Such as...

Investigating Patterns: Symmetry and Tessellations is an excellent site out of Camosun College that has lots of different symmetry ideas (Pysanky, quilting, paper dolls, snowflakes) and links. You can share these ideas and activities with your kids!