Here in the southern hemisphere, all of the school-aged kids are celebrating the beginning of summer break. Down here, December, January, and February are months meant for fun in the sun. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to prevent my son from experiencing the infamous summer brain drain that happens when kids are out of school on vacation.
Ok, so my oldest child is in kindergarten, and school isn’t—and shouldn’t be—too academically intense for him just yet, but he has learned to read, and he really likes math. I’m a high school math teacher, so this makes me happy. Building on his fondness of math, this summer we’ll be exploring some of the concepts introduced in Moebius Noodles, a book written to help parents create rich environments for their children to experience, learn, and enjoy math through play.
Moebius Noodles was written by Yelena McManaman and Dr. Maria Droujkova (and illustrated by Ever Salazar). Our friends at GeekMom did a wonderful interview with the authors back in 2014. Mobieus Noodles is a product of Natural Math, a website as well as a community of families and educators started by Droujkova. The book is broken up into four sections: symmetry, numbers, functions, and grids. Each section has four to five activities with suggestions about how to make each one accessible to a specific age group (babies, toddlers, or big kids). My goal is to work through the four sections with both my 5-year-old and my 11-month-old. After completing each section, I’ll share my thoughts, successes, and challenges here on GeekDad.
On a daily basis, I see how some of my students struggle with math because they’re just trying to memorize and regurgitate procedures and formulas without really trying to understand what they’re doing or why they’re doing it. Developing a healthy curiosity and fearlessness about math at an early age can help prevent this. In fact, many math topics that we often think are only for geniuses and brainiacs can be made accessible to children at a very young age. This is one of the ideas promoted by Natural Math, and it is something I plan to explore with my own children.
Dr. Droujkova speaks about Natural Math at SparkCON.
One amazing thing to note is that Moebius Noodles is actually licensed under Creative Commons (Dr. Droujkova was recently interviewed by them). It is available in paperback or as an ebook (Kindle and ePub), and the PDF is available for whatever price you decide to pay. You can find more information about Moebius Noodles and Natural Math by visiting their website.