## MathNook

A blog about MathNook, math, math games, and more.

### Make Math More Fun – Mathnook Tutorial Videos

December18

Mathnook has long been the leader in assisting students in learning to love mathematics.  They have created a wonderful website with a plethora of online video games that make math more fun for young minds to explore.  These games run the gamut from basic computations and measurements to more elaborate skills such as geometry and algebra.  But what if you need help with the games and skills themselves?

Mathnook has a Youtube channel which can be found at http://www.youtube.com/user/mathnook.  This channel includes tutorials for almost every game on the website which can help your child if they need help with a specific game.  For instance, a game like Math Balloons Decimals Game features a nine minute long instructional video which shows all of the features and options on the game, the end goal of the game, and how to perform the mathematical concept that is at the core of this particular game, in this case, decimals.  No matter what skill level your child is, he or she can be successful with these math games            When you visit Mathnook, you will find a series of fun video games that are designed to cover a variety of topics that are taught in the school system throughout the year.  Just the overall topics, which are organized at the top of the screen, include the following skills:
• Algebra
• Comparison
• Coordinate Grid
• Counting
• Decimal
• Division
• Estimation
• Even/Odd Numbers
• Factors
• Fractions
• Geometry
• Integers
• Math Vocabulary
• Measurements
• Money
• Multiplication
• Number Order
• Order of Operation
• Patterns
• Place value
• Prime/Composite Numbers
• Rounding
• Sequence
• Subtraction
• Time

These skills represent the bulk of what a student is expected to learn in mathematics from pre-K all the way up to early high school.  And no one can deny the importance of mathematics in the current curriculum.  With a greater emphasis being placed on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) courses, students are having even more stress put on them to excel in these courses.  Many of the higher paying jobs of the future will require a background in one or more of these fields.  That is why it is important to give your child a leg up now while they are still at the impressionable state.  Since math skills build on each other, learning and mastering each one is of vital importance and these tutorial videos and games are a great way to do this while still keeping the learning process fun and informative.

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### MathNook.com Giving Away \$200 To Lucky School

December10

For quite some time now, Mathnook.com has been a leader in providing free online math games for students to help enhance and support their mathematics education.  Now, the popular website is introducing a contest to promote customer appreciation.  Parents and teachers are encouraged to log-in and enter their school for a chance to win a \$200 Amazon gift card.  This contest will run through January with one deserving school being selected as the winner.

The contest is easy to enter.  Simply log-in to Facebook and visit Mathnook’s Facebook page.  Like the page and then fill in the information for your school (or your child’s school) to be entered to win the gift card.  It’s that simple.  The winner will be chosen at random and announced in mid-January.  With the money won, teachers can help supplement their dwindling budgets by purchasing whatever they need for the classroom, be it supplies, books, or reproducibles.

Mathnook.com was founded several years ago by the husband and wife team of Jan and Tommy Hall.  They combined their experience in education and computer programming to put together this popular website which has become a full-time project for both of them.  It features video games that cover a variety of skills and standards in mathematics from basic level work like counting and measurements to more advanced work like algebra and geometry.  By creating video games that help students master these skills, the Halls have helped both students who are struggling to improve their grades in math and teachers who are looking for new ideas to help in the classroom.  Teachers are encouraged to use this site to help students who are struggling, to reinforce those who are meeting the standards, or to offer advanced work and differentiation for those students who are advancing beyond their peers.  And, besides being a great educational tool, Mathnook emphasizes that math can be fun by providing engaging games that help to make kids see the fun side of what many unfortunately have written off as a boring subject.

So if you are a parent or teacher who is already familiar with Mathnook, then you know how great a program it is.  If not, be sure to check it out and help your child or students with their math work and skills.  Either way, stop by the Mathnook Facebook page and be sure to sign up for the contest giveaway so that you can get a shot at a \$200 gift card to Amazon for your deserving school.

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### How To Use Teaching Moments Your Children Will Love

November26

As any educator will tell you, not all learning takes place inside the four walls of a classroom.  In fact, many of the best lessons you can teach your child take place at home, even when it comes to “hard” subjects such as mathematics.  All you have to do is look for the teachable moments in your child’s day-to-day life that make it easier for you to work in math concepts that will reinforce what your child is already learning.  Once you learn a couple of these yourself, you will see that math is really all around you and that the opportunities to use everyday activities to teach math will help inspire both your child and yourself.

• Play a game—Math isn’t something that you have to take ultra-seriously, especially at an early age.  One of the best learning experiences that can help teach math to young children is with games.  Board games require children to roll dice and count out steps on a board.  This is all about basic number and counting skills.  Even games as simple as Candyland and Chutes and Ladders can be used to teach these skills.  For more advanced children, Monopoly is a great way to teach money skills as players have to add and subtract money from their accounts.  Steer clear of the newer automated/computerized versions that do the counting for you as these keep children from learning these skills.  Also, for advanced students, consider games such as Clue or Chess.  Although you may not see the mathematical skills inherent in the game, they teach logical thinking which will go a long way in all fields of study.
• Use math songs and stories—Many children’s stories also teach basic number theories with popular choices being “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” or “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”  Another avenue would be to sing counting songs such as “Ten Little Monkeys Jumping On the Bed” or “The Twelve Days of Christmas” which help children learn their numbers in a fun way.
• Cook up some math—The kitchen is a great place to learn math as it provides a place to learn about time duration, temperature settings, and measurements.  Once your child is used to helping you in the kitchen, get them to help you adjust recipes by calculating how to adjust a recipe that serves for if you need it to feed two or eight.  This is a great way to teach children about calculations and proportions and it serves to help get them involved in learning a practical skill that will benefit them throughout their lifetime.
• Teach money management—One of the best ways to make a child feel like a “big kid” is to give them a sense of having their own money.  Pay them an allowance for their chores, but then let them spend this money when they go to the store.  Have them tell you how much an item costs, if they have enough to pay for it, and how much change they should expect back.  These simple calculations, along with the idea of learning to do math in your head, will be invaluable to them in the future and it gives them a sense of being grown-up.

If you want your child to succeed early on in math, these are some of the best ways to give them “teachable moments” that they will love.  These moments will slip math past them so that they are learning without realizing it and will show them that math is really something that they use every single day.

IMAGE CREDIT: Image courtesy of Flickr.

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### 5 Factors that Could Affect Your Child’s Math Skills

November19

Contrary to popular opinion, no one is born a math genius.  Although some people definitely seem to have a predilection for math and science or for humanities, it is something that has to be cultivated and developed.  If your child is doing well at math, then chances are there were factors that led to this.  And if you are looking to have an impact on your child’s abilities, then it is probably a great starting point to take an objective look at these five factors.

• Being “Math Positive”— One of the biggest factors in a child’s math success is his or her parent’s attitude toward math.  Parents should do everything that they can to be as positive about mathematics as they can.  Too often, parents who struggled with math will make comments putting the subject down or implying that it is “too hard” which has a negative impact on the child.   Instead, be positive when talking about math and encourage your child as much as possible.
• Finding Math Alternatives— One of the greatest ways to promote math in your child’s life is to find alternative ways to work math into his or her life.  Let them play math related video games that can promote math skills in a new and exciting way.  Let them into the kitchen where basic math skills such as measurements are reinforced in a real world setting.  Play board games that can help to teach basic skills such as counting and numbers.  These are all alternatives to the old tried-and-true method of learning math with paper and pencil.
• Modeling Math Skills— Another way that parents can help to promote math skills is by modeling it in your daily life.  Let your child see you working on math in the real world with things like balancing a checking account or doing your taxes.  It doesn’t have to be something incredibly complicated, but it can show them that you use math as well.  Also, show them your interest in math by working problems with them.  Follow along with the curriculum and refresh your own math skills along with your child.
• Having Open Dialogue With Teachers—Unfortunately, many parents only contact a teacher when there is a problem.  But the best way to help your child is to be proactive and let them know you care.  These conferences can give you expert advice on how to help your child specifically, what areas to target with him or her, and how you can be a positive influence in your child’s mathematics education.
• Remembering Language Skills— In all of the rush to emphasize math skills, it is important to not lose sight of language skills or to think of them as mutually exclusive.  Many students can work out complex math equations, but can’t solve the simplest word problem because their language skills are lacking.  That is why it is important to keep your child’s language and vocabulary skills up by reading with him or her and encouraging this activity as much as possible.

Cultivating math skills is something that takes time and dedication.  That is why parents should be ready to do what they can to help their children in this endeavor.  With the new emphasis on math and technology-based jobs, it will definitely pay off for them in the future.

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### No Such Thing as Bad at Math?

October20

Anyone who has been involved in mathematics education will tell you that there are tons of excuses out there as to why students don’t succeed in math class (and conversely, why parents aren’t comfortable helping their children with math homework).  But perhaps one of the most depressing labels is that a child is just “bad at math.”  This label, unfortunately, gets tossed around quite a bit (and labeled at girls an inordinate amount of time more than boys).  Many see the mathematics bug as some kind of genetic lottery, where someone is born lucky or unlucky at numbers.  But, as usual, the truth is much more complicated.

Ability in mathematics isn’t some inherent talent.  It is actually a skill that is cultivated through hard work and dedication.  Unfortunately, in the United States, many people use the “bad-at-math” label as a crutch to simply excuse the need for more work.  In fact, the opposite is true.  Those who need help in bringing their mathematics skills up to par need more math classes, not less.  Math is one of the courses that require drill and practice for a person to “get the hang of it.”  That is why more work and practice is needed for these students.  A child cannot master a concept after only a few practice problems.  The more computations and problems they perform, the more likely they are to master the skill.

One of the far-reaching consequences of this attitude can be found in the high-stakes competition of the contemporary job market.  Other countries have taken the opposite attitude of American students.  They realize that they must push themselves harder in order to succeed, particularly in jobs such as science, math and engineering.  These are the peers that our students will have to compete with for these jobs and these are the reasons why our students routinely score lower than other countries in these areas.