Do your students love doing math? Do they do it cuddled up in bed? Snuggled on the couch? On the beach on vacation? In pajamas on a rainy day? I often wonder if we could universally answer “yes” to these questions if we had as many recreational math opportunities for children as we do for reading. We expect kids to read books of their choice for 20-30 min. a night and have summer challenges to ensure that their love of reading continues to develop even when not in school.
Recreational math can be beautiful and relaxing. Artwork with compass and straight edge, such as this traditional Islamic design can be enjoyed by students (and adults!) beginning in elementary school.
And while there’s no shortage of recreational mathematics, puzzles, etc. done on paper, here are a few favorite ways to have a whole lot of fun doing math on a computer. In class these ideas can be used for free choice, in the after school program, for early finishers, or simply for fun open-ended math homework. At home, these ideas can be used as often as you wish!
In previous blogs we have shared ways Desmos tools are being integrated with our Engage NY curriculum in math class. However there are many really fun ways to push your mathematical thinking using Desmos simply for fun.
Marbleslides are a set of puzzles which become more challenging on each slide following the basic premise of launching balls into a basket. Marbleslide Mini-Golf is a great challenge for 5th graders who are ready to play around in all 4 quadrants when graphing, and an equally as exciting challenge for older students and adults. Watch an example of playing with coordinate pairs to get the purple balls into the hole.
Looking for more Marbleslide fun on different math topics? There are fabulous additional challenges from Desmos. Try them with a friend and you will see that doing them in pairs creates some tantalizing mathematical conversations.
Click here to try Marbleslides:
- Marbleslides Mini-Golf for 4-quadrant graphing
- Marbleslides for graphing linear equations
- Marbleslides for graphing quadratics
Another super-fun set of math puzzles are the Solve Me Puzzles which have three types of puzzles, all building algebraic reasoning. The mobiles can be initially solved using basic arithmetic, however they too become more and more challenging for puzzlers of any ability. Below is an example of the mobiles. Check out their entire web site here to see all three puzzle varieties. The tools to write on the screen are helpful as the puzzles become more challenging. You’re able to make a free account in order to save your progress on the puzzle series.
Finally, the math challenges published by the University of Cambridge are another series of endlessly rich puzzles to work on while snuggled up in bed. Special thanks to Sara Niesen, 4th grade teacher at Thousand Oaks for teaching us about this fabulous collection of challenges. They are found here at https://nrich.maths.org/
If adding recreational math to class, after school program, or home is something that excites you as much as it excites us, check back later in the year as we launch a BUSD web site with many more ideas. In the meantime, snuggle up and enjoy. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have recreational math ideas that you’d like included.