Book reviews for Children's books
September 8, 2012 posted by note3793

Number Magic…

I found this book in a charity shop for £1.49 and as I have an 8 year old I thought it may help with his Maths. He’s a fab little Maths mind, has remembered his tables very easily and seems to like the logical ‘it doesn’t change’ nature of Maths. There’s no opinions, no interpretation to Maths; it’s either right or wrong and he likes that. When I was teaching, those that were more able were stretched by ‘enrichment not advancement’ which meant that I had to plan to use the Maths skills we were focussing on but in a more investigational type of way. If the class was learning about time and I knew my more able children could do what was being asked I would, for example give them a TV times and asking them to plan 24 hours of TV viewing for me. I would give them criteria such as; I want to watch every channel, I want an hours break for lunch, I need 8 hours sleep and I like to watch the BBC news. They loved this sort of thing and actually got quite excited about it (they once planned me a narrow boat holiday!) and it gave their brains a great workout.

Enrichment is important to consolidate learnt skills. Children can’t just simply learn something new every day as they need to practise these new skills, use them in different contexts to check they still understand and generally, children all love a good puzzle when you tell them ‘I’m not sure you’re going to be able to do this one, I think I’ve definitely beaten you here…’ I walked away after that and heard the buzz of excited children. A page of sums that are harder than the average children’s isn’t always best (or interesting) enrichment is sideways learning that can still take them forwards but in different ways.

This book is fabulous for enrichment of those children who need it. My son loves a good puzzle and now his eyes don’t make the numbers jump about on the page his love of Maths has really developed. We gave him the first puzzle ‘Magical Shapes’ in which all the numbers of the sides of the shapes had to add up to the same number and he was hard at it for about 1/2hr. He thought he’d found it then the groan started as he realised he hadn’t but his interest didn’t wain and in fact I would say his determination (and concentration) increased. He did find a solution but then slowly realised that there were many solutions and he thought this was pretty cool and the next day he asked to do some more which is always a sign that something is good.

This book investigates and introduces many famous mathematical ideas. The Fibonacci series is looked at on page 22, Pascal’s thoughts on the Chinese Triangle (which is linked to the Fibonacci series) shows that Maths isn’t an isolated subject but that is has interested many people through the centuries and is still getting people’s brains going! Children often complain ‘Why do I have to learn this, I’m never going to use this when I leave school… ‘ but by doing more investigational maths I think it shows children how they will use maths in their future lives.

Who’s it for?

It says 7-11 but if you think you’re child needs a bit more of Maths give them a try as soon as you think they are ready. My son is 8 but has had difficulties with his eye sight so we’re just using this now.

Why is it good?

It contains very small bite sized pieces of fabulous fascinating Maths all the way from the ancient Egyptians, through the Chinese and mentions lots of famous Mathematicians. There are lots of explanations so anyone not too sure on their own Maths needn’t be afraid of their child getting stuck and them not being able to help them! I found it really interesting and it was a great way to start a conversation about Maths that carried on after the book had been put back on the shelf. It’s colourful and not maths textbook like at all so it doesn’t feel that anyone is being asked to ‘do Maths’ at home. I photocopied the page so Ollie could write and rub out his ideas (give them extra sheets of paper to scrawl on and tell them it’s FINE to get your ideas down on paper) and it also meant I could use the book again with my other son’s when the time came. There are 6 pages at the back of pull out puzzle pieces and games counters so you don’t need to scramble around and find things to use for the games inside.

My score


Where do I get it from?

£4.99 from amazon, here’s the link


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