Now that I have a middle-schooler, our focus has drastically changed. Although my son is only 12, he actually has a pretty clear focus now on where he wants to end up, career-wise. It all started with the little gem of a book that I reviewed here, called 10 Things All Future Mathematicians and Scientists Must Know. This book really sparked my son’s interest in statistics and data analysis. The career outlook for data scientists is tremendous and this field is quoted as the Next Big Thing. He still wants to work for NASA of course. I love that about him.
Math is so much more fun to teach now that we are through the fundamentals. I tutored math in college and used statistics daily in my pre-mom career, so I am thrilled that my son has inherited my love of numbers.
Books on our Math Shelf that we are currently using
Teaching Textbooks remains our spine. He is almost to pre-algebra now and absolutely loves the teaching method of this program. It is completely video based, very child-friendly, and the teacher speaks and explains in a way that anyone can understand. They do sell workbooks to use if a child needs extra practice, but we always skip them and just purchase the software. We’ve been using this curriculum for about 4 years and never want to change!
Life of Fred is one of our supplements to Teaching Textbooks. This is seriously the funnest math curriculum out there. A series for kids who love to THINK and do not like spoon-fed answers, it is written in story form, and revolves around the adventures of a little boy named Fred who also happens to be a genius college professor.
How to Be a Math Genius from DK Publishing
This colorful book makes numbers and all mathematical concepts come to life. Archimedes, Ben Franklin’s magic squares, mazes, brain teasers, mapping, Isaac Newton, paradoxes, ciphers! This book has it all and will make your child suddenly realize how relevant (and fun) math is!
This is the perfect book to pull out when you still want to cover math for the day, but your child needs a break from math. You’ll learn how both sides of the brain work, with fascinating cartoon images. It discusses prodigies, computer brains, and the future of A.I. The history of math is covered, from nomad to Egyptians, Greek and more. (A note for young earth creationists: this book does mention 100,000 when speaking of the nomads.) We LOVE the handy chart of how numbers were written in the various languages. By the end of this book, you and your child will be thinking outside of the box when it comes to math.
Statistics for Kids from Prufrock Press
After searching far and wide, this is the only quality book I have found that directly teaches statistics to elementary and middle schoolers. Sure, the topic is often broached in textbooks, but only briefly and very remedial at that. Statisticians do more than just analyze data and this book provides a hands-on approach to learning about what is involved in working with numbers and trends. Like logic, students really should have experience with data analysis if they want to grow up to be critical thinkers.
This book also contains an emphasis on technical writing throughout, another subject that is much needed but lacking in schools. Our future scientists and engineers need experience with technical writing in order to succeed in a STEM-related career.
Another thing that I love about this book is that it does not just teach, for example, how to find a trend in numbers, but it provides real world examples of why it may be important to learn about trending. An example is that statistics and trending help sports coaches in their recruiting efforts.
Chances Are: Making Probability and Statistics Fun to Learn and Easy to Teach from Prufrock Press
This book can easily go hand-in-hand with the book above on statistics. Probability is the study of patterns and the occurrence of random numbers. Patterns can emerge from analyzing results and studying patterns can help a student to understand estimates and samples. This book doesn’t just show one answer for each question. Some questions have multiple solutions and examples.
Venn diagrams, charts, formulas, dice, cards, and other manipulatives are used. Each of the 9 chapters has enough content to easily stretch it out over 2-3 weeks of school, making this a curriculum that could easily last half the school year. The lessons are perfectly laid out to be very mom and kid-friendly.
Exploring the World of Mathematics from New Leaf Press
From Amazon: Math doesn’t have to be difficult, and John Tiner shows that it can actually be fun. Students of different ages and skill levels can use this fascinating book. Intended as a supplement to a homeschool curriculum, it’s more than just a math book. Tracing the history of mathematics principles and theory, it includes stories and tips showing math to be practical for everyday use. It also uses many examples of mathematics from the Bible and explains the timekeeping methods used in biblical times.
65 Short Mysteries You Solve With Math by Eric Yoder
From Amazon: Sharpen your pencils! The second book in our wildly successful One Minute Mysteries series is here. In One Minute Mysteries: 65 Short Mysteries You Solve With Math, kids must tap into their critical thinking skills to solve these entertaining and educational mysteries. Each one-minute-long mystery challenges your knowledge of math in everyday life situations (solutions included). Great for kids, grown-ups, educators, and anyone who loves good mysteries, good math, or both!
Champions of Mathematics from Master Books
From Amazon: The great minds of the past are still with us today, in many ways. Individuals who explored the natural world hundreds of years ago have given us a treasure of knowledge in all the sciences. In this exciting series from educator/author John Hudson Tiner, short biographies of the world’s most gifted thinkers will inspire the leaders of tomorrow. Learn how Pythagoras investigated mathematics through his affinity for music. Marvel at the “new math” Leonardo Fibonacci learned from the Moors in North Africa.
And of course, 10 Things All Future Mathematicians and Scientists Must Know from Prufrock Press.
Mathematicians and scientists have been closely tied to many famous disasters. The Challenger explosion, the failure of the Mars Orbiter, and the Kansas City Hyatt Regency walkway collapse all involved thinking errors. This book presents the ten things our future mathematicians and scientists must know to prevent these kinds of tragedies from occurring. Because science and mathematics instruction is often dominated by facts and calculation, children are rarely exposed to these important concepts. Over 50 stories are included that show children the strong connections between mathematics and science and the real world.
Check out my Pinterest board for middle school math ideas.
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