How do I keep my kid thinking over the summer?

July 1, 2014

Oh, you and me both, honey!  You and me both!  This is what I’m doing – please share your ideas in the comments!

  • Math, math, math!  I think this is the easiest thing for a kid to forget over the long, summer vacation. is a great, free site that gives you topic-specific worksheets.  Maisonet Math costs $10 for a year of unlimited worksheets.  You can check out what they have before you pay.  Believe it or not, we actually pay for in our family (mostly because I keep forgetting to shut off the renewal function!). IXL has math and language arts for kids K-12, but I hate to admit, my kid hardly ever does it.  He really doesn’t like online test stuff.  He’d rather write it all down on a piece of paper (but I think their content is great!).  And, hey, don’t go overboard.  Your kid should still have a <I>summer</I> after all.  I try for one math worksheet a day, 3-4x a week.
  • Reading time is important!  Here is an old post of mine regarding some great books for kids.  And, here is James Patterson’s site Read Kiddo Read.  Your local library is a great place to go during the summer (and all year!), and librarians are always a wonderful source of recommendations.  Also, I find it much more educational and inspiring to page through an encyclopedia than to miscellaneously go through information online – I think it might be because things online are linked, so they are connected in some way, but the information in a paper encyclopedia is alphabetical, so you get exposed to things you might not ever find out about otherwise.  Also, there’s a lot less inappropriate material for kids in a World Book Encyclopedia, as compared to the rough-and-tumble internet.
  • Limit video/computer game time!  Hey, I love them myself (I am a recovering 2048 and Kingdom Rush addict!), but you’ve got to limit the amount of time you play them, or seriously, your brain just turns to mush!  I prefer to have my son limit himself (doesn’t always work, but we’re getting better at it), and I use this timer from Oxo as a tool to help him do that.  (I’ve been a big fan of that timer for years.  Here’s an old post I wrote about it!)
  • Keep active, eat healthy, and try to maintain healthy sleep and eating habits!  Physical activity and healthy eating are important (duh), and sleep is necessary for all of us, especially children (who should get between 10 and 12 hours of sleep a night, and they often won’t “sleep in” even if they are up late!).  So, try to maintain a regular, early bedtime during the summer!

Museum of Math opened in December – should I go?

January 14, 2013

Here’s the short version – if you are a tourist who is in town now, loves math, and is excited about this museum, get yourself to The Museum of Mathematics.  If you are a local, want to be busy for an hour or two, and love math particularly, I’d give it a few more weeks to get settled, and then go on a weekday (if possible).  If you’re looking for something science-y and not specifically only math-oriented and want to spend a day, visit the New York Hall of Science in Queens instead.

Museum of Mathematics, NYC

Museum of Mathematics, 11 East 26th Street (between 5th and Madison), NYC

I went to the Museum of Mathematics on Sunday, January 6, 2013 and was generally impressed.  It’s a loving tribute to mathematics, made by people who managed to raise heaping loads of cash.  They scored big on aesthetics and some of the exhibit detail was wonderful.  Many of the exhibits seem to be geared toward children in the 4th through 8th grade range.

Excellent exhibit detail was presented in basic, intermediate and advanced levels.

Excellent exhibit detail was presented in basic, intermediate and in-depth levels.

There were many hands-on exhibits, and the Enigma Cafe (a place to sit and work out puzzles on the lower level – there is no food served) seemed especially interesting.  However, even though the museum was probably at half capacity (or less) when I went, this puzzle area as well as many of the exhibits felt crowded.  This is why I advise going on a weekday if you can.

Screaming children, lighted floor, well-thought out seating.

Screaming children, lighted floor, well-thought out seating.

Harmony of the Spheres is a hands-on exhibit that makes music.

Harmony of the Spheres is a hands-on exhibit that makes music.

The reason I have suggested waiting a few weeks if you are local is because many of the exhibits were out of order when I was there.  The Museum of Mathematics just opened in December, so they’ll probably get it all up and running soon (I hope).

Many exhibits were unavailable or being repaired during our visit.

Many exhibits were unavailable or being repaired during our visit.

Museum of Mathematics
Open 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., 7 days a week
$15 per adult / $9 per child
Give yourself between 1.5 and 3 hours to visit the museum.

New York Times article about the museum
Live Science Photo Tour

Do you let your kid play shoot-em-up video games?

November 24, 2011

Yes I do.  In fact, I encourage him to play Pemdas Blaster from MangaHigh.  It’s a first person shooter game that only allows the player to shoot once he or she solves an equation.  The equations start out very easy, but can get VERY hard on higher levels.  I love to play it as well.  Check out the games on this site.  You’ll be glad you did.

Pemdas Blaster by Manga High

Pemdas Blaster by Manga High

Where can I get my math on?

June 28, 2011

Some time in 2012, you’ll be able to get your math on at the Museum of Mathematics, which will be located at 11 East 26th Street in Manhattan.  The New York Times had an article about it recently.  I noticed that Stephen Wolfram, founder and CEO of Wolfram Research is on the Board of Trustees, and I just read an interesting article in The Economist about him.

Gift for Geeks?

April 12, 2011

G Is for Googol: A Math Alphabet BookG Is for Googol: A Math Alphabet Book by David M. Schwartz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I actually read this book on my own, I enjoyed it so much. It’s a Math Alphabet book, probably good for matheletes of all ages, starting around 6 or 7. To give you an example of some of the topics, we have A is for Abacus, B in for Binary, C is for Cubit, D is for Diamond, E is for Equilateral and Exponent (they were too excited to just give one E entry), F is for Fibonacci, etc. You get the idea of what level they are at.

Little T and I especially liked “K is for Königsberg” (about the “Königsberg bridge problem), a great example of a network theory problem.

“R is for Rhombicosidodecaheadron” kind of lost us, but we were recaptured by “T is for Tessellate” (when shapes cover a surface with no gaps in between).

View all my reviews

What would you serve at a math party?

November 20, 2010


Math Club for Girls?

April 3, 2010

Yes!  When I was at the New York City FIRST Mega Celebration at the Javitz Center last month, I saw exciting robotics competitions as well as interesting exhibitors.  One of the exhibitors was Girls’ Angle, a Math Club for Girls.  Also, as I mentioned in an earlier post, I saw the exhibition booth for Make, a DIY technology ‘zine that is fascinating and clever and has an interesting fundraising program called Make: Money.  If your team sells subscriptions to Make through this program, you get to keep 50% of the sales.  Email for more info.

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