Playful math books by Denise Gaskins

FAQ: My Playful Math Books

In the weeks since I opened my new Playful Math Store, I’ve been getting a lot of questions about how all the books relate to each other.

For example…

Q: Your books look so interesting! Is the material in the books all different?

A: There is a bit of overlap between books, but not much in most cases.

Books for Parents and Teachers

Let’s Play Math is the foundation book for parents/teachers, combining practical tips, educational philosophy, and a few games. It aims to answer the questions: “What is math really all about? And how can we teach it so it makes sense to our kids?” Then all the other books build on that foundation, getting down into the details with specific games and activities for different ages and interests.

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The Math You Can Play series focuses specifically on math games sorted by topics traditionally taught at various age levels. These books are still written to the parents/teachers and include teaching tips and advice. There is some repetition between these books in the advice sections, so they can each stand alone. And a few games are repeated because they are just so good for such a wide range of age levels that I didn’t want anyone to miss them.

The Playful Math Singles series features topical books. Some of these have a bit of overlap with Let’s Play Math, but they go much deeper. For example, Word Problems from Literature and Let’s Play Math both talk about how to solve word problems, but in LPM there’s just a single chapter with only a few examples, while WPL goes into greater depth with plenty of worked-out solutions covering the full range from early addition to beginning algebra.

The most overlap for these older books is probably between Let’s Play Math and 70+ Things To Do with a Hundred Chart, since that book began as a short section in LPM and then got expanded into a book of its own. I’d estimate fewer than 1/3 of the activities overlap. The hundred chart book definitely has more games and more ideas for older students.

One Big Exception

My newest series, the Tabletop Math Games Collection, overlaps significantly with the Math You Can Play series, but the new books are written to be used directly by players of any age. They are like student books, in full color and without teaching tips, while the Math You Can Play books are more like the teacher’s manuals for each level.

Printable Activities for Students

The printable activity guides are unique for having pages that work as student handouts. Many of them stand alone, not repeating material in the older books.

As I said above, the Tabletop Math Games Collection, overlaps significantly with the Math You Can Play books, with the printable files serving as handouts and gameboards to accompany the older game books.

Among the stand-alone activities, “The Function Machine” and “The Best Math Game Ever” are taken almost directly from the prealgebra Math You Can Play book, and “The Case of the Mysterious Story Problem” is a new approach to the same four problem-solving questions I wrote about in both Let’s Play Math and Word Problems from Literature.

In the journaling sub-category, the task cards are all taken directly from 312 Things To Do with a Math Journal, just put into a convenient format (and without all the chapters on writing advice). Also, “Join the Math Rebellion” is a copy of the poster pages from the Math Rebel journal, with black & white versions included to save printer ink.

Each Book Has a Preview File

If you browse my online store, you can download preview pages that I hope will give you a good idea of what to expect from each book.

I know the options can seem overwhelming when you see them all laid out like this, but I’m trying to make it possible for people to choose the formats that work best for their individual families.

And more books are coming soon. I’ve only scratched the surface of the ways parents and teachers can play math with our kids. It’s a never-ending adventure!

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