Imagination might be the last word that comes to mind when you think about math. Probably because students are typically taught math via step-by-step standard algorithms without ever truly understanding what they mean and how they connect to the world around them.
What if you could tap into your student's sense of adventure while at the same time inspiring deep mathematical thinking? Let's try something different.
Imagine using equations to crack a hidden code with turtles in ancient China, herding your own cattle on the African savanna, and time traveling back to the age of the dinosaurs—all while using mathematics throughout.
See, math is everywhere, in everything, and for everyone. This central premise sparked the idea to bring math, culture, and creative problem solving to families through MIND Research Institute's Math Week.
What to Expect During Math Week
Math Week is all about connecting over mathematics. For five days, families can engage in MathMINDs stories that combine the best of storytelling and mathematics; merging math, literacy, and the world around us. The stories derive inspiration from cultural traditions originating in Lesotho, Madagascar, Ghana, and China. Each story explains how games are played, and new ones are made available throughout Math Week.
I loved working with my family. It was fun to learn so many ways to make numbers add up.
Families can play in fifteen-minute blocks from the comfort of home, or as long as they want during the week, and submit their gameplay data each night. Playtime is aggregated on our Math Week tracker to see how much math learning is taking place in your community in real-time!
MathMINDS Games and Stories
Students aren’t inspired to dig into complex math topics by mountains of homework. Playing games with loved ones offers a break from grades, tests, and worksheets. The best games offer low-floor/high-ceiling opportunities, allowing students to learn more deeply and develop a social bond around mathematics. Available in multiple free formats, MathMINDs Games strengthen mathematical understanding and build a positive math culture.
I love the games because even though I struggle in math, I feel like I’m just as smart as everyone else. I can learn more when we play.
Let's take a look at some of the games used during Math Week!
Turtle Sums Activity
This game illustrates addition and subtraction concepts using cultural connections to Ancient China. Lo Shu means ‘river book’ and is the name given to the magic square pattern on the turtle shell.
Integrated Math Concepts:
Addition and subtraction with 3 or more addends
Making a sum in multiple ways
Meaning of equivalence
Finding an equivalence between objects
Multi-step thinking and algebraic thinking
Kraal Animals Activity
Kraal Animals is an adaptation of an original game played by cattle herders in Lesotho called Dithwai (ditwa-i). The game is traditionally played so herders can remember and identify each cow within their herd. This game challenges a player’s working memory to train the brain to tackle new challenges and keep track of information. Additionally, we introduce concepts of taking turns and competitive play. These are social “soft skills” that take practice for kids to develop.
Every Week is Math Week
Math Week is popping up in communities everywhere! Take a look at how many families are engaging in fun math learning from their homes.
Families logged an additional 5.3 million ST Math minutes
Over 2 million minutes were spent on the games and stories which is equal to over 400 Family Math Nights
Over 10,000 families engaged
A single school tallied over 140,000 minutes
All content is available completely free on the website. To access the games, simply click on the day of the week and find your grade and language. Then, hover over the card and follow the steps. For those that want to reduce screen time, we have physical print options for access to the content and games as well.
Parker Erickson is MIND’s Content and Community Specialist. As a digital storyteller, Parker is passionate about building strong communities through technology and social media. Off the clock, you can find him buried in the latest issue of The New Yorker or experiencing different cultures through food.