Friday, September 2, 2011

Review: Math Dictionary for Kids

Whenever possible, I integrate the use of mathematical terms in daily lessons. This year, however, I intend to expand student exploration of terms through Math Notebooking. (That post will come soon!) I was happy to receive a review copy of Math Dictionary for Kids as it appears to complement my plans.

The first section of the dictionary is organized by mathematical strand:
  • Whole Number and Operations
  • Measurement
  • Algebraic Ideas
  • Geometry
  • Decimals, Fractions, Percents, and Ratios
  • Statistics and Probability
Along with textual definitions, examples are often given. I especially appreciate the colorful visuals models that are frequently used. In some instances, multiple strategies are presented. For example, in "division strategies," the reader sees examples of strategies using multiples tables with larger numbers (if you've never seen this, it's often a very efficient strategy to use as an alternative to traditional long division), repeated subtraction, and the use of manipulatives. With the increasing amount of information that people need to process, it's essential that children learn to use a variety of strategies, considering which is most efficient for the problem at hand. For adults (and children) who've never been exposed to multiple strategies, the "Quick Reference Guide," gives a brief overview.

I'm especially partial to a section of the book called "Learning with Manipulatives." Again, for students or adults new to manipulatives--or for those wanting a review--this information clearly shows a variety of uses for manipulatives in mathematics. The visual models look very familiar after using similar models in my favorite curriculum, Bridges in Mathematics. I frequently lead workshops for teachers on how to use base ten pieces and grid paper for teaching multiplication and division, which leaves me feeling like the content is very up-to-date. Since most adults didn't have the opportunity to use manipulatives in their own math education, it's not unusual to see manipulatives set aside in classrooms (both at home and at school) or used as little more than playthings. This guide would be very instructive in helping adults and kids to see the value in using such tools to solve problems. After learning strategies for multi-digit multiplication with manipulatives, I can now do many problems in my head that used to take me significantly more time on paper.

Any negatives? Not really. I found one error. (p. 139 the array shows one dimension as 22 but in the problem it shows 21.) If anything, I'd love to see a book that pushed the exploration of strategies even further, encouraging people to look beyond the standard algorithm for the methods that are truly the most efficient. But this is a very nice start.

I wouldn't hesitate to use this book with students. Or to keep it nearby as a good reference for the teacher. The cover says it's for grades 4-9, but I'd use it with 3rd graders as well.

P.S. At the moment, this book is a good deal on Amazon.

Disclaimer: I received a review copy of Math Dictionary for Kids. I received no other compensation and this review is my opinion...good, bad, or otherwise. :) If you purchase this book through my Amazon link, all commissions go toward foster care through Grace and Hope at no additional cost to you. I do not keep any money myself; I am hoping to be able to sponsor an additional child in foster care through commissions on this site.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for hosting. I will be checking out the math dictionary!


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