HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Counting and Number Bonds: Math Games for Early Learners, Grades PK-2
Author: Denise Gaskins
Publisher: Tabletop Academy Press, 2015
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Text intended for adults, games for ages 4-8
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Gaskins, Denise. Counting and Number Bonds: Math Games for Early Learners, Grades PK-2 (published in 2015 by Tabletop Academy Press, Blue Mound, IL). To be honest, math was never my favorite subject in school. However, I was fairly good at it through grade four. Then in grade five, we got hit with the “new math.” The poor teachers, who were used to instructing the old way, seemed at a loss, and I was fairly stumped until seventh grade when we had a math teacher who really knew his stuff. As a result, though I still did not care for math that much, I was able to negotiate it through high school and college. Because learning math is so important, homeschooling parents are always looking for the “right” curriculum—Saxon Math, Singapore Math, Math-U-See, etc. Maybe the curriculum would not matter so much if the students could just see that math can be fun.
In this Volume 1 of her “Math You Can Play” series, author Denise Gaskins, a veteran homeschooling mother of five who has taught or tutored mathematics at every level from preschool to undergraduate physics, provides kid-tested games which offer a variety of challenges for preschool and early-elementary learners. Young children can play with counting and number recognition, while older students explore place value, build number sense, and begin learning the basics of addition, using common, everyday objects such as playing cards, dominoes, and dice. Denise says, “I encourage parents to look beyond the textbook–a useful tool, but such a limited one. We want to explore the adventure of learning real mathematics, math as mental play, the essence of creative problem solving. This is what we need to teach our children: Mathematics is not just rules and rote memory. Math is a game, playing with ideas.”
There are four main sections in the book. “A Strategy for Learning” contains introductory material. “Counting and Number Bond Games” has four chapters: “Early Counting: Practice;” “Childhood Classics;” “Number Bonds;” and “Bigger Numbers,” with a total of 21 math games which will help students to develop familiarity with numbers and promote strategic thinking skills. Classroom teachers can use them as warm-ups or for review day at the end of a term. Homeschoolers can make games a regular part of their lesson plans to build the students’ mental math skills. “Playing to Learn Math” offers some teaching philosophy. The final section contains “Resources and References.” And there is an index. Parents, and especially those whose young ones are struggling with math, should find this book useful. The next book in the series is Addition and Subtraction: Math Games for Elementary Students, Grades K-4.