HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Addition and Subtraction: Math Games for Elementary Students, Grades K-4
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 and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: For parents and teachers of children ages 5-10
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Gaskins, Denise. Addition and Subtraction: Math Games for Elementary Students, Grades K-4 (published in 2015 by Tabletop Academy Press, Blue Mound, IL). This is Volume 2 in the “Math You Can Play.” Volume I was Counting and Number Bonds: Math Games for Early Learners, Grades PK-2. While not everyone needs to study trigonometry and calculus or even algebra and geometry, most people obviously agree that learning mathematics is important. Why? Ruth Beechick, a noted educator and wonderful supporter of homeschooling who is now deceased, gave this answer in her Teacher’s Guide to Ray’s Arithmetics published by Mott Media. “Christians sometimes ask, ‘Does the study of arithmetic glorify God?’ The answer is yes. While learning arithmetic, children develop their God-given, natural, Biblical mode of thinking. Biblical thinking begins with the premises that God created everything and that basic truths of the creation are self-evident to us. We know, for instance, that we are in time and space. The concept of number—with unity and plurality—seems natural to us. So do the concepts of motion, equality, causation, and order. Pagan humanist reasoning denies that outer reality is truth. Truth is derived in the minds of humans, and if human logic cannot prove anything, it cannot be called a truth. Thus, since we cannot prove by our frail logic system that there is a God, God is not truth. But in the study of arithmetic, even pagans still use a Biblical mode of thinking. The basic, unprovable truths are acknowledged by all, and the study of arithmetic is built upon them. With this mode of thinking and study, it is natural to view God’s creation as orderly. Stars keep time more perfectly than clocks can ever manage, crystals teach solid geometry, musical tones vibrate in mathematical patterns that man discovers rather than creates. The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows His handiwork. Yes, children can learn arithmetic to the glory of God.”
It helps to make math fun, and this can be done by using math games. Addition and Subtraction is an amazing book that features 23 wonderful, kid-tested games using very simple materials, mostly cards and dice, including Concentration, War, Thirty-One, Nim, Bowling, Farkle, and even Snugglenumber, under four chapter headings: “Tens and Teens;” “Numbers to One Hundred;” “Mixed Operations;” and “Logic and Probability.” These can be used by either classroom teachers or homeschooling parents to offer a variety of challenges for early elementary-age students, kindergarten through grade four, especially those who may not be fans of traditional workbooks, to develop mental flexibility by playing with numbers, from basic math facts to the hundreds and beyond, build strategic thinking skills, and give them hands-on experience with probability. Author Denise Gaskins says in her Preface, “If you’ve read the Math You Can Play Series books in order, you will notice that I repeat myself in Sections I and III. I’m including the setup information and math teaching tips in each book, so the later ones can stand on their own.”
Books like this can be a very welcome complement to any mathematics curriculum to help make math more meaningful for youngsters. It’s not just a bunch of numerical facts to be learned so as to complete a worksheet as quickly as possible. Since God created the heavens and earth with mathematical precision, we should teach it as one of the important tools that we can use to help us discover the kinds of relationships that God has placed in this universe. The next two books planned for the series are Multiplication and Fractions: Math Games for Tough Topics, Grades 2-6 (late 2016), and Pre-Algebra and Geometry: Math Games for Middle School, Grades 4-9 (2017).