HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Multiplication and Fractions: Math Games for Tough Topics—Math You Can Play, Volume 3
Author: Denise Gaskins
Publisher: Tabletop Academy Press, 2016
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: Parents
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Gaskins, Denise. Multiplication and Fractions: Math Games for Tough Topics—Math You Can Play, Volume 3 (published in 2016 by Tabletop Academy Press, Blue Mound, IL). When you were in school, did you have a problem learning the multiplication tables and studying fraction? These are two areas which are among the first major stumbling points for students in their math studies. Multiplication and Fractions is the third book in Denise Gaskins’s series “Math You Can Play.” Book one is Counting and Number Bonds: Math Games for Early Learners, Grades PK-2, and book two is Addition and Subtraction: Math Games for Elementary Students, Grades K-4. In each of these, Sections I and III, which consist of setup information and math teaching tips, are each repeated to make sure the books can stand on their own.
Section II, after providing instructions on making multiplication and fraction playing cards, contains 25 math games divided up into four main divisions, with five to eight games each using simple household items such as playing cards, dominoes or dice, as well as several game boards available for free online. Some of them are based on well-known old games such as Fish, Concentration, War, Rummy, Tic-Tac-Toe, Twenty-Four, and Pickle. Others are newer ones developed by math teachers. Gaskins quotes Sue VanHattum who wrote, “Most people like games, so that’s an easy place to begin. At first the games can be the sweetness that helps the math medicine go down. Over time perhaps you can find the sweetness in the math itself—in a problem that inspires you to work and struggle until you finally get it, just for your own satisfaction.”
Playing math games helps students not only to see mathematical exploration as fun and joyful, but also to gain a more thorough understanding of number concepts instead of having merely a collection of apparently unconnected facts that if they are lucky they can recall when needed. The emphasis is on using games for conceptual understanding, learning different mathematical models, flexibility in working with numbers, logic, problem solving, and generally the importance of mental math. The author also quotes Ruth Beechick who said, “If you stay with meaningful mental arithmetic longer, you will find that your child, if she is average, can do problems much more advanced than the level listed for her grade. You will find that she likes arithmetic more. And when she gets to abstractions, she will understand them better.” Get ready—get set—let’s play math!