We’ve all been there – staring at a page full of numbers, feeling like our brains are about to explode. But what if we told you that there’s a way to learn math(s) that’s actually fun? A way that involves play and exploration, rather than rote memorisation and timed tests.
First, let’s talk about why play is so important when it comes to learning maths. As Stuart Brown explains in his book “Play,” play is a crucial component of human development. It’s how we learn about the world around us and develop skills that will be useful later in life. In fact, Brown argues that play is just as important as food, water, and shelter when it comes to our overall well-being.
Maths is a subject that’s often viewed as dry and uninteresting, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Sunil Singh and Christopher Brownell’s book “Maths Recess” argues that incorporating play into math(s) education can actually increase student engagement and understanding. When we approach math(s) with a sense of curiosity and playfulness, we’re more likely to make connections and discover patterns that we might not have seen otherwise.
In “Mathematical Mindsets”, Jo Boaler argues that anyone can become proficient in math(s) if they have the right mindset, and that traditional methods of teaching math(s) can lead to feelings of anxiety and a fixed mindset. It also means students see math(s) as abstract and rules based. Learning through play helps create a classroom environment that fosters a growth mindset, one where students are encouraged to take risks and explore.
One way is through games. There are countless math(s) games out there, and some that have fantastic mathematical thinking involved. By playing these games, students can develop their mathematical understanding in a fun and engaging way.
Another way to incorporate play into math(s) education is through exploration. Rather than simply memorising formulas and procedures, students can be encouraged to explore math(s) concepts on their own.
For example, they might be given a set of blocks and asked to build a structure using geometric principles. Or, they might be asked to solve a real-world problem, such as calculating the volume of a swimming pool.
By approaching math(s) in this way, students are more likely to develop a deep understanding of the subject, rather than simply regurgitating information. It also means they can solve problems rather than just mimicking procedures.
Of course, there will always be those who argue that play has no place in the classroom, especially when it comes to a subject as “serious” as math(s). But at Number Hive we would argue that this attitude is misguided. By incorporating play into math(s) education, we’re not only making the subject more enjoyable, but we’re also helping students develop important skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, and creativity.
Wrapping up, incorporating play into maths education can help to create an environment where students feel comfortable to take risks, make mistakes, and explore new concepts in a way that fosters creativity, curiosity, and joy in the learning process. Ultimately, this can lead to deeper understanding and engagement with math(s), and a lifelong love of learning.