I started this newsletter because I believe that games are the easiest, most consistently entertaining way to introduce math ideas to your kids. Despite this, I know that games are far from the only way to get your kids talking about and exploring math. As a parent, I have many other tools in my toolkit for provoking an interesting conversation. Many of those tools I cribbed directly from Table Talk Math.
Table Talk Math is the brainchild of John Stevens (@jstevens009), a math teacher and author who lives in California. Like me, John is passionate about helping parents to have more meaningful mathematical interactions with their kids.
To that end, John has created three awesome products in the Table Talk Math umbrella: a newsletter, a book, and (my favorite) a set of placemats, all imbued with the same sense of excitement and exploration for you and your kids.
If you enjoy this newsletter, you'll love Table Talk Math's newsletter as well. Each week, you get an idea for a way to have a mathematical conversation with your kids. While this newsletter is more focused on games, Table Talk Math roams all over the mathematical countryside. If you have older kids, you might find some deeper activities to push them further in their mathematical development
If you're looking for a more thorough, expansive set of guidelines and ideas, you should definitely pick up the Table Talk Math book, which was published a year ago this week!
In the book, John introduces all sorts of activities, games, and conversation starters that you can use with kids of all ages. He peppers the book with great stories and anecdotes from his own kids, which livens up the pace of the book. I like to flip to a random chapter and see if I can adapt the idea for my own kids (or sometimes, for my students).
My favorite item that John has developed at Table Talk Math are these lovely placemats for your dinner table. They come with a set of blank grids and boxes, as well as a number line that your kids can easily draw on with dry erase or Crayola markers (the ink washes right off).
These mats provide a canvas for mathematical discussion that is as free and versatile as your kids' minds! The grid could be used to count and tally, to make a hundreds chart, to draw geometric shapes, or even to begin a discussion about fractions or decimals.
The back of the placemat includes some quick suggestions for parents looking to start those mathematical conversations. My kids are so young that they've mostly used them as a canvas for art, but that's fine. Over time, as they come back to the models on the mats, their artistic and mathematical ideas will become more sophisticated.
Coming up from Games for Young Minds
Next week, I'll share a math game that I struggled to solve for years, whiling away my time at Cracker Barrel while we waited for our food to arrive.