Book review: Beyond Numbers

Beyond Numbers book

I bought this book a year or so ago and wanted to give a review of it. Actually it will be more of a “why I like this book” kind of post. 

Beyond Numbers: A Practical Guide to Teaching Math Biblically by Katherine Loop is the most helpful introduction to teaching math with Biblical principles that I have come across. She packs a lot of food for thought into less than 100 pages, and as a busy mom I appreciate that I can read it in one night.Chapters include “Where Did Math Come From and Why Does it Work?,” Math is Not Neutral,” and “Teaching Math Biblically.” It is a concise synopsis of math’s origin, exactly how to discover principles and how to teach them to your children of all ages. She also offers  curriculum suggestions, supplement resources, and help to overcome challenges (which we all have with some child at some time).

BPA requires you to internalize the principles and ideas in order to teach them to your children and she does a good job of helping you do that.If you have a hard time with math yourself or if you struggle to get your children when math lessons come around, this book will bring the subject alive for you. As she states in the chapter “Adopting a New Heart Toward Math, “…I would encourage you to do more than just add Bible verses to your curriculum. Let God change your heart toward math….As you begin to see and use math Biblically yourself,you will be able to teach math Biblically to your children so that they too, can behold God in math.”

For more info on this book visit Christian Perspectives. They offer many mathematical resources.

First day excitement–or the lack thereof (and cool math revelations!!)

We started back to school today. We go year-round and will finish up next July. My Princess S was terribly excited about the whole thing. Today we covered Bible, literature, math and English. We discussed scriptures and reasoned why we should study these subjects. Then we created cover pages for each subject. After a while of this Princess S (who is 5.5) was bored and wanted to do math. It reminded me of K with Princess G and she was bored too so I didn’t get upset because I now understand that learning is not always about being entertained.

In math today we were discussing that mathematics is God’s language. While we have been discussing that for a while now, I saw it in a new way. When we read Job 26:7 it clicked for me. Math is the language of God because everything is held together by math, and God spoke all things into being, so math is His language. WOW! He holds the Earth in space by math (His Word). That is amazing. Princess G thought it was “cool.” This is going to be a great year!

Oh, and I have to say that I’m already glad I decided to challenge Princess S because she is such a fast learner and catches onto things so quickly. We both would have been frustrated without more structure and substance to her lessons. 

Make your own math manipulatives

It’s fun and easy to make your own math manipulatives. There’s no need to invest lots of money in these fun math helps. You can whip lots of these up in an afternoon, mostly with stuff you have around the house, and it’s fun to get the whole family involved. (These items can keep preschoolers busy too!) Decide what you really need, not just what your math program says you need. Then get busy and make your own alternatives to the pricey manipulatives.

  • Money for counting. Make change at your bank. For $5, which is about the same cost as the plastic coins from the teacher store, your kids can get the feel of making real change. Or let them count their piggy bank.
  • lacing cards. You can recycle cereal boxes or large plastic lids. Cut into the shape you want and punch holes all around the edges. Use an old shoelace and let them go to town.
  • buttons, macaroni, beans, bottlecaps, candy pieces or anything small can be used for counting, sorting, predicting and quantitative measurements. Mini muffin tins are great with these. You can also use these for simple math operations, like adding and subtracting.
  • Make your own place value sheet on a paper divided into place values with a marker (in “landscape” position). They can lay the beans or candy pieces in the proper place value.
  • Color rigatoni or other large pasta with a little alcohol and food color. Lay them out to dry and then use some twine or yarn to string them together. (A little tape around the end like a shoelace will make stringing easier.) You can teach patterns and fine motor skills.
  • I found a small food scale at the dollar store. This is great for predicting and comparing amounts.
  • Use your measuring cups and spoons to measure all sorts of things.
  • I also got a ruler at Wal-Mart for 50 cents. And a fabric tape measure for a dollar. Kids love to compare and predict measurements. T-charts are simple for recording their results.
  • Make your own flash cards. There are free programs online or you can get out your markers and index cards and have a great time creating your own. You can make silly word problems too.
  • Another fun idea is to get two large tubs. Fill one with uncooked rice and use different size containers to see how many it takes to move the rice from one tub to another. Little kids really like to scoop the rice. You can keep preschoolers busy for a long time with some fun tools like a big spoon and a cup or some sand box tools.

Does your family have any fun, homemade manipulatives? Let me in on it!