Category Archives: Elementary Mathematics

Exploring Factor Rainbows

This week, I'm going to describe one of my favorite activities for introducing young learners to multiplication and factors. It comes from  Nathalie Sinclair, a professor of mathematics education at Simon Fraser University. In the interactive Web Sketchpad model below, press Jump Along to watch the bunny take 2 jumps of 4 … Continue Reading ››

Isosceles Triangle Puzzles

As readers of this blog can probably tell, I like puzzles. I especially enjoy taking ordinary mathematical topics that might not seem puzzle worthy and finding ways to inject some challenge, excitement, and mystery into them. This week, I set my sights on isosceles triangles. It's common to encounter isosceles triangles as supporting players in geometric proofs, but … Continue Reading ››

Dancing Unknowns: You Haven’t Seen Simultaneous Equations Like These!

When it comes to simultaneous equations, I like to push the bounds of conventional pedagogical wisdom. In an earlier post, I offered a puzzle in which elementary-age students solve for four unknowns given eight equations. Now, I'd like to present a puzzle that might sound even more audacious: Solving for ten unknowns. Oh, … Continue Reading ››

Logic Puzzles Made Visual

When I was child, I loved to solve the brainteasers in logic puzzle magazines. You probably know the type: Ruth, Phyllis, and Joan each bought a different kind of fruit (orange, apple, pear) and a different vegetable (spinach, kale, carrots) at the supermarket. No one bought both an orange and carrots. Ruth didn't buy an apple or kale.Continue Reading ››

Covering Your Bases: An Interactive Dials Model

There are certain topics in mathematics education not appropriate for polite discussion. Number bases other than 10 fit this category well, perhaps because of their association with the maligned "new math" of the 1960s. That's a shame because there is a lot to learn from them, especially when presented as interactive puzzles. Below are eight dials, each with … Continue Reading ››

The Return of the Odometer

In my prior post, I presented an interactive Web Sketchpad odometer that is a great tool for introducing young learners to place value. Well, technology moves fast these days, and the latest odometers are more powerful than ever. While our prior odometer featured '+' buttons above each digit, our newest innovation in number-tracking technology features  '+' and … Continue Reading ››

Questioning Some Dynamic Geometry Angle Wisdom

For the past eight months, my colleague Scott Steketee and I have collaborated with the authors of the elementary curriculum Everyday Mathematics to design interactive Web Sketchpad models for their next edition. When it came time to create a Sketchpad representation of an isosceles triangle, I built the interactive triangle model below. Try dragging any of … Continue Reading ››