By tpm | March 23, 2016
Fresh off her 5th birthday, my oldest daughter has continued to be very interested in books at bedtime. She has also been showing an increasing interest in numbers: counting anything and everything, flash cards, and number apps on her Kindle Fire. Of course, I find this budding interest in math delightful, and while I don’t want to smother it, I have kept my ears pricked for ways to encourage her further.
One Christmas gift that has gone over in a big way with her is Bedtime Math: A Fun Excuse to Stay Up Late. I recommended this book in a recent math gifts post, but now that I’ve had the chance to spend some time seeing a child interact with the problems in the book, I feel like it deserves its own review.
This volume of Bedtime Math, currently one of three, features a common format throughout. Open up to any random page and on the left side, you’ll find a combination of vignette, story, or fun fact about a topic of interest to kids (spaceflight, etc). On the right side, you’ll find a brief math problem related to the topic at hand. There are three levels of problems depending on your child’s age (“Wee Ones”, “Little Kids”, “Big Kids”).
For my daughter, there is still plenty of challenge in the Wee Ones problems. The fact is that I am thrilled to see her introduced to addition and subtraction in context that she finds positive and engaging. There is still plenty of finger counting going on as she works these problems, but I can see her starting to make important connections about how numbers work (“Daddy, it says to 10, but I’m out of fingers, so you hold up 5 fingers and I’ll hold up 5”).
In Bedtime Math: A Fun Excuse to Stay Up Late, author Laura Overdeck has created a book that works as both a fantastic story book, and a terrific math book. The pictures and vignettes are entertaining, for sure, but it is the variety in the math problems that make it work for the educator in me. There is such a temptation when working with kids to oversimplify problems and make the repetitive. Overdeck does none of that. The Wee Ones problems, which I know the best, include not just 2 but 3 number addition and subtraction. They occasionally require a sum larger than 10, obviously important if you are solving by counting on fingers. There’s even a couple of problems where one of the numbers required to solve is not given, but must be inferred from the wording of the problem. I love that.
Bottom Line Bedtime Math Review
I don’t know a higher complement I can pay Bedtime Math: A Fun Excuse to Stay Up Late that to say it is my daughter’s favorite book. She has requested it every night for 3 months straight, and I don’t see that trend letting up for a while. A couple of weeks ago, she pulled it off the shelf, and I said, “Great! Let’s read a few stories from your book.” She replied, “No, Daddy. It’s a math book. Let’s do a few math problems from my book.” It was a good reminder that at her young age, she has none of the mathematical baggage I often encountered with my high school students in a classroom setting. For parents of young children, I’d encourage you to start building positive associations with math early. Bedtime Math is a great was to start building those positive math vibes.
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