Bernie, Fawn, Ben, Chris, John, Shireen, and Laura (geekmom extraordinaire) have all written lovely posts about the book. Here's one more. Debbie McDuffee is one of the 5,000-plus members of Living Math Forum. She wrote this to share there, and with a number of other homeshool groups. I asked if I could share it here.
I want to thank Sue for making her manuscript of Playing with
Math available, and I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed this
book. As someone who has my Master's in education, I've read my
share of education books, both assigned and because I am completely
passionate about the subject. I can say without hesitation that this
book is truly special. Sue, you've really got something great here!
What a lovely, comfortable book, a relaxing conversation between
people from all math backgrounds, that you can read and let sink in.
Or, you can follow the sparks it ignites. Or, you can wonder,
research and continue to spark. Or you can compile what works for
you and your kids from all of the anecdotes in the book and
reinvigorate or even, dare I say, redefine, math in your household
or classroom. This book has so many purposes and I truly wanted to
start reading it again as soon as I was finished (and I will ...
many times!). And it's the kind of book you will get more from every
time you read it.
Sue's writing style sets a comfortable dialogue between the author
and the reader right away. It's not preachy, judgy or really
particularly instructive. Instead, it's a party of anecdotes that
got this reader excited about not just doing math with kids, but
playing with math myself, just for the fun of it. They say that the
best education is when you focus on yourself instead of your child,
so you can be the example, and this book inspires me to do just
Playing with Math also helped me understand math circles like
no other. I've looked at various writings on math circles and none
have spoken to me the way Playing with Math has. The balance
of accessibility without talking down just works for me. It's not
trying to be didactic, but the mix of many experiences allows me to
construct my own ideas of what math circles can mean in my own life
Oh, and I literally had web searches open as I was reading this,
searching for things like "Waldorf coloring math facts" and "math
olympiad problems" so as I read, I amassed a bunch of resources to
get started at the same time. The Moscow Puzzles book is
available on Amazon for $3.99 prime!
The other thing that strikes me is that the different examples
within a topic, while all demonstrating the main theme of "playing
with math," have varied enough approaches that there really is
something for everyone to glean. For example, in the math circles
section, two of them definitely resonated more for me than the
others, even though there was valuable information in all of them,
and I'm sure I will pick and choose different elements from all of
them that work for me. The Homeschooling section's wonderful blend
of anecdotes, advice and examples did the same.
I love that there are example problems and math games and activities
sprinkled throughout the book. What a perfect idea, since everything
about the book is so inspirational ... you can start learning right
The "Passionate Teachers" section literally made me respect teachers
more. I love knowing that there are still teachers willing to step
out of the box and do what is right for the kids. Reading this
section reinforces that creativity is alive and well in the
classrooms ... I hope more and more teachers can be inspired by this
As if all of this wasn't enough, the "Resources" and "Conclusion"
sections are filled with more places to find ideas, both online and
in books, tips for mentoring, how to support girls, and so much
more. This books is truly one of the most well-rounded I have read.
While it still sticks to the theme and doesn't try to be everything
mathematics, it thoroughly explores "playing with math" and what it
can mean to the reader on many different levels.
It is evident how much work and passion went into the making of this
book. What an amazing collaboration! Thanks again Sue, and everyone
M.Ed. and Founder of LACI Homeschoolers' Association