One of the thing that confuses me is the abundance of worksheets available online that offer “minecraft math” but are focused on adding a few minecraft pictures to normal addition or multiplication questions. It seems so strange, to think that pictures alone of the wonderful mathematical place like minecraft would somehow make the math special. Why not encourage the kids to explore the math within minecraft itself? And so I continue my minecraft math series, this time with a printable pdf worksheet you can download! Today my topic is minecraft railways. There are two main types of tracks. One of them is the basic track made from six iron ingots…


3D tic tac toe and spatial reasoning
I pulled out the 3D tic tac toe frame again. Our frame has three layers of wood with indents to hold marbles. The kids and I played with it in a couple of ways. We played the game, but then we made patterns with the different colored marbles on it. I pulled out some paper and we experimented with drawing the board. My six year old started by drawing the frame, but then switched to drawing the three separate platforms side by side. He made a couple of different patterns. The one I’m showing here involves a blue triangle being filled different ways, with two white marbles next to it,…

Lego math: multiples and factors.
My middle child has just been starting on understanding multiples. He’s been telling me little things like that it would take twelve of something to make four of something else in minecraft, and doing little calculations like that in his head. I want to encourage it and today I decided we’d use some lego to see if we could discuss multiplication that way. To start with, I made some stacks of different lego pieces. The easy stacks were of pieces three, four, six, eight and ten bumps long. I wanted some odd numbers so I made stacks for five and seven by putting together pieces three and two long, and…

homeschooling three children – and another math activity
Homeschooling multiple ages of children at the same time poses certain challenges. Do you get curriculums so each child is working through at a different level appropriate to his or her age but independent of his or her siblings? Do you create your own curriculum to teach all three children at the same time? Do you hold the oldest back slightly or push the younger ones forward slightly to get them all working together? Or do you, like I do, use some curriculum seperately for some subjects, and then other resources to teach subjects together? Today I found an activity to work with all three. My inspiration was the Right…

Card game for practicing multiplication and order of operation
“Mom, let’s play more math games,” my eight year old said and I wondered what games to suggest that would pose some level of challenge to him. I came up with the basis for this game and he helped me refine the rules. Make the Number Game Rules Setup: – Use number cards, no face cards. – Choose a target number. I recommend 100 as a starting number. – Each player draws 7 cards. At the end of every turn, drawup till you have seven cards. – Players may have a piece of scrap paper for scribbling down ideas while they play. – Players have to try to use the…

More Minecraft Math: sugarcane farms
Today for math the boys built minecraft sugar farms. My five year old built one first, a basic strip of three water squares with sugarcane on each side. Afterwards I asked him some questions about the sugarcane. How many sugarcane pieces could he harvest? (It would depend, he pointed out, how long he waited. He could get six if he cut it once it grew two two squares tall, or twelve if he waited until it grew to full height.) What is the ratio of water to sugarcane? What fraction of the blocks used is growing sugarcane? What if we put sugarcane at the end of the water strip as…

Minecraft math
Minecraft is an easy place for math practice. Kids see counting by 3s (when making paper), 4s (making planks), and 6s (when making slabs). They divide stacks of up to 64 items in two regularily. There is plenty of math. Can Minecraft be used for exploring exponents and negative exponents? My eight year old and I wanted to look at that. I proposed that the relationship between wood logs and sticks is 4² because one log makes four planks and one plank makes four sticks, but my son corrected me. It takes two planks together to make four sticks. So then we have 8 sticks instead of 16. Positive Exponents…

A Logical Graph Game
We made a new logic game. In it we drew a graph using circles and lines, and throughout this blog entry when I refer to a graph I’m refering to the type of mathematical graph used in graph theory, representing objects and the links between them, though you don’t need to know anything about graph theory to play the game. These are the rules: You have to put Xs and Os into the circles and the lines told the relationship between two connected circles. If the line has a heart next to it then the connected circles had the same symbol in it. If the line did not have a heart then the symbols were…

Four Preschool Math Games
My almost three year old is at the fun point where she’s interested in numbers. She’ll count to herself “1, 2, 8, 10.” She’ll identify when there are two of something. She’ll put on a watch and wear it around all day announcing regularily that it is 9:00, and suddenly suprise herself by recognizing the number 1 written on the watch. She’ll roll dice and announce numbers (occasionally correct but more often wrong). She knows numbers are out there she just doesn’t understand exactly what they are. There are (free, noequipment needed) games I played with my older children that I want to play again with my youngest child. 1) There…

Nonstandard units of measurement in children’s books.
How do you measure distance or time? I’ve just found two delightful children’s books that include measurements of time and distance. Carry Me, Mama tells the story of an Inuit girl walking progressively longer distances. She walks as far as one can throw a stone, then as far as the rabbits run, as far as the bear wanders, etc. After reading the book we talked about distances. We don’t know much about the distances that different animals travel but we talked about how far we’ve seen cats roam. Then I suggested a different location – what if we were at grandma’s house, where could we walk to from there if…