Image courtesy MathPickle.com, CC BY-NC-ND
I discovered MathPickle.com after purchasing Santorini, a board game created by Dr. Gordon Hamilton, mathematician, puzzle and game designer. Like any great game, Santorini teaches logic and problem-solving in a fun, engaging way. My 10-year-old son wished to play it again and again, instead of his schoolwork. He informed me that playing the game was so much better than doing his homework.
I hope my son knows that learning does not need to be dull like many of his homework assignments, that learning can be fun, like a game. We can and should derive joy from a well thought-out mathematical challenge.
MathPickle was based upon this idea. Hamilton started MathPickle as a way to instill the joy of problem-solving in students through games and puzzles. It is a website teachers can use to engage the whole spectrum of student ability.
Through the use of MathPickle’s curricular puzzles, games and mini-competitions, teachers can simultaneously teach curriculum to the students who need it, and deflect top students into tough problem solving activities. Hamilton explains that time spent solving puzzles is never wasted time, “because problem solving is at the heart of a quality mathematics education and the primary reason we teach it.”
MathPickle gives students a curricular unsolved puzzle from the last 150 years, and sets them up for both successes and failures as they attempt to solve each problem. Students build tenacity as they are challenged daily. As students are challenged, they learn to overcome the stigma of failure. This helps students better engage in mathematical challenges later.
Jennifer Bartlett, Principal of Mount View School, says that when her teachers used MathPickle, “Math wasn’t worksheets and drill; it was beautiful and colorful, fun and dynamic.”
MathPickle’s puzzles and games are visually compelling and challenging. They are organized by grade and subject. Each is designed for a 45-60 minute period.
Jason Kornoely, Fourth Grade teacher at Pine Ridge Elementary in Grand Rapids, Michigan, says that MathPickle puzzles are “being chosen as a free time activity by 9 and 10-year olds. If that isn’t testament to quality materials, I don’t know what is. It is definitely one of the highlights of my teaching career.”