Nontransitive Dice are pretty amazing things. Basically, in these dice, when they are set up pairwise, one die will beat another 2/3 of the time. However, there’s no “best” die. Even though A beats B and B beats C, A DOES NOT BEAT C. I bought a wonderful pair of Efron’s Dice from the Museum of Math. For the math nerd, you really have to get a set. They’re amazingly interesting and they really teach kids about probability in a wonderful way!
Without going into all the details, normally, when you play dice you assume transitivity:
- If B beats A
- And if C beats B
- Then C beats A
Which sounds obvious; however, it’s not. take, for example, the game rock, paper, scissors.
Rock-Paper-Scissors from Wikipedia
In this case:
- Rock beats scissors
- Scissors beats paper
- But rock DOES NOT BEAT paper.
We found it fun to have some reference materials for the kids to look at while they eat. Some of our favorites are: Addition and Subtraction, Presidents, sight words, map of the world, and map of the US . It’s not quite a placemat but I’ve found the the most useful thing for teaching kids basic math is a Hundreds Board (get 10 for $5 here).
Hard Elementary School Math is a great book covering a wide variety of topics that are appropriate for elementary school. A Mathematician’s Lament (free abridged version here) is a great book on math education — focusing on how kids should be learning math. For those of you that want a more “adult” basic math book, check out , Steve Strotgatz’s Joy of X is quite good — you can also read a number of his articles in the New York Times. Bedtime Math is also fun — we like it but it’s especially for parents who aren’t so into math.
We enjoyed the Montessori math games from Enoki. There are some other good math drill games like Math Bingo, Madagascar Math Ops and YodelOh. But we don’t play those nearly as much as Dragonbox.
Ari learns to read with Learn with Homer which is a pretty awesome interactive reading app. We also found it fun to make our own “word wall” with magnets.
For the preschool set, we’ve become a fan of the Monkey Preschool series.
Square One is a math based TV show for 8-12 year olds created by the Sesame Workshop. I remember it fondly as one of my favorite educational programs as a kid. I was able to find some episodes online recently.