Author Archives: Elizabeth Gamino

Math is Fun, Math is Important, Math is Beautiful

You is kind, you is smart, you is important,” is a quote from the movie “The Help,” and it provides us with a valuable message.  It taught us that we are valued, worthy and loveable. These three simple statements may influence us to reflect on the way we perceive ourselves and those around us. These three statements, nine words, can change mindsets.

What if this quote was rewritten to state Math is fun, math is important, math is beautiful? Could these three simple statements start a movement to change children’s and adults’ mindsets that math is something important to understand and know and that all should value?  Could this diminish the “I hate math” or “I am not good at math” statements that are commonly stated by many people, which includes but is not limited to, teachers, nurses, executive directors, cashiers, and sales personnel? Would it change the conversations that some adults have with children? We would no longer hear comments such as “It’s okay, I wasn’t good at math either” or “I know, math was hard for me too!” which I’ve often heard, expressed by parents, teachers, and caregivers.

“Math is fun.” How many of us can readily say this? How many of us feel this way towards math?  Do you enjoy a good game of cards or playing board games? Games like Chutes and Ladders, Uno, Blackjack, Yahtzee, and Monopoly all promote mathematical thinking. Did you know completing puzzles or building with Legos, playing Battleship, Tetris, or Minecraft improves spatial reasoning? When adults and children engage in play through activities that promote math concepts, they don’t even realize the math they are engaging in and learning.

“Math is important” Math is needed to navigate our daily tasks, such as calculating our finances, maintaining a budget, cooking, shopping, constructing (DIY projects), estimating time and distance. Mathematics promotes qualities such as abstract and spatial thinking, problem-solving skills, critical thinking, ability to solve problems in various ways, making generalizations, communicating effectively (i.e., verbally, via representations and in writing), and analytic and reasoning skills.

Math is beautiful” The beauty of mathematics can be seen almost everywhere in our world. In nature, the golden ratio can be seen in the petals of flowers or in the flower head of a sunflower (my favorite), sea shells, pineapples, cauliflowers, hurricanes and spiral galaxies such as the Milky Way. I can find the aesthetic beauty of mathematics in many local architectural buildings, such as Fresno City Hall, Edison High School, Saint John’s Cathedral, and the Meux Home. Around the world, there is the Taj Mahal, Chichen Itza, and the Parthenon. Lest we not forget the arts, you can find the Golden Ratio in DaVinci’s Mona Lisa, Picasso’s use of geometry in his cubism period, Cezanne’s use of cubes, angles, spheres and cones, Escher’s mathematical illusions, and Aldo Spizzichino’s computer graphics.

Math is more than equations, formulas, expressions, linear functions, theorems, and proofs. Math makes up our world in ways we often do not think about because it is a natural part of our being.

Math is fun, math is important, math is beautiful.”

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Let Me Play

As many of you know for the last year, I have had the privilege of working with preschool-aged children on a weekly basis, watching them, interacting with them, and listening to them as they engaged in mathematical and other content daily.  As I reflect on my year spent with seventy-seven little ones, I am overcome… Continue Reading

Math Awareness Month

Did you know that April is Mathematics and Statistics Awareness Month? If not, you’re not alone. Much to my surprise, when I polled my friends, some of whom are math teachers, they didn’t know either. But they definitely knew about Read Across America Day on March 2nd. Why is that? Why is it that everything… Continue Reading

In Their Voice (Part 4)

Angelina Parades is the teacher of a 3-year-old class at Head Start in the Central Valley of California. She began her career in early learning education as a high school senior 11 years ago. She is dedicated to the parents and children whom she serves and is passionate about the work she does. Her dedication… Continue Reading

Changing the Narrative

Many times, we hear phrases from teachers and students such as “I am not good at math.” “Math was (is) a very hard subject for me.” It has become socially acceptable to say, “I hate math!” Why do some people have these limiting beliefs of themselves as doers or learners of mathematics? For the past… Continue Reading

The Gift of Play

“When you ask me what I did in school today and I say, ‘I just played,’ please don’t misunderstand me. For you see, I am learning as I play. I am learning to enjoy and be successful in my work. Today I am a child and my work is play.” – Anita Wadley, 1974. The… Continue Reading

Quotes to Spark Conversations

In early September AIMS had the honor of hosting a breakfast for the teachers we are working with this year. It was a time to come together, form friendships, share our goals for the year, and, of course, engage in some mathematics. As an ice-breaker we had the teachers engage in an activity called “Chalk… Continue Reading

Thinking About Children’s Thinking

Over the last month, for the start of the school year, my AIMS Center colleagues and I have had the privilege of working with teachers and observing the interactions of 3- and 4-year-old children, something our team has done for the last two years. As we observe these little ones, we have learned how to… Continue Reading

Tell Me How You Really Feel About Math

A few weeks ago, I had the honor of presenting to over 300 early learning professionals on what is really becoming my passion, the idea of mathematizing children’s environments and making connections between the math they experience while at school and the math that they experience in their daily lives. Though I would love to… Continue Reading