Book Review: Math Games With Bad Drawings

I’m not a math teacher but I do enjoy learning about different facets of mathematics, if only to be able to help my students when needed. And I enjoy games, particularly ones that challenge my learners.

So Ben Orlin’s Math Games With Bad Drawings is a treasure box of ideas, packed with 75 (and 1/4) challenges and games that are infused with math concepts but can be played mostly with paper, pencil and sometimes, dice (plus, a few need a few more pieces, easily found).

Orlin is a master at deceptively simple comics that are funny but insightful and are perfectly paired here with his sharing of the math games, and how to play them, along with variations and the deeper questions of why each game matters for mathematical thinking. He also gives fascinating histories of who invented the games and why. Plus, he’s¬† just a very funny writing.

Here’s one called Taxman. Here’s another called 101 You’re Out.

I’ve dog-eared about ten different games here that I know I can easily bring into my classroom for quick paired or group activities that will spark some interesting thinking of sixth graders. I highly recommend Math Games With Bad Drawings¬†and another book of his — Math With Bad Drawings — is one I lent to my math colleague and then never saw it again (so, I know, it connected).

Peace (and fun),
Kevin

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