Monday, August 5, 2013

Resource Spotlight: Mixing in Math

Almost a year ago, I included Mixing in Math in a post listing where I get my program inspiration. I still count Mixing in Math as one of my top resources for the math component of my STEAM programs and services, and I wanted to highlight some of the great content they offer that may help you to STEAM, too.

Mixing in Math is an initiative from TERC, a Cambridge, MA-based non-profit center for math and science education. Part of their core philosophy is that "daily life is full of opportunities to explore math," and that holds true for all ages of people. As a result, Mixing in Math's resources work great with school-age children specifically, although there are many preschool applications. Mixing in Math boasts a number of projects and resources to help educators, caregivers, and librarians turn these daily math exploration opportunities into meaningful math learning through fun games and activities.

Some of my favorite resources available from Mixing in Math:
  • Monthly calendars -- These calendars, with general monthly themes like "weather," "nutrition," and "poetry," can be used in a number of ways. They are printable, so librarians can share them directly with families. They are also a great place to find simple ideas for math activities to add at the beginning or end of a program. Calendars are available in English and Spanish.
  • Lots of activities -- These activities share ideas for math concept learning with step-by-step instructions. Their "Height Museum" is a terrific preschool measuring activity; the "So Sweet" experiment would be a hit science-experiment-and-math activity with school-age kids. These activities are available in English and Spanish.
  • Newsletter -- Want tons of ideas for simple math activities delivered to your e-mail monthly? Then subscribe to the newsletter. I always find useful activity ideas.
  • Printable Posters -- These posters pose questions about the animal kingdom, space, and creativity, and they encourage kids to use library resources to find answers to mathematical questions like "How many giant pandas live in the wild?" Math and suggested use of print and electronic resources? Love it.
  • An archived training webinar -- This hour-long archived webinar perfectly blends the motivations behind Mixing in Math with practical activity and program ideas--both active and passive--that work well in libraries. I left the original webinar with tons of ideas for mixing in math at my library, and the webinar content definitely holds up.
  • Food Fights, Puzzles, and Hideouts -- This book from Mixing in Math and Tumblehome Learning combines some tried-and-true older activities with tons of new games and projects developed just for the book. The content includes games, projects and crafts, food activities, group activities, and "Anytime, Anywhere" activities as well as listings of activity ideas by month. The back of the book also features information on how the different activities fit in with Common Core standards across K-5. This resource would make a great addition to non-circulating professional collections as well as homeschooler or teacher resource circulating collections.

Essentially, Mixing in Math exists to help make clearer and more impactful the sorts of math-rich activities we already do; it helps us adults be more intentional in developing kids' math skills through our interactions with them. Does that sound familiar? I think librarians can draw a strong parallel between ECRR for early literacy and Mixing in Math for math: both initiatives offer practitioners ideas for maximizing the skills-development impact of the activities we do with kids, and both equip practitioners to impart tips and sound bites about the importance of these skills to caregivers.

Have you used Mixing in Math? I'd love to hear how you get this great STEAM resource to work for you.

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