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Math With a Laugh...Series(ly)

The age-old question: What do you get when you cross a long-time mathematics teacher and her former student-now-turned-professional comedian? And the new answer: A three-volume series of books known as the Math With a Laugh."

The writing process was clear. Faye Nisonoff Ruopp would write a variety of mathematics problems that would prompt thinking and skill/concept development....and Paula Poundstone would embed the problem in a humorous context.

The three volumes in the series are:

  • The Sticky Problem of Parallelogram Pancakes for grades 4-5
  • Venn Can We Be Friends? for grades 6-7
  • You Can't Keep Slope Down for grades 8-9
The suggested grades are deceptive, as in my review, I found most of the problems in each volume could be used in any grade level 6-14...given the appropriate audience and a little tweaking.

The problem sets are categorized in line with the NCTM Content Standards of (1) Number Sense/ Operations, (2) Patterns and Algebra, (3) Geometry, (4) Measurement, and (5) Data Analysis. Also, to further help mathematics teachers, a set of Teacher Notes (with discussions of solutions) has been included.

My suggestion: Try some of the problems with your students. Do the students find them humorous? Do the problems get at important mathematics? And remember the authors advice: "These problems are intentionally silly and humorous so students can laugh and be serious about the mathematics, all at the same time!"