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Math Recess: Playful Learning in an Age of Disruption

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“Let’s play math!”

In the theme of recess, where a treasure chest of balls, ropes, and toys would be kept for children to play with, this book holds a deep and imaginative collection of fun mathematical ideas, puzzles, and problems. Written for anyone interested in or actively engaged in schools—parents, teachers, administrators, school board members—Math Recess by Sunil Singh and Chris Brownell shows math as a playful, fun, and wonderfully human activity that everyone can enjoy… for a lifetime!

Math Recess is a breathless ride!” —Kimberly Morrow-Leong, NCSM 2018 program chair, author of Mathematize It! 

“I absolutely adore this book. With clarity, power, and exuberance, Chris and Sunil spell out and make concrete what it means to play.” —James Tanton, PhD, founder of the Global Math Project

“Here’s to the dabblers. The tinkerers. The fantasizers. The curious ones who believe math education can and should be about play. Here’s to the humanity of friendships that lead to mathematical love. Sunil Singh and Christopher S. Brownell are bold. Go, be bold with them. All are welcome.” —Mary Kemper, president of the Texas Association of Supervisors of Mathematics

“Through rich storytelling and powerful examples, Singh and Brownell make the clear case for upending math education as we know it and replacing it with an ideology we can all embrace: Mathematics is and can be deeply learned through play.” —Denis Sheeran, author, Instant Relevance and Hacking Math

“Disruption begins with ‘Re.’ Rather than trying to fix a broken system, it is time to reimagine a new one, and Math Recess completely satisfies my appetite for destruction.” —Brian Aspinall, educator, author of Code Breaker and Block Breaker

Kindle Edition

Published March 25, 2019

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About the author

Sunil Singh

12 books2 followers

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5 stars
36 (39%)
4 stars
35 (38%)
3 stars
11 (12%)
2 stars
8 (8%)
1 star
1 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 11 of 11 reviews
1 review
September 5, 2019
Yet another self-congratulatory book by writers who insist they are out to change the complex world of mathematics education. This book has many of the old tropes that you can find in almost every book about mathematics teaching for the past 50 years, which means you can skip over the first quarter of the book. There are some interesting activities, but they are never really covered with any kind of depth. For example, the "Tax Collector" Game has been around for ages (it's been called 'The Factor Game" and "Dr. Factor,") and it has lots of interesting mathematics embedded in it, but none of this is brought up in the description. Instead, we are given a confusing description of the game, and nothing more.

I also think the layout of the book is needlessly jumbled and unnerving. Self-serving Tweets from the authors are interspersed throughout the pages, interrupting whatever half-composed thoughts are being put forward. Add to that the low-quality graphics and the inappropriate or anodyne quotations ("You might say I'm a dreamer" by John Lennon is one such example), and you have a real waste of perfectly good trees.

There are much better books out there about mathematics and math education. Skip this one.
Profile Image for Nick Johnson.
1 review
April 9, 2019
Traditional math education has harmed far too many students. In his groundbreaking Mathematician’s Lament Paul Lockhart said “I don’t see how it’s doing society any good to have its members walking around with vague memories of algebraic formulas and geometric diagrams, and clear memories of hating them.” Sunil says that the word here that is so undervalued in evaluating the currency of mathematic is memories. He is so right! Math can be a rich, joyful, playful, surprising, frustrating, humbling, and creative art, but far too few people ever get to experience math in this playful and delightful manner. And yes, one of the adjectives used to describe mathematics is frustrating, but this frustration can be joyful too and can then turn into funstration;)
It doesn’t matter what your background is in mathematics or how much mathematical knowledge you have. Sunil and Chris have written a perfect book to allow you to fall into the portal of mathematical play. There is a plethora of resources sprinkled throughout this book to help you get some scrapes and bruises on the math playground and then to let yourself fall down the Math Rabbit Hole!
Profile Image for Danielle.
146 reviews2 followers
October 29, 2019
I enjoyed this book and found it useful as research for my teaching. I understand that a lot of these books have several of the same ideas over and over, but this one had a couple of new and interesting ones. However, I have to say that the graphics and editing are just plain awful, I cannot understand why they decided to do things the way they did.
Profile Image for Lindsey.
139 reviews3 followers
November 28, 2020
Wonderful book that ignites playful curiosity and left me with more mathematical wonders than I started with! I highly recommend to parents and teachers who wish to make math fun and mysterious! I only wish all of the extra links were working...perhaps in the second edition this will be fixed?
Profile Image for Skylar Primm.
435 reviews8 followers
November 28, 2020
It’s… fine. I will likely use this book to reference math games in the future, but beyond that I don’t feel like I gained much that I couldn’t have found elsewhere.

(Also, when it takes me almost literally a year to read a book, that’s not a great sign.)
3 reviews2 followers
May 28, 2019
It has some interesting ideas, and while I appreciate the central thesis of trying to make math fun, I don't think the book ever really coheres into a compelling vision for the classroom.
Profile Image for Michelle.
79 reviews20 followers
June 17, 2019
The editing and the graphics were not the best, but this teaching resource has a great message and great resources! Inspiring!
Profile Image for Pam.
3 reviews
July 29, 2019
Fantastic! I want to buy a copy for every math educator I know!!!
Profile Image for Jeremiah Moore.
30 reviews4 followers
May 12, 2020
Good for games

You will learn a lot about some deeper concepts in math. I appreciate the playfulness with math ideas and some cool ideas for math games.
Displaying 1 - 11 of 11 reviews

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