I love maths and mathematical concepts but I totally get that many people and children have the opposite view. As a primary school teacher, hearing the words I can’t do maths from children, or I wasn’t good at maths from adults is very disheartening. The truth is, anyone can ‘do maths’ and understand mathematical concepts, they just need to be explained in a way that makes it relevant to the learner.
Readers of The School of Numbers will find themselves guided by a crew of mathematical astronauts through three terms of maths lessons. The three terms each have a specific focus; numbers is handled in term one, shape and space in term two and maths in the real world in term three. Readers can dip in and out of the book as per their learning needs using the clear contents page that numbers lessons and gives a clear focus for what learning will be found on the pages. Topics range from the more simple concepts of addition and subtraction, to fractions and percentages, to the mind boggling topics of probability and Pi (the number variety not the pastry).
The forty lessons are each presented over a double page, with the exception of 3D shapes and Transformation which share a double page. Each lesson is ‘taught’ by one of the crew of the Starship Infinity. Get ready to learn with Adam Up, Lois Carmen Denominator, Al Jabra and the rest of the gang. Lessons are easy to follow and include worked through examples that are clear and easy to follow. The illustrations are colourful and fun and genuinely make things feel really enjoyable. The activities that readers are tasked to do are relevant to the learning within the lesson and answers are provided at the bottom of the page (upside down of course). I’m big into making connections to maths in our everyday lives and this book does a really good job of linking the maths concepts to real life.
As well as lessons that explain the fundamental concepts, tricks and tips often crop up which will fascinate readers. These include sneaky ways to calculate times table facts and how to easily find triangular numbers. There are also magic number tricks to perform to amaze your friends, your parents and even your teachers.
This book covers such a wide range of topics that it is very difficult to say an exact age that it would be appropriate for. All children learn at different rates and will master some topics more quickly than others. Younger children would perhaps benefit from many of the number lessons, but concepts to do with measurements of a circle and types of triangles would be beyond them. The opposite is true for older readers who would find challenge in the lessons on speed, distance and time and exploring powers, but would find some of the other lessons too simplistic.
The book would be best used as a means of re-enforcing school learning and supplementing knowledge or as a pre-cursor for learning at school. This book will not meet the needs of all children, but for those who enjoy learning through written examples then this is a perfect tool to support learning.
Recommended for 8+.