YMB 18 Making Math Enjoyable… Really! A Conversation with Kate Snow

We know that there must be more to math than just slogging through page after page of multiplication facts, but what? Last time I checked, wondering at geometrical patterns in God’s creation was not in the scope and sequence of my math curriculum, but it’s something I long for my kids to have opportunities to do.

When can I fit in a math read-aloud or few rounds of one of the logic games collecting dust on the shelf? What about hands-on exploration with big math ideas like probability, estimation, or measurement?  How can I make time for this kind of math in my homeschool?

Making Math Enjoyable... Really: A Your Morning Basket Conversation with Kate Snow
We are joined on this episode of the podcast by Kate Snow of Kate’s Homeschool Math Help. Kate explains that, while skill work in math is certainly important, it really is okay sometimes to play with math without a lesson plan and Morning Time is the place to do just that.

By weaving math explorations, stories, and games into Morning Time, we can put our kids in touch with big ideas and expose them to the beauty found in mathematics.

Listen to the podcast

The Basket Bonus for today’s show is printable of an easy math game for multiple age kids from Kate. Enter your email to get access to the Basket Bonus library with this and other great Your Morning Basket printables.

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Basket Bonus Episode 18

Check out this Math Fact Yahtzee by Kate Snow!



Links and resources from today’s show:

 Bedtime Math: A Fun Excuse to Stay Up Late (Bedtime Math Series) Bedtime Math: This Time It’s Personal (Bedtime Math Series) Bedtime Math: The Truth Comes Out (Bedtime Math Series) The Adventures of Penrose the Mathematical Cat Further Adventures of Penrose the Mathematical Cat Puzzles from Penrose the Mathematical Cat The Number Devil: A Mathematical Adventure The History of Counting How Much Is a Million? 20th Anniversary Edition (Reading Rainbow Books) Let’s Play Math: How Families Can Learn Math Together and Enjoy It ThinkFun Rush Hour Fat Brain Toy Co AnimaLogic Hasbro Yahtzee Learning Resources Wooden Pattern Blocks (Set of 250) Unifix Cubes (100 count) DIDAX DD-22200 Ten Frame Trains


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  • Sarah M says:

    Oh, this podcast was SO wonderful. I’ve been thinking of Beast Academy for my son next year, actually! I was on the phone with another homeschooling mom friend and I had just heard the beginning of this podcast, and we started talking about math and I had this great podcast to pass along to her. LOVED the links this time, too!

    • Pam Barnhill says:

      So glad you found it helpful Sarah!

    • Tabitha Teeter says:

      Are you going to use it as your main math curriculum or as a supplement? I’m just now learning about it, but I’ve heard Beast Academy mentioned once before. Thanks.

  • Melina says:

    I just so enjoy your wonderful podcast- Pam, you are a treasure! This was especially helpful. Great resource and guest!

  • Tania says:

    This episode was so good. I have wanted to incorporate math in our circle time (I learned about morning time from Brandy so I’ve been calling it circle time because she does) but couldn’t quite get it working well. I even put it on my circle time schedule as “living math Monday.” We would do it first thing of the week so that I didn’t chicken out and skip it. We did a couple of fun things like draw a map of the outside of our house, estimating how many feet each wall was by counting how many of my steps it took to walk each wall, and then adding up to find the perimeter. The kids all really enjoyed this because we were outside and it was like a game. But since then I’ve really struggled figuring out how to combine math when my children are in 4th, 2nd, and 1st grade and are at different stages in the math skills learned. This episode has given me more ways to think about combining math, and, more importantly, more ways of cultivating wonder in math. I loved it! So timely. Thank you so much.

  • Cassie W. says:

    Any suggestions for older students (I have an almost 12 and a 15 year old boys) for math morning time resources?

    • Kate Snow says:

      Great question, Cassie! Here are a few possibilities:

      1. Solve logic puzzles together. Grab a book of Sudoku or Boris Kordemsky’s “The Moscow Puzzles” and start each morning by trying to solve a puzzle or brain-teaser together. (Or, if your kids like to compete, make a copy of a puzzle for each of them and let them race each other.)

      2. Delve into the history of math with a read-aloud. There are some great popular math books for adults out there that make good read-alouds for older kids. One I really enjoyed is “Fermat’s Enigma,” by Simon Singh, a gripping story of how Fermat’s last theorem was finally solved over the course of centuries. If you go this route, don’t worry about understanding every single mathematical point in the book, but just enjoy the story and the human blood, sweat, and tears that go into big discoveries.

      3. Explore statistics. Kids need to understand charts, graphs, averages, medians, etc. as they prepare to be informed citizens and make real-life decisions. One simple way to add statistics to Morning Time is to look at a chart or graph from a newspaper or magazine and discuss what it shows. Or, you could do a read-aloud that helps make sense of data. “How Not to Be Wrong,” by Jordan Ellenberg, and “A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper,” by John Allen Paulos, would both be great for this (but keep an eye out on how appropriate the content is for your kids–there may be a couple sections you’d want to skip).

  • Monica says:

    Fantastic!! Pam, you find the best guests. I’ve been doing Morning Time for 5 years now, and I learn something new each episode. Thank you.

  • Yvonne says:

    This was a FABULOUS episode with so many wonderful suggestions that were new to me! I would love the transcript for this episode – I think I will be listening to it again and writing down all the great suggestions. Thank you too for asking for the specifics – each time I was thinking “I would love a specific example or idea” you asked for it and her answers helped me so much!

    • Pam Barnhill says:

      Yvonne — Transcripts are something we are looking into for the future (and will do back episodes if possible).

  • Shannon Cook says:


    This is the first of your podcasts I’ve had a chance to hear, and it was wonderful! I have now gone back and listened to several back episodes, and they have been such an inspiration and help to me. We have been doing and loving morning time for almost 10 years now, and your podcasts have given me some great ideas to add variety to what we already do.

    The only math we’ve ever done during morning time is opening up a math read aloud. I can’t wait to incorporate your fun, hands-on activities!

    Thank you both for the time and effort that you put into this podcast.


  • Molly E. says:

    Loved this one. I love all your podcasts but this one really stands out. It had me thinking about math in a brand new way and I am actually excited to explore math with my kids now! Ha! I have never been interested in math and it seems like my brain doesn’t “speak math” past a certain level. Now I am eager to dive in to learning using some of the resources you recommended. I wasn’t sure how to sneak math in to morning time other than math facts so, thank you for the help! 🙂

  • Caroline says:

    Thank you for this podcast!! I am so excited to add some fun math into our Morning Time Loop (again, thank you for the loop schedule!!). I never knew math could be so fun! I have a full blown phobia of math that I am trying desperately not to infect my kids with. I have gained so much from every podcast you have done, keep up the AMAZING work!!! 🙂

  • Amy Marie says:

    Loved this!!! Thank you!

  • Erin Gray says:

    You talked about exploring tessellations. 360 degrees is the magic number to help move to deeper concepts. If your shapes have angles that can be combined to form 360 degrees you can tile a surface with no gaps or overlaps. You can formally measure angles or use the angles you know to find the ones you don’t know. An important AHA! is that angle measurements are additive. If 6 equal triangle angles surround a point (a full turn) 360/6= 60. You can use the benchmark angles like a right angle(90), a straight angle (180), or a full turn (360) to deduce the angles of all your patterns blocks 🙂

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