Enrichment for Gifted Children in Math
Though a somewhat controversial theory, the teaching of mathematics in the United States is often criticized as being “a mile wide and an inch deep.”
Students who are gifted or have strengths in mathematics benefit greatly by exploring math concepts in-depth. Listed below are some of my favorite publishers of materials that offer great math enrichment. Included here are higher-level thinking opportunities that are challenging and exciting for these students. Your students will love these!
AIMS Education Foundation
This publisher produces K-10 activity resource books and a magazine/newsletter. I especially like the Historical Connections books. These are geared to grades 4-10 and come in three volumes that connect history and mathematics. Each of three volumes explores the lives of 30 mathematicians. Ready-to-use classroom activities are provided that help students “discover” the theories and work of each mathematician.
Continental Mathematics League, Inc.
This is actually a competition, but you don’t have to participate to benefit from this organization. Instead, you can buy books that contain some of the best math questions that are used in the competition. These books can be purchased for grades 2-3, 4-6, and 7-9. Each book contains individual problems that will really make your students think. It is extremely helpful for students to talk through the different strategies used in solving the problems, as there are often many different possible approaches.
Once you arrive at this site, click on “Creative Publications.”
This publisher includes a wide variety of books that use manipulatives and contain critical thinking activities. Some of my favorites are Think About It!, which is a collection of daily and weekly math challenges for grades 4-8 and The Problem Solver Binders, which teaches specific strategies for solving problems in grades 1-8
The Critical Thinking Co.
You will find that the Mind Benders, designed for pre-K – 8+ is very challenging. While this logic-problem series is not strictly math, it involves many of the same skills used in math, such as determining what information is relevant in a problem and the logic of solving a problem.
This K-12 math catalog is filled with all kinds of wonderful products from a variety of publishers. There are basic manipulative materials, games, books, and posters. I especially like their Mental Math books for primary, middle grades, and junior high. These books teach students strategies for doing amazing calculations in their heads. There are also many enrichment books that use common items like dominoes, dice, and playing cards. These books provide inexpensive activities that will extend the math curriculum in exciting ways. Books using tessellations and paper folding provide enrichment in geometry and the power of patterns.
Interact publishes fun-filled simulations using integrated theme units. There are math units for grades 1-12 where students take on a variety of “real-life” roles, acting out scenarios and solving problems. Every teacher I know who has used units from Interact has nothing but praise for them. Units cover all aspects of math, including basic facts, probability, geometry, algebra, problem solving, etc.
Mathematics Pentathlon Program
Pentathlon games are open-ended, higher-level thinking games that involve math and general problem-solving. The games are used in competitions, but may also be used by themselves as extensions in the classroom. Games are divided into divisions of grades K-1, 2-3, 4-5, and 6-7. Like chess or Scrabble, the games can be played at different levels from just making basic moves to incorporating complex strategies. The games are expensive, but excellent.
Prufrock Press Inc.
When arriving at this website, click on “Activity Books and Lessons for Teaching Gifted Children,” then “Mathematics.” You will find a wide variety of books for grades K-12 that are filled with enriching extensions to the math curriculum.
Sunshine Math Superstars
Published by the Panhandle Area Educational Consortium in Florida, this K-8 program is designed as enrichment for self-directed learners in mathematics. These weekly problem-solving activities can be managed by trained parents or by classroom teachers.