A Maths Fairy Tale for Grade 2

May 12, 2016

A Maths FAiry Tale Mathspig

Once upon a time, Grade 2 students did very boring work in maths. And they had to do lots of tests too.


Sometimes evil witches wrote the test questions. These Year 2 (Grade 2) questions were very, very scary. Here is one of those very scary questions. It was so scary lots of people turned into angry birds when they saw this question. The angry birds tweeted that this question is ” too hard’. Tweet! Tweet! (The Telegraph , UK, 9 May, 2016)

A very wise old Mathspig worked out the answer.

X -19 +17 = 63

                X = 65

Mmmmm, this is a scary question for Grade 2. 

Many Grade 2 teachers are Wonderful Maths Wizards. They make maths magical and fun everyday. Students must sharpen their pencils and put on their wizards thinking hats to practise their maths. But maths can be magical and fun too. So here is:


by Mathspig

A Wonderful Maths Wizard teacher can read the story out loud and the little Grade 2 Maths Wizards can write down their answers.


Tooth Fairy Math Mathspig 1

Tooth Fairy Mathspig 2a

Printable Version below.

A Maths Fairy Tale 1

A Maths Fairy Tale 2

A Maths Fairy Tale 3



May 2, 2016

Mathspig Funny maths blogs

You will find the background pattern here.

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1 Header

The absolute delight of Spurious Correlations is its craziness. Tyler Vigen is studying law at Harvard Law School, but he puts together the most ridiculous data you can imagine to show the correlation between eg. Per capita cheese consumption AND the number of people who died by getting tangled in their bed sheets, people who drowned after falling out of a fishing boat AND the marriage ration Kentucky. Of course, what Tyler is demonstrating is the basic maths principle, mathspiggies, that correlation is not causation. Here is one of his fabulous graphs:

 1a Spurious Correlations Graph

Here is one graph from Spurious Correlati0ns (above) and the cover of Tyler’s New Book (below).

1b book cover

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 2. HeaderMath with Bad Drawings is run by Ben Orlin. He describes himself as ‘a math maths teacher in Birmingham, England. Before that, I taught in Oakland, California. I’ve taught (or am currently teaching!) every level of mathematics from ages 12 to 18.’

Not only is Ben’s humorous and fascinating take on maths interesting, his philosophy of life is worth a read too. e.g. We are all simultaneously experts and beginners, flaunting our talents while trying to cover our shortcomings the way an animal hides a wound.’

Here are two delightful examples of his maths with bad drawings:

2a. Maths with bad drawings2b. Maths with bad drawings

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3. Header

Mathspig has written about the fabulous What if? blog before.

Randall Munroe is a pro web cartoonist, maths nut and maths guru who answers crazy hypothetical questions using maths. His home website is xkcd.

His TED lecture is here.

Randall offers this warning to his KXCD blog: this comic occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors). Of course, this makes his blog even more interesting. Maths, profanity and silly humour. Bring it on.

How What if? blog asks and answers interesting questions:

What would happen if I dug straight down, at a speed of 1 foot per second? What would kill me first?

Could a bird deliver a standard 20″ New York-style cheese pizza in a box? And if so, what kind of bird would it take?

Here is one example:

3a What if ?

 3b What if?

And his book What if? Can be found here.

 3c What if? book cover

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4. Header

The joy of Yan’s One Minute Math blog is his eclectic collection of topics from . Kow-Cheong Yan is a Singapore-based teacher, math consultant, math blogger and maths book author (Grade 1- 6).


The Lighter Side of Innumeracy gives an insight into maths incompetence and superstition in Singapore. It shows that charlatans can still prey on the innumerate. And Yan’s critique of Drill-and-Kill texts promoted in Singapore is refreshing in an age where politicians are forever calling for Back-to-basics teaching methods for maths.


 But my favourite post on Yan’s blog is;

Mathematical Fiction is not optional. The number of novels using maths as a theme is inspiring especially with Yan adding a comment like this:

If you’re looking for math, women, sex, and back-stabbing, The Wild Numbers (Philibert Schogt) is a math melodrama unlikely to disappoint.


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5. header mathjokes4mathyfolks

Mathjokes4mathyfolks is run by my good math(s) friend Patrick Vennebush, who lives in Virginia with his wife, twin boys and his Golden Retriever Remy. He loves math(s), laughing and telling jokes. He also runs online projects for National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

5a. Patrick

Patrick believes math(s) should be fun and his blog includes jokes, problems and real-life challenges. His collection of jokes is published in a book and cover the gamete from cool to Dad-style jokes. Here’s an example:

5b book cover5c joke

Here are some examples from his blog:

Simultaneous Equations and Pizza

5d pizza problem

Angle of Opportunity looks at the angle a boy should pee in the toilet bowl without splatter fallout!!!!

5d pee angle

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6 header mathfail

Here is Math Fail on Facebook. And here is the Math Fail blog run by Self proclaimed Math Geek Mike, who explains that in addition to math fails, you will find a huge collection of geeky math jokes, interesting math facts, dumb math news, puzzles, speed math advice, math related comics, funny math pictures and more!! (It is not a Cheeseburger Fail blog.)

It is just a fun blog to explore. Here are some examples.

6a Math Fail

6b Math Fail

6c Math FAil

6d Math Fail

Who can be offended? They’re just numbers!!!!

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7. Header

Debbie O’Sullivan’s pinterest stream Math Puns/Jokes is worth a visit or two.



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8. header math cartoon

The Math Cartoons & Humor is pinterest run by Jiji the penguin. Actually, the penguin didn’t do it. Jiji the penguin is the mascot of STMath, a commercial education system that teaches math visually, and with minimum language, in the USA. Here are some examples of the humor: 8a



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9. header mathmashup

Mashup Math is mind blowing from its math philosophy to its eclectic approach. Anthony Persico runs MashUp Math. He has taught in NY, VA, and CO and runs a YouTube channel. He believes in inclusive math education,that all students learn math differently and that the one-size-fits-all approach is ineffective. The worksheets, teacher resources supplied via mathmashup are FREE!

9a Anthony pic

Here is the Facebook link to Mathmashup:

9b slope

This is a screen shot of  his roller coaster youtube clip on gradient or slope!!!

Here is his Mathsmashup You Tube channel (above), which is designed to help visual learners.


Here are some amazing sports stats (above) from the LA Times. Basketball Legend Kobe Bryant’s 30,699th and final field goal came from 19 feet with 31 seconds left against the Utah Jazz. This picture below shows every one of the 30,699 goals he scored. AMAAAAAAZING!

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10 header math antics

Math Antics Youtube Channel is run by, Rob and Jeremy, who are both funny and clear in their maths clips, which are directed mainly at Middle school. The youtube lessons are free, but Rob and Jeremy do charge teachers US$20 for a year of worksheets.

Their Math Antics website is here.

10a base 10

Base 10 video screen grab.

10b Order of Operation

Order of Operations Screen grab.


Could this be our new Maths Rock Star?

April 18, 2016

Could this be our new Maths Rock Star?

So Canada has a Prime Minister who not only understands Quantum Computers, he is really excited by the possibilities. And look at the blackboard behind him mathspiggies. That’s BIG TIME maths.

Grant Imahara (below), an engineering graduate, star of the TV show Myth Busters and more or less a Maths Rock Star himself, claims that bringing back esteem and awe for scientists and scientific studies will boost student interest in science and maths.


“We need rock stars. In the 60s astronauts were rock stars … Everyone wanted to be an astronaut” said Imahara.

(Behind America’s Decline in Math, Science and Technology, USNEWS, 13 Nov 2013)

Justin Trudeau may just fit the bill. Justin is 44 years old. He first studied English Literature, graduating with a BA. After completing his BEd he worked as a teacher in Vancouver, British Columbia.


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Here is Justin in front of the blackboard. Look at the blackboard content.

It’s Middle School Maths!!!

Contrary to the general belief that Bachelor of Arts students don’t get maths, Justin went back to university and studied engineering. Then he tackled a Master’s Degree in Environmental Geography. He used his public profile to advocate for various causes and acted in the 2007 TV miniseries The Great War. He was elected to the House of Commons in 2008 and won the elections as leader of the Liberal Party in 2015, becoming Canada’s second youngest Prime Minister ever.

So Justin Trudeau really puts the GLAM in GEEK. He is a well-read actor, environmentalist, maths-geek Prime Minister. And a boxer too. We could do with a few more poiticians like him!!!


Then, maybe, all elections could be settled like this in the future!! Ha!



April 14, 2016


Background pattern found here.


1. Creative blog Mathspig

Botanica Mathematica is a Mathematical knitting blog  with patterns included run by Dr Julia Collins and Haggis the Sheep.


1a Creative Mathspig

1b Creative mathspig


2. Creative blogs Mathspig


 The Mathematician’s Shirts! is a creative maths blog run by Julia Collins and Madeleine Shepherd. Yes! The same Julia Collins as above. It is a small collection of shirts but Big on imagination and this project is something middle school students could tackle using an old shirt. More on Flikr here.


 2a. Tending towards hyperbolic by Madeleine


3. Creative blog Mathspig

The Division by Zero blog is very mathsy. Seriously mathsy. It is run by David Richeson, Professor of Mathematics at Dickinson College. Even though it involves tertiary level maths it is full of curiosities about maths such as this gem below:

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I particularly loved the post about Gabriel’s Horn:

3a Creative Maths

And pictures of Gabriel’s horn made out of paper cones. Gabriel’s horn is the surface obtained by revolving the curve y = 1/x for x> or = 1/2 about the -axis. Mathematics professors ‘wow’ introductory calculus students by sharing its paradoxical properties: it has finite volume, but infinite surface area. As they say, “you can fill it with paint, but you can’t paint it.”


The Golden Arches get a working over as well. Are they based on a parabola, Catenary (strung up chain hanging under it’s own weight) or other. It turns out it is other … the Golden Arches fit an ellipse.

3b Macdonalds maths mathspig


4. Creative blog Mathspig

Visualising Math is a terrific Tumblr feed run by Monica Anuforo and Casey M. both college maths students from Minnesota, USA. I think Monic’a comments on the blog tell us all how important it is to engage Middle School students.


Monica Anuforo: Hello! I’m an 19 year old Nigerian-American female. Obviously, I’m a fan of mathematics. I was one of those people who were lucky enough to find out that MATH IS AWESOME as early as middle school as opposed to later in life.


4a Creative maths


The Tumblr feed is a fabulous collection of mathematical images including fractals, gifs and jokes. Some of these images (See below) could be drawn, coloured or constructed by Middle School students so they too can discover that maths is awesome!!!

4b Creative maths




5. Creative blogs Mathspig

Math for Lovers is an anonymous Tumblr feed run by Kcmr. It is an eclectic collection of maths art, gifs and jokes. While it hasn’t been updated for awhile the images are still worth exploring. Here are just two:

5a Creative Faig Ahmed

Faig Ahmed is an internationally recognized artist from Baku, Azerbaijan, who represented Azerbaijan at the Venice Biennale in 2007. He is well known for his conceptual works that utilize traditional decorative craft and the visual language of carpets into contemporary sculptural works of art.

5c Creative Cut and paste novel wall art

Cut and paste novel wall art at etsy.

You have to love a maths blog that announces:

This is why geometry is important kids. It can blow your mind.

This is a brilliant clip of Klemens Torggler’s kinetic art door based on rotating squares. The special invention makes it possible to move the object sideways without the use of tracks.


6. Creative blogs mathspig

Math is Beautiful,a maths tumblr stream, is oldish and seriously mathsy but some of the stunning visual images and interesting gifs would intrigue Middle school students. e.g. The image below is a screen grab of a circle of dots that rolls around the circumference inside a bigger circle …. but … but .. but … the gif shows that the dots actually only move along the diameters marked. Fas-kin-ating!

6a. Creative Mathspig


6b. Creative Mathspig


Here is another screen shot (above) of a gif tagged ‘I cannot stop staring at this. Try it. Your mind will be taken over by a higher power.


7. Creative Blogs Mathspig

The Advanced Geometry Tumblr stream is a stunning visual feast combining art, geometry and design. By art I mean … could be arty but naked bodies. But exploring the imagery is simply inspiring.

7a Randomly Generated Polygonal Insects


Randomly Generated Polygonal Insects by ‘Istvan’ for NeonMob


8. Creative blog Mathspig

Susan Lombardo created the Math and Fiber blog for students in an upper division college geometry course. The beauty of this blog it gives step by step instructions on how to create a crocheted coral reef, adds the maths behind the project and many interesting links.


CONSERVATION CROCHET Project at the University of Washington

8b Gabrielle Meyers’ Hyperbolic Surfaces

And Gabrielle Meyers’ Hyperbolic Surfaces


9. Creative blogs Mathspig

Hyperbolic Crochet Blog


Also check out Hyperbolic Crochet Blog of a Palestinian Maths teacher. Daina Taimina combines math education, knitting and crochet and her love of art in her book Crocheting Adventures with the Hyperbolic Planes. This blog also provides a fascinating looking at math taught in a different language and script!!!!!!



10. Creative blogs mathspig

The Virtual Math Museum links you to some of the most fabulous maths artists in the world including:


Brian Johnston and his Hydrogen Orbital (above)


and Luc Bernard and his Kuen’s Surface:

A Meditation on Euclid, Lobachevsky, and Quantum Fields.



And more ….


10 Amazing RANDOM Maths Blogs

April 5, 2016

Happy SR Day

It is Mathspig’s Mission to bring you news of some of the most practical, inspiring and intriguing maths blogs, tumblr posts and Twitter feeds out there in the blogosphere. And what a great day to do this. Happy Square Root Day people! (from Mathematica Curiosa below)


Happy Square Root Day

The following blogs et al fall into the RANDOM but totally intriguing category. Enjoy! 

1. 1 logo Radom Mathspig

The background pattern is antagonist from here.

When not writing and hosting Quick and Dirty Tips’ Math Dude podcast, Jason Marshall works as a research scientist at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) studying the infrared light emitted by starburst galaxies and quasars. Here he is as The Maths Dude:


And here he is as an Astrophysicist dude:

1. Random Mathspig






2. Logo RAndom Mathspig

Curiosa Mathematica is run by Jens Bossaert. It shows extraudinary images such as the animation by two cubes  showing the roots of the polynomials x⁵ + tx + 1 and x⁵ + tx² + 1  as t varies. (Shown without animation below) I’d tell you lots more about Jens except his homepage is in Dutch!!!

2. Random Mathspig



3. Logo Random Mathspig

LIFE THROUGH A MATHEMATICIAN’S EYES is a tumblr feed run anonymously but fabulously by a self-described ‘professional mathematical concept disrupter’ who ‘believes that the study of mathematics is like air or water to our technological society’.

3b Random Mathspig



4. Logo Random Mathspig

Try and Touch My Asymptote  Got Math? is an annonymous Tumblr stream that is a popouri of all sorts of maths brick-a-brack such as the treasure below..

4. RAndom Mathspig



5. Logo Random Mathspig

Into The Continuum is self-described as a perspective on mathematics, the pattern, and the abstract. This anonymous Tumblr feed not only provides amazing moving patterns, it gives you the code as well. Awesome!!! Here is one, sadly stationary, pattern below.

5a. RAndom Mathspig



6. Logo Random Mathspig

Robert Kaplinsky has worked in education since 2003 as a classroom teacher, district math teacher specialist, and University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) instructor. He uses maths to answer some really intrguing questions such as the one below. ‘What was the fastest motorcycle speeding ticket ever?’ is pretty scary!!!!!!!

6. Random Mathspig



7. Logo Random Mathspig

Math Prof for Life Tumblr stream uses random comments linked to hilarious gifs. The prof knows, he really knows, how maths students feel … on a bad maths day.

7a Random Mathspig

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8. Logo Random Mathspig

The Reflective Educator is the Tumblr stream of David Wees, a Canadian Maths teacher. His web page is full of all sorts of interesting reflections on how to teach maths.

8b RAndom Mathspig8c Random Mathspig



9. Logo RAndom Mathspig

Center of Math is an anonymous Twitter feed which is a glad bag of maths ideas, suggestions, diversions and jokes. Intersesting stuff. Here rre some fab examples of posts.

9a RAdom Mathspig

9b Random Mathspig

It’s a pun … maths pun. (Hint: A little fishy.)

9c Random Mathpsig



10. Logo RAndom MathspigMath Jokes Twitter is literally an endless stream of maths jokes. Who knew there were so many?  And what better way to start the day than with a maths joke. Here are a couple.

10b Random Mathspig

10c Random Mathspig



When Pi Day is sooooo Embarrassing

March 10, 2016

Mathspig Pi Day

In Australia we don’t get too carried away with 14 March aka Pi Day aka 3.14.16 because, unlike Americans,  we do not write the date as 3/14/16. We prefer 14/3/16.

No problem.

Meanwhile Mathspig called her upcoming talk for the International Congress of Mathematical Education 2016 in Hamburg:

How many m&ms would kill a 14-year-old? Making middle-school maths real, relevant, deadly serious and π-in-your-face funny!

Then  odd emails arrived relabelling my talk  ‘…….. p-in-your-face funny!’

I thought it was a typo. Not so! The Germans, the Dutch and other European countries do not call π ‘Pi’, they call it ‘P’ or ‘Pee’ because ‘i’ is pronounced ‘ee’, for instance, in German. So I had called my great international maths talk Pee-in-your-face funny! And the German organising committee seemed happy enough with the title.

To be diplomatic and to avoid the attracting the wrong type of audience I’ve retitled my talk:

How many m&ms would kill a 14-year-old? Making middle-school maths real, relevant, deadly serious and ha^2 funny!

So Happy π Day English speakers and now, for a laugh, look at some of our Pi or Pee jokes through the eyes of, say, a German.

Mathspig Happy Pi Day Europe

Pi Day 2

That’s because of the beer.


One whole day dedicated to pi.

It’s epic!

Pi Day 3

Mathematicians in love .., awwww!

So cute or they’re pissed.


Pi Day 4

OK. ‘I 8 sum pi’ but adding the ‘delicous’ makes this weird for a German. D’Oh!

pi Day 5

Very expensive bottle of pi.

Pi day 6

Mmmm! Pecan pi.

Pi Day 8

Rabbit Pi must be a problem.

Pi Day 10

Dessert wine, maybe?

Pi Day 9

That’s, like, every day after a night out on the ‘piss’ as we so delicately call it in Australia.

pi Day 11

You too can have tasty pi. I don’t know how and frankly, I don’t want to know.


MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig …………………………………………………. with Kerry Cue

March 1, 2016


1. MATHSPIG CUBISTHellooooooooo My Sweet Little Picassos,

Mathspig has gone, like, totally Cubist this month. You too can turn any portrait of yourself into a Cubist Master piece (See Mathspig portrait above), here.

Mathspigs maths friends, Lyn and Erwin, who I met at the 13e Salon Culture & Jeux Mathematique, Paris, have sent me a reminder about their amazing Cryptocube construction kit (Mathspig is twirling one above) . This is not for the faint hearted. It’s a Big Maths challenge, but well worth the investment especially for schools. You can learn more about the Zometool Cryptocube construction kit here.

Meanwhile, here are links to 10 Amazing Ways to See a Cube:

1. Tube Cube


2. Folded Paper Cube


3. Anamorphic Cube


4. Floating Cube


5. Street Art Cube






8. Spaghetti Cube


9. Fashion Cube









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