If you love helping students experience the magic of mathematics, this dynamic, creative approach is just what you're looking for. Mathemagical Showtime links children's natural love of magic tricks with important standards-based concepts. This high-quality program gets results because it sparks interest while it supports understanding.
Mathemagical Showtime provides a meaningful context for investigating patterns and functions – along with lots of mental math and basic skills practice.
The investigations cover a range of difficulty appropriate for upper elementary and middle school students. Supporting the blackline masters are classroom-tested, teacher-friendly directions and a commentary featuring actual student examples.
"I have never learned that much in such a short time. . . Let every school have the book and teach all of them because they would all be looking forward to learn all the tricks."
— Mayra, 6th Grade Student
"Mathemagical Showtime was very valuable. . . It encouraged students to think algebraically, to use appropriate symbols, and to explain their thinking in mathematically rigorous terms. I had a number of parents comment at Open House as to how much their family enjoyed working on the tricks after dinner.” — Erik Bennett, 6th Grade Middle School Teacher
“We have enjoyed watching and participating in the math tricks. It is fun to see our son astound our friends as well as ourselves.” — Michelle Townsend, Parent
“Mathemagical Showtime was very exciting. I never knew math could be done that way."
— David, 5th Grade Student
“Even though this was a ‘math’ class, as my daughter would say, she had something new and fun to share with her family every day. I consider that a success.” — Greg Curtis, Parent
Author's Note on "Mathemagic"
To many students, mathematics is a kind of magic—an "occult science" whose secrets are somehow, mysteriously, revealed to some but not to others. The paradoxical message of Mathemagical Showtime! is that math is not magic, and that it doesn't take a "mathemagician" to understand the basic logic and language of mathematics.
Mathemagical Showtime! provides a high-interest context for investigating important mathematical ideas, with a particular focus on patterns and functions. Using magic tricks and stunts to enrich the math curriculum is certainly not a new idea—the math education literature is full of suggestions for "mathemagical" demonstrations. To date, however, there has been no effort to group these activities into a teachable classroom unit organized around a coherent body of mathematical ideas. Moreover, most suggestions for using numerical magic tricks call for the teacher to reveal the "math behind the magic"—rather than having students discover the magician's secret in the course of an investigation.
For the latter idea, I am indebted to Marilyn Burns, who was kind enough to look over an early, very rough draft of the unit. Marilyn helped reword the first investigation and piloted it with a group of students. This was a turning point in the evolution of the unit. What had been up to this point an enjoyable and stimulating set of enrichment activities became a series of serious—and much more engaging—investigations.