Have you ever heard of a mirror book? It’s a simple thing made of two inexpensive mirrors connected at one edge by duct tape. It’s also a powerful instrument for playful learning:
- A child’s scribble reveals hidden symmetries.
- A slice of pizza looks like an entire pizza.
- A toy creates simple animations.
- Simple objects form mosaic patterns.
- Images appear and disappear like magic.
- A line drawn across the opening forms polygons that add sides as the mirror book is slowly closed.
Discovery-based play is how young children learn. Mathematical reasoning appears to be standard for our species. Studies show that infants can approximate numbers and spot mathematical errors while five-year-olds grasp basic principles of algebra.
Greater understanding is naturally built through hands-on, open-ended activities. That’s why math expert Maria Droujkova advocates natural math. This is also the name of her site, dedicated to sharing play-based, deep-inquiry endeavors through a Q&A hub, webinars, mini-courses, and an upcoming series of innovative books.
The first in this series is Moebius Noodles: Adventurous Math for the Playground Crowd. It’s packed full of ways to connect with the youngest child’s curiosity while creating a math-rich environment that naturally evokes exploration, fun, and ever-greater mastery. The book’s delights include double doodle zoo, robot commands, multiplication towers, and yes, mirror books.
For more about the paradigm shift away from rote math to more natural forms of math learning, check out this interview with Maria Droujkova and her Moebius Noodle co-author Yelena McManaman. Get your copy of the book via amazon or pay what you choose for the PDF version . Hurray for playful math from babyhood on.