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Review: Math Dictionary for Kids

Math Dictionary for Kids: The Essential Guide to Math Terms, Strategies, and Tables is a great reference book that I think should be on every kid's bookshelf. (Disclosure: The publisher sent me a review copy.) New copies are available via Amazon for as low as $7.64 plus shipping in the U.S. making this book an inexpensive back to school gift for 4th to 9th graders.

When I was doing lots of computer programming I would always have reference books available (or online equivalents) to look up how to solve some particular kind of problem in some particular programming language or environment. "Math Dictionary for Kids" is that kind of book for kids who need to review (or learn) some mathematical concept and it's filled with tons of how-to's just like those good programming reference books.

I do think that "dictionary" is a misnomer. I typically use a dictionary to look up the meaning of a word (or the spelling, before spell-checkers were everywhere). This book is much more comprehensive than your typical dictionary.

The book is very kid-friendly. Color is used liberally throughout the book, which is filled with many figures and illustrations. The book is divided into (color coded) sections:

  • Whole Numbers and Operations
  • Measurement
  • Algebraic Ideas
  • Geometry
  • Decimals, Fractions, Percents and Ratios
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Problem Solving
  • Quick Reference Guides
  • Learning With Manipulatives
  • Formulas
  • Tables and Charts
  • Measurement Conversion Tables
  • Basic Math Tools and Equipment

An index lets you find entries regardless of where they are in the book.

One entry I particularly enjoyed was the one on multiplication strategies. In a very concise format (less than a page) the shows six different ways to look at multiplication, with a concrete example for each. But, here's a caution, for a student with a good relationship to math the section might be all he or she needs to start exploring different ways of multiplying. Other students may need help from a parent or teacher to use the material.

As one would expect from any good dictionary, this one covers plenty of vocabulary terms that any child (and parent) should know.

Finally, Amazon reviewers really like the book; 12 out of 13 gave the book five stars, the other gave it four. I also give the book five stars.

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