Do you want to lead online math circles or casual math playdates for friends and family? Join Dr. Maria Droujkova and math friends for a live online event. We will explore a few activities together. We will also share online teaching tips, and crowdsource a playlist of math activities that feel calm.

**When**: Wednesday April 1 from noon to 1 PM EDT**Math topic**: start with symmetry (algebraic geometry) and bridge to more**Education topic**: emotional support via mathematics for children ages 5 and up**Who**: parents, teachers, and math circle leaders**Where**: Natural Math Zoom**Supplies**: plain paper, graph paper (print here if you need it), scissors, colored pencils or markers, reliable internet, microphone

After you register, you will receive an email from reach.out@naturalmath.com with a link to login instructions. If you can’t find the email, send a message to that address and we’ll figure it out. Please log into Zoom on the device you will use for the event and check your audio and video systems at least fifteen minutes in advance.

We will try to make notes and the recording of the event available.

Natural Math makes advanced mathematics accessible to everyone in kind ways. How? At Natural Math, families with toddlers do projects on symmetry and tessellations; four-year-olds design function machines; and six-year-olds build fractal models of infinity. Our motto: “Math is what you make of it.” Natural Math has more than two decades of proven track record in curriculum development, experience design, and publishing.

Dr. Maria Droujkova focuses her research and development efforts on learning communities, informal education, online education, advanced mathematics for young children, and game design. She holds a Ph.D. in Mathematics Education from NCSU, and M.S. in Mathematics from Tulane. Maria is the founder of Natural Math, an educational design, consulting, and publishing organization started in 1996. Her approach to teaching focuses on the easy complexity (such as calculus for five-year-olds), openness, and kindness. She co-authored Moebius Noodles and Avoid Hard Work, popular books with innovative math activities for parents, teachers, and math circle leaders.

Posted in A Math Circle Journey, Grow

First of all, congratulations! And thanks! After a successful crowdfunding campaign, *Ying and the Magic Turtle* is published and available. In that story book, readers experience mathematics, problems solving, and the rewards that come with perseverance. Children ages five and up, parents, and teachers can enjoy this retelling of an ancient legend for its rich beauty in mathematics.

Next up! Tenth book to be published by Natural Math, *Five Fabulous Activities for Your Math Circle*, is up for crowdfunding!

A math circle is any group of people gathering to explore mathematics—it could be in your home, in school, or even online. Math circle activities are often interactive, exploratory, flexible, open-ended, and social. How does one make it happen? *Five Fabulous Activities* * *by Samuel Coskey, Paul Ellis, and Japheth Wood, veteran math circle leaders, will help show you how. This book is a guide and a collection of recipes for anyone who wants to help others discover joyful and challenging math.

The book is primarily for middle and high school students. Each chapter also includes activities and explanations intended for younger math friends. The underlying mathematics can be of interest even to adult learners, including the authors!

The funding campaign quickly reached its goal. At the current stretch goal, for every $100 we raise, we will donate a copy of the book to a math circle serving groups of people who are underrepresented in STEM fields.

Our math friends shared these function machines. Can you guess what they do?

Posted in Newsletter

*Ying and the Magic Turtle* by Sue Looney is a new story book for children ages 5 and up. It is about magic squares, and is inspired by an ancient Chinese legend. Natural Math hopes to publish it in November, in time for the winter holiday gifts. We are crowdfunding it on Kickstarter. For practical purposes, crowdfunding works like a preorder. Math friends who contribute to the campaign also receive extra prizes, and connect with the book’s author and crew.

There are some recent additions to the campaign page. Check out the new variable prize, where supporters can choose the number of books they want. Thank you for the suggestion, Tina G! There are also new answers to several questions, such as, “How do you go about using a story book in a math classroom?”

**Question** (mind the book spoiler): – The emperor eventually invites Ying to join the team working out engineering solutions to the annual floods. Does solving abstract puzzles like magic squares really help with applied mathematics?

(This is a page layout with Ying and her, sadly empty, fishing pole, from when the river flooded.)

**Answer**: Solving puzzles such as magic squares leads to uncovering the general structure of a problem type. There are properties that are true of all magic squares that can be unpacked. At first glance they are simple, but their beauty is in the complexities of understanding how it is that they “work”.

When we change one number in the magic square, that affects the row and the column and ultimately the rest of that SYSTEM. We can use that property to make a point about system thinking. We can’t solve the magic square cell by cell, but have to consider it as a whole. Likewise, rivers, rains, and the weather are systems that have many components all affecting one another.

Ying demonstrates for readers the qualities that are required for engineers and designers, such as perseverance and being intellectually brave. Young children can also start their STEM journeys with puzzles. The beauty and challenge of problem solving will help them develop lifelong skills necessary in the STEM fields.

There are 10 days left on the book’s crowdfunding campaign, with about 73% of the target goal gathered by the supporters – THANK YOU! If you contribute, you receive the book plus special prizes, and your name in the book’s dedication pages. You can also dedicate your contribution under an alias, list your whole family, or put your math circle, school, or business name into the book.

We are very grateful for each and every contribution. Starting at, and including, the $1 level, the contributions do add up and make the book possible. Each contribution is a voice of support on a long and difficult journey from the concept to the finished book. Each is a vote of confidence that warms the hearts of the book’s team. Each supporter sparks hope for the future authors who contemplate if they should write a math book one day.

In addition to the story, the book has materials for teachers and parents to explore magic squares with children, and to help children pose their own problems. Here are some bonus activities to try.

Smaller numbers make for faster puzzles, accessible to younger children. Arrange these numbers:

1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 3

in the nine boxes below so that each row and column has the same sum.

Magic squares are a mathematical puzzle that has fascinated learners throughout time, including capturing the attention of Benjamin Franklin. Franklin created his Magic Square in 1771 and later wrote, *“I was at length tired with sitting there to hear debates, in which, as clerk, I could take no part, and which were often so unentertaining that I was induc’d to amuse myself with making magic squares or circles”* (Franklin 1793). Here is his famous Franklin Square:

What do you notice about the Franklin square? What do you wonder? What patterns do you see? Send your ideas, magic squares, and questions our way to share with the Natural Math community!

Posted in Make & Grow, Newsletter

Big news! Natural Math is ready to publish our next book, *Ying and the Magic Turtle* – and with your help, this can happen soon. Ying and the Magic Turtle is a story book about mathematics, problems solving and the rewards that come with perseverance. As in all Natural Math books, you can expect beautiful, advanced concepts made accessible to everyone in kind ways.

We just started the book’s crowdfunding campaign. Visit the campaign to watch a video invitation, see sample illustrations and layouts, and learn how this book can enhance your children’s mathematics at home, math circle, or school. Please contribute to the campaign and help us spread the word. Thanks to parents and teachers like you, who support Natural Math authors, this small indie publisher can keep offering unique materials with the open Creative Commons license. Of course, there are special prizes for every supporter, from your name in the book to group packages.

We at Natural Math were thrilled when Dr. Sue Looney, a veteran mathematics educator and provider of professional development, approached us with the book’s concept: retell an ancient legend about magic squares as a children’s story. We want to see many more mathematical story books like *Life on the Infinite Farm* (infinity), *Anno’s Magic Seeds* (exponential growth), and *Funville Adventures* (functions and functionals).

“Long ago in the land of China, there were many rain storms … and the land of China was slowly sinking into the sea. This is the story of how a wise emperor, an observant girl, and a magic turtle saved the villages of China from the great flood.” So begins the story. I wish I read it as a young child, so I could pretend-play to be Ying, saving my land – with math!

Children ages 5 and up, parents, and teachers can enjoy the book for its rich beauty in mathematics and as an ancient legend. It is the kind of story to revisit over and over again. This book is perhaps best experienced *with *someone, as a read-aloud or read-together. When reading, we learn of Ying’s trouble, and we root for her to find her solution. We find ourselves drawn into the life problems that Ying is facing, but also drawn into the inherent mathematics of the story. It is through the beauty of the pattern of the dots on the turtle’s shell that the solution is finally found and the land is saved.

We can appreciate each scene as we read, and then pause and predict what might come next. We can play with the mathematics, solving right alongside Ying. We can delve deeper into the power of magic squares by working with puzzles presented at the end of the story. Best yet, there are unsolved problems in number theory even a young child can try, such as finding all the possible magic squares of a given size.

Posted in Make & Grow, Newsletter