Unifix cubes.

(MathPickle, 2011)

Use Unifix to play with patterns. One new unifix mime vignette I did with kindergarten children in 2013 was to enter a new classroom with unifix cubes sorted out in color piles. I lay down in the middle of the cubes. The teacher hit a button and the nasty music of Shostakovich 8th symphony – 3rd movement came blurting out. It has a heavy rhythm. Each time a certain type of beat came down I added a specific color to my unifix strip. After a while it broke and everyone laughed and we turned off the music. The kids were mesmerized by this weird apparition in the classroom. Making the link between music and repetition is great and this is the best piece of music I’ve found to do it. 

Now there are more exciting conductors with awesome interpretations of this music of World War II (written 1943), but I couldn’t find Gergiev. However, Mravinsky gets what he wants in the link above. Fantastic music for those with too much testosterone. Shostakovich pre-dates the other great symphonic music that we all know –  Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings…

The human heart likes a little disorder in its geometry.

Louis de Bernieres

Standards for Mathematical Practice

MathPickle puzzle and game designs engage a wide spectrum of student abilities while targeting the following Standards for Mathematical Practice:

MP1 Toughen up!

Students develop grit and resiliency in the face of nasty, thorny problems. It is the most sought after skill for our students.

MP2 Think abstractly!

Students take problems and reformat them mathematically. This is helpful because mathematics lets them use powerful operations like addition.

MP3 Work together!

Students discuss their strategies to collaboratively solve a problem and identify missteps in a failed solution. MathPickle recommends pairing up students for all its puzzles.

MP4 Model reality!

Students create a model that mimics the real world. Discoveries made by manipulating the model often hint at something in the real world.

MP5 Know the tools.

Students master the tools at their fingertips - whether it's a pencil or an online app. 

MP6 Be precise!

Students learn to communicate using precise terminology. MathPickle encourages students not only to use the precise terms of others, but to invent and rigorously define their own terms.

MP7 Be observant!

Students learn to identify patterns. This is one of the things that the human brain does very well. We sometimes even identify patterns that don't really exist 😉

MP8 Be lazy!?!

Students learn to seek for shortcuts. Why would you want to add the numbers one through a hundred if you can find an easier way to do it?


Please use MathPickle in your classrooms. If you have improvements to make, please contact me. I'll give you credit and kudos 😉 For a free poster of MathPickle's ideas on elementary math education go here.

Gordon Hamilton

(MMath, PhD)