The subject that I dreaded the most was Math. Had it not been my ability to rote the final answer up to decimals, I would have never waded through my academic years. Till very recently, I was a happy soul that my Math-nightmares were over without flunking any year. But my happiness was short lived.
It is again in front of me, staring me in the face, now when my little one looks at me to teach her math. How I squeezed my way through it is not worth recommending to my kids.
In the book ‘The Joy of x’, author Steven Strogatz says “Math is everywhere, if you know where to look. We will spot sine waves in zebra stripes, hear echoes of Euclid in the Declaration of Independence, and recognize signs of negative numbers in the run up of World War -I. And we will see how our lives today are being touched by new kinds of math, as we search for restaurants online and try to understand – not to mention survive – the frightening swings in the stock market.” After reading this, a mist of depression hovered over me and I survived my first heartache. (Can you feel my pain? ☹) There are people who see so much math around and then there are people who want to close their eyes and sleep at the mere sight of a math book. I’m not proud of being the latter category.
I started looking for cartoons who can teach Math and its fundamentals in an engaging and funny way. I remember one episode of Sesame Street episode which Strogatz also cited in the first Chapter of his book ‘The Joy of x’. The episode was called ‘123, Count with Me’, in which a customer shouts his orders as “Fish, Fish, Fish, Fish, Fish, Fish” instead of saying “6 Fish”. It was such a funny, simple yet innovative way of making preschoolers understand the value of numbers. They are shortcuts to remember things. You see what numbers do – they make our life easier.
The team of writers of The Simpsons includes mathematicians. Al Jean who is now executive producer, went to Harvard University to study mathematics at the age of just 16. It’s not a surprise that all Simpsons series have serious jokes (yeah, I mean!) about mathematical equations or concepts. The famous character Lisa-Homer and Marge’s daughter, is an expert in trigonometry and algorithms.
Here I go with a list of cartoons that make learning math fun!
1. NumberJacks: It has some live action too. My 5 year old daughter is very fond of it. It is a squad of 0-9 numbers who lives under a sofa and goes out to solve problems. The best one which helped my daughter to remember ‘which two numbers make ten’ is my favorite too. Do watch “Sphere today gone tomorrow”.
2. Team Umizoomi: It has Milli, Geo, Bot and Umicars who go around solving problems. They work on problems which involve preschool mathematical concepts like counting, sequences, shapes, patterns, measurements, and comparisons. The recommended age group is 3-7 years.
3. Peg+cat: Peg, a young girl along with her indigo cat, who is her best friend goes out to solve problems that have mathematical solutions. The episodes which I also enjoyed are: ‘The Three Bears Problem” and “ The Tree Problem”. It is a good watch for kids under 6.
4. Brain Pop: Tim and Moby talk of different concepts including a wide range of subjects – English, Science, Math, History, Art and Computing. In fact, Brain Pop is shown in many schools to assist learning and understanding of children. Their episodes on math are worth watching with your kids.
5. Blaze and the Monster Machines: AJ is an 8-year-old techie who drives a monster-truck Blaze. The two go on adventures that have them taking on problems involving science and math. It’s educational, delightful and fun to watch.
6. Cyber Chase: A bad man wants to control the world. Cyber kids spoil his attempts by solving math puzzles. 6-12 years will find it funny and interesting.
This is not a comprehensive list. This is what all I have seen and could remember. It would be fun to add to the list here, do share what’s your favorite cartoon that can aid learning math.
Toony Mum’s Tip – Don’t forget to screen them before you watch them with your cubs!