Interactive Dictionary for Math

Oct 8, 2006 by

I must regret that I don’t know who Jenny Eather is, but I do know that she has created a fantastically exhaustive, and uniquely interactive Math dictionary for kids. The “A Maths Dictionary for Kids” has hundreds of interactive entries for mathematical terminology for grades K through 12, that makes exploring math vocabulary not only entertaining, but engaging as well.

Take for example, the entry for “abacus-Chinese”. Rather than just explain what an abacus is, the user is presented with an interactive image of an abacus. The upper and lower beads can be moved in order to create numbers using the traditional base-10 system. For a challenge, random numbers can be generated for the learner to attempt to duplicate it on the abacus. A single click of a button allows the user to check to see if they have indeed used the abacus correctly to create the number. Quite a fun way to learn about abacuses, especially since many schools I’ve been in usually don’t have the counting devices lying around for use.

The interactive dictionary isn’t just limited to simple terms either. “Prime Factorisation” [sic], “coefficient”, and “irrational number” are just a few of the more advanced terms that can be found in the dictionary. One term that I was unfamiliar with, “order of rotational symmetry”, allowed me to rotate various geometric shapes to determine how many different positions were symmetrical with the original position. While it was quickly apparent to me what the term meant once I was allowed to rotate a variety of shapes, without actually manipulating the shapes I was a bit puzzled as to what the term was explaining (something that plagues many math classes that might be lacking in manipulatives).

My favorite definition by far has to be “infinity”. Once you enter the Maths Dictionary it starts counting, and as long as you stay on the site, it continues to count, and count, and count. I periodically came back to the entry to make it sure it was still marking time, and sure enough it was still chugging along. I checked one last time before leaving the site and caught it just as it passed 47,000. All in all, this is one of the most engaging, and well-executed, interactive learning sites I’ve ever seen; it’s worth a stop even if you don’t teach math.

P.S. Thanks Tom for finding this amazing tool!

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2 Comments

  1. kathy

    I was not familiar with “A Math Dictionary For Kids” but I am glad that I stumbled upon it. It is a great interactive tool that I am going to use in my 6th grade classroom.
    I am presently taking a Differentiated Insruction Workshop and the dictionary will be a part of my lessons. I spent a long time(and I had fun) finding words that apply to my curriculum.The definitions are at the student’s level and they can use this tool independently.
    Infinity is great as is acute angle.
    Thanks, Tom.

  2. That was a great post. I will have to bookmark this site so I can read more later.

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