Gold Nuggets: Discovering Math in the California Gold Rush is
a book of 38 lessons covering mathematical topics from mean, median,
and mode; measuring; time; coordinates; multiplication; subtraction;
money; graphs; and geometry to name a few. Permission is granted
to reproduce each lesson for a "single classroom or for home use." Each
lesson is presented over two pages. At the top of each lesson,
the California State standards are listed. There is also a table
at the back of the book listing which lessons covered which topics.
Each lesson contains a little bit of history followed by a brief
mathematical howto and then directions for one or more activities
based on the topic. In many cases, the student will be using actual
data from the Gold Rush era. Some of these activities require a "partner" or "classmate." Some
activities include a bonus or challenge problem as well. Most lessons
have at least one illustration. These illustrations are a mix of
cartoon drawings, actual photos, handdrawn illustrations, maps,
and reproductions of paintings. There are "Teacher Pages" at the
end of the book which include the answers, California standards,
and teaching suggestions.
This book was published with the California classroom in mind;
however, it could easily be used in a homeschool setting. I don't
see any homeschooling methods not liking this book because it is
so flexible. However, it seems to be most geared towards unit studies
of some kind, given the nature of combining social studies with
math. The lessons are short, and only a few problems are worked
for each math portion. So it might be a good fit for Charlotte
Mason homeschoolers.
Overall, this book is well researched, full of interesting tidbits
and tales of the Gold Rush era, and well presented. I would not
personally use this as a standalone for math because the topics
are so varied and because so few problems for each concept are
presented. But I would use this book as an enrichment to my history
lessons and perhaps lessen the amount of regular math I was doing
in my school day to compensate for the topicdriven math. I really
like the way that real numbers are used in the presentation of
a bit of history before the math problems. This book also presents
histories of people of diverse backgrounds, including Native Americans,
former slaves, women, Chinese, and Mexican. If you are studying
the Gold Rush or California History, this could be a fun resource
for you and your upper elementary school child.
Product review by Marisa Corless, MH, The Old Schoolhouse^{®} Magazine,
LLC, October 2010
