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Gold Nuggets: Discovering Math in the California Gold Rush

By Marty DeJonghe & Carol Earhart
Gold Nugget Books
www.goldnuggetbooks.com
goldnuggetbooks@aol.com


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 how-to 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, hand-drawn 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 stand-alone 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 topic-driven 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

 



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