A mathematical Christmas? You bet! For instance, I just noticed that Raymond Smullyan’s The Lady or the Tiger is finally back in print. My family and my math club students have enjoyed many of the puzzles in this book over the years, and I can’t think of a better stocking stuffer for the mathophile in your family.
(I do hope that means the rest of Raymond Smullyan’s puzzle books will be coming back, too!)
In the holiday gift-giving spirit, I’ve started making a list. Check out the links below for more mathematical Christmas present ideas.
I’ve already shared my favorite find of the season, so let’s take a look at what other math bloggers like:
- Christmas Gifts for Math Geeks (Like Me!) #1
“For the mathematician in your life you almost certainly cannot go wrong by buying them a book — just make sure that they haven’t already got it!” A nice, long list of suggestions. Many of these are on my wish list, too. [But what happened to post #2 in this series?]
- Gifts for Math Lovers
Math Mama shares a couple of her favorite books.
- The Nicest Math Book I Own
“This Christmas, give yourself a great gift and get this book… Ladies, your geeky boyfriend will likely propose to you if you put a copy under the tree.”
- The Math Book: From Pythagoras to the 57th Dimension, 250 Milestones in the History of Mathematics
This recommendation gets a second vote here.
- Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth
“It defies categorization: is it a comic book? A biography? A book of philosophy? Of history? Of mathematics? Well, it’s all of these things, and manages to pull it off with grace and style.”
- Top Ten Gift Ideas for the Math Lover in Your Life
An old (2006) list, but with many good ideas. For example, The Moscow Puzzles will never go out of date.
And a few non-books…
- Review: Martin Gardner’s Mathematical Games CD
“The CD contains every single one of Gardner’s articles in Scientific American. Wow!”
- Solve My T-Shirt and Math + Fashion
“This week’s problem of the week was found…at a t-shirt shop? Math really is everywhere.”
- 1/t (Once Upon a Time)
I’m not sure where Travis found these, but they would make fun gifts.
- Ideal Gift for the ‘Mathie’
Deb recommends Nerdy T-shirts. In another post, she offers a few hints for those who are Buying A TI Calculator for Christmas.
Updates: Sam posted his link in the comments, which led me to another list. If you have a list of favorite math books or other mathy gift ideas, I’d love to add yours, too…
- Just some good books about Math, for those who like Math
Sam wanted to give books as awards for high school math students. Many good ideas in the post and the comments.
- Mathematical materials
Edmund Harriss’s list of enjoyable math reads.
Put your heart into the gift by making a mathematical craft:
- Flexagon Fun for the Whole Family
I love flexagons! Use them as a mathy Christmas card, stocking stuffer, or just a way to keep the kids busy on a snowy afternoon.
- Make a Soma Cube
Make your own Soma Cube puzzle, and then check out Thorleif’s SOMA page for a ton of puzzle figures. [Hat tip to Math Teachers at Play #21 for Rachel’s post.]
- String Art Decorations
Scroll to the bottom of the Icosihenagon page for instructions on hardening these patterns to make ornaments or other decorative hangings.
- Mathematical Knitting and Crochet
Try your hand at a binary scarf, Klein bottle hat, or many other projects.
Logic Puzzles and Games
Have you heard this: New Research: $13 Christmas gifts = 13 point gain in kids’ IQ?
The games chosen were card games like SET, the traffic-jam puzzle Rush Hour, and Qwirkle… The kids’ IQ averaged a 90… The children’s parents, on average, were high-school dropouts. These were the kids every education policy hopes to target… Twice a week, the kids played the games for an hour and fifteen minutes… After just eight weeks — twenty total hours of game playing — Bunge’s team retested the children’s intelligence… The children’s reasoning scores, on average, leapt 32%. Translated to an IQ standard, that bumped them 13 points.
There are more logic puzzles and games available than I could possibly list — and many, like Qwirkle from the quote above, that I’ve never tried. (I’ll have to put it on my wish list.) The following have been our family favorites over many years:
- Rush Hour
One of the best puzzle gifts I ever got my daughter. She loved it so much that she asked for expansion card decks the next year.
A nice selection of tangram puzzles, with two sets of tiles and a handy case to hold it all. For younger children, try Tangoes Junior and an extra Puzzle Pack.
- Visual Brainstorms Deck 1 and Deck 2
These are great Math Club supplements. Keep them available for kids who finish the day’s project quickly or to fill extra time at the end of a meeting.
- Block by Block
My personal favorite 3-D puzzle: the Soma Cube. (See Make a Soma Cube, above.) I was sitting in the kitchen playing with this one afternoon, and my son sat down to watch me and ended up stealing the puzzle for the rest of the day. Makes a momma proud.
I’m not sure how this works as a 4-player game, but the 2-player version was a highlight of my childhood holidays. We didn’t have the game at home, but when the extended family gathered at my aunt’s house, we would unroll her Pente mat for hours of enjoyment.
Either this game or Othello are my kids’ all-time favorites. At least, they are the games that come out of the cabinet most frequently. Mastermind can also be played with a piece of paper, guessing 4-digit numbers instead of colors. (Agree beforehand whether numbers that start with zero will count!)
“A minute to learn, a lifetime to master.” And a whole lot of fun in the meantime!
Here are a few more items that I would love to find under my tree on Christmas morning:
- Math Gifts at Cafe Press
“14,100 Math designs available on 412,000 products.” T-shirts, mugs, clocks, and more. I love the baby shirt that says “Cutie “. We may have to get that for the newest nephew.
Sidney Harris cartoons featured on these tees, and plenty of other options, too. This one is a best seller, of course.
A wide variety of gift items featuring math and physics images and quotations.
- The Mathematics Calendar
I almost forgot this. I’ve enjoyed Theoni Pappas’s math calendars in the past, and I would certainly like to have one for the coming New Year.
What Will Santa Bring You?
Can you think of a wonderful, mathematical gift that I’ve missed? I would love to hear your suggestions! Please leave ideas or links in the comments section below.
And have a very Mathy Christmas!