Spark the Natural Curiosity of Kids with ‘Into Math with Imagination’

Mathematics is defined as “a boring subject that has nothing to do with real life and is developed just to torture every student for eleven years of school.” *

Just kidding! Math can be as fun and imaginative as any other subject in school. Galileo Galilei described mathematics as the language of the universe, which is very elegant but he forgot to mention that it helps us do cool stuff! Math is all around us every day. How can we help students who are reluctant to embrace this message and seem anxious learning the material?

To help students who struggle or lack motivation in mathematics educators have turned to the discovery method as a support or alternative to rote learning of arithmetic. Discovery learning exercises give students the benefit of seeing mathematical concepts applied directly to their favourite subjects and activities. These exercises use arithmetic to develop the underlying skills that support competency in math, especially logical reasoning and the ability to discuss ideas.


A good mathematical education begins with arithmetic, but the objective of discovery math is to prepare students for real world experiences by mastering the skill of solving problems. This is the reasoning behind Yasmina Roberts’ discovery learning series: Into Math with Imagination. These three storybooks combine mathematics, fiction, and non-fiction to give kids a chance to explore mathematical concepts in different settings. Readers will discover math in these stories the way they encounter it in real life, and hints embedded in the story will guide them toward the correct manner of solving the problem.

Antventures, the first in the series, is for children in Grade 1. The story follows Limpo, a young ant who decides to skip school and observe the adult bugs working in his community. Already, it doesn’t sound like your typical math book!


Mystery in the Sea is for students in Grade 3 and up. Oct is a fastidious young octopus who enjoys collecting and exploring. He’s lived his entire life on the 4th layer of the coral reef, or the 7th depending on whether you count from the top or bottom. This time he’s taking on the mystery of the missing Blue Diamond, which was stolen from Queen Snake.

Logic Land is also for students in Grade 3, but you’ll find more than math to puzzle you here. Logic Land is a world of wizards who would rather use math than magic! Yes, the power of human logic is their go-to method for solving problems.



Yasmina Roberts has a Master’s degree in mathematics from the University oToronto and has taught math in both public and private schools. Her love of puzzles is second only to her love of the natural world, and she hopes to pass on this joy through her series, Into Math with Imagination.







*The preface to Logic Land, by Yasmina Roberts

The 2017 Little Big Thinker Contest

The “winding down” days at the end of a school semester are anything but. Classes may be about to end, but for kids the summer season is full of potential and the fun is really just beginning. Teachers are full of inventive ways to channel a classroom’s energy into creative projects for these final days. Last year, DC Canada introduced The Little Big Thinker Contest to give schools a chance to host a class tournament of our critical thinking game, Playwise, on the last day of school.

Playwise is a board game for ages 6 and up. With three different ways to play, the game can be tailored for varying levels of ability and competitiveness. The goal is to think creatively, think fast, and communicate clearly. Players takes turns being the judge of each round and awarding laurels while the others offer their best answer to hypothetical philosophical questions. It pays to be imaginative as it is often the most unique answer that wins the round.

The Little Big Thinker Contest is based on the game Playwise and the My Little Books series, both developed by the founder of the Canadian Institute of Philosophy for Children, Dr. George Ghanotakis. Last year we gave schools four philosophical questions from the My Little Books series and their answers were extraordinary! We could only pick three winners to receive books and games for the class, but the real reward of this game is always to see demonstrations of the wild range of seriousness and imagination that kids bring to the game.

This year we’re doing it again. Four questions will be announced in early February. The top three answers will be selected by our panel of judges in April, and the winners will receive books and games for themselves and the class. One class will be chosen to host a Playwise tournament on the last day of school!

Has a little big thinker stumped you with a funny question? We want to hear it! Send it to us by email, via Twitter, or on Facebook.

Want to join us on this year’s big thinking adventure? Volunteer to be a judge!

Dr. George Ghanotakis, founder of the Canadian Institute of Philosophy for Children, developed the game Playwise and the My Little Books series to introduce kids of ages 6 and up to philosophy and critical thinking.

Notre Concours 2017 ‘‘The Little Big Thinker’’

Les derniers jours à la fin d’un semestre scolaire sont importants. Les cours peuvent être sur le point de se terminer, mais pour les enfants la saison estivale est plein de potentiel et le plaisir est vraiment juste à son début. Les enseignants utilisent pleins de moyens inventifs pour transformer l’énergie d’une salle de classe en projets créatifs pour ces derniers jours. L’an dernier, DC Canada a présenté le concours ‘‘The Little Big Thinker’’ pour donner aux écoles la chance d’accueillir un tournoi de classe de notre jeu de réflexion critique, Playwise, le dernier jour d’école.

Playwise est un jeu de société pour les enfants de 6 ans et plus. Avec trois manières différentes de jouer, le jeu peut être adapté pour divers niveaux de capacité et de compétitivité. L’objectif est de penser de façon créative, de penser rapidement et de communiquer clairement. Les joueurs sont à tour de rôle juge de chaque tour et attribuent des lauriers pendant que les autres offrent leur meilleure réponse à des questions philosophiques hypothétiques. Il faut être imaginatif car c’est souvent la réponse la plus unique qui gagne le tour.

Le concours Little Big Thinker est basé sur le jeu Playwise et la série My Little Books, tous deux développés par le Dr George Ghanotakis, fondateur de l’Institut Canadien de Philosophie pour les Enfants. L’année dernière, nous avons donné aux écoles quatre questions philosophiques de la série My Little Books et leurs réponses étaient extraordinaires! Nous ne pouvions choisir que trois gagnants pour recevoir des livres et des jeux pour la classe, mais la vraie récompense de ce jeu est toujours de voir le sérieux et l’imagination que les enfants apportent au jeu.

Cette année, nous le faisons à nouveau. Quatre questions seront annoncées au début du mois de février. Les trois premières réponses seront sélectionnées par notre panel de juges en avril, et les gagnants recevront des livres et des jeux pour eux-mêmes et pour la classe. Une classe sera choisie pour accueillir un tournoi Playwise le dernier jour de l’école!

Un petit penseur vous a-t-il captivé avec une drôle de question? Nous voulons l’entendre! Envoyez-le nous par email, via Twitter, ou sur Facebook.
Vous voulez nous rejoindre sur cette grande aventure cette année? Faites du bénévolat pour être juge!

Five Ways to Encourage Creative Thinking

Leonard Judge | December 11, 2015 Creativity

Defining creativity is not as straightforward as one might think.

What is it really? Where do we begin and what are we aiming for when we attempt to encourage creative thinking in children?

A common definition for creativity is simply to use one’s imagination to think about and develop original ideas.

1. See things in new ways


When considering strategies to help children in early childhood education environments to think creatively zoom in on ways to help them to think about old things in new ways.

This really is, after all, the goal of creative thinking. We are encouraging them to develop new connections in the brain and stretch the limits.

Bring something to the classroom, that everyone knows and understands well and help the children to think about it in a new way.

Example: Apple
It’s a fruit; we can eat it. What else can we do with it? We can crush it and drink it. We can take out its seeds, plant them, and the apple will become a tree one day. It’s an apple, but it is also a sphere. What about its colour? Are apples always red? The goal — see something common in new and creative ways.

2. Have open-ended group discussions

Have plenty of classroom meetings in which you talk about open-ended subjects. Ask for answers and make sure you encourage and accept all answers as relevant.

Use these discussions to solve problems. Your goal should be to allow students a safe place to say what they feel freely and without threat of censor.


3. Use traditional creative tools

Painting, writing and even reading can encourage creativity. Fill your room with the tools of creative endeavour and provide ample opportunity for children to express themselves in this way.


4. Use the Socratic teaching style often

Dec11_Blog4Lead your children to where you want them to be, but help them to get there on their own using their creative minds.

Sample question: What if you saw an elderly woman in a department store unknowingly drop a $50 bill and walk away? You are the only person who saw it. What would you do?


5. Use magic

Dec11_Blog5Many children respond well to magical, ‘let’s imagine’ exercises. You might ask students to imagine what they would like to be if they were not human. You can also suggest something and then listen to the children’s responses.

Example: If you were not a human but a bird, what would that look like? What would that feel like? What are the problems of being a bird? What are the benefits? How would your life be different if you were a bird? What do birds need to survive? How is this different from and similar to what you need?