This is Not a Math Book, It is a Magical Math Book

Today’s post is our last of 2017. I’ve shared over 150 math books with my children (ages 8, 5 and 1) since the creation of this past July and found twenty-four books that were magical for us. We will be taking a break at the beginning of 2018 as we search for more magical books to share with you.

While we are temporarily away,  if you’re missing your weekly dose of math book magic you might try: (1) Visiting some of our old posts listed by topic in the menu bar,   (2) visiting, an excellent resource developed by educators and researchers passionate about sharing math stories with children, or (3) playing around with the activities from this week’s magical math book.


This is Not a Math Book: A Smart Art Activity Book was created by Ann Weltman. Ann Weltman is a math teacher and co-founder of Math Munch, an online resource that provides a digest of mathematics for children, parents and teachers. The award-winning This is Not a Maths Book was published in England by Ivy Kids in 2015 and by Kane Miller: A division of EDC publishing in 2015.


I really liked this description of Weltman’s book which can be found on Usbourne books website:

“Math and art, as different as night and day, right? Wrong! This is Not a Math Book shows how math can be beautiful and art can be numerical. Amazing patterns with a mathematical basis will be revealed as you follow the simple activity instructions. And you’ll learn incredible math facts as you draw the beautiful designs. A real eye-opener for kids of all ages with an artistic bent who think that math is dry and boring, while math enthusiasts will discover new ways to be creative.”

Weltman has similar book aptly titled: This is Not Another Math(s) Book.  Both of these books provide plenty of math activities to keep your children and students creating and exploring throughout 2018.


Weltman’s book is full of art-infused invitations to mathematical thinking. As you can see from the Table of Contents below, wonderful mathematical creatures like fractals and tessellations creep into this art-making activity book. While drawing and experimenting with geometric shapes and creating and investigating numeric and geometric patterns, the reader/artist using this book is invited to stretch their mind and imagination as they color and create mathematical shapes, designs, and patterns.




Weltman has masterfully curated a collection of activities that opens doors to profound and curious mathematical questions. Some of these questions are written into the text (“Did you know you can fit an infinite number of circles into a finite space?” Wait. WHAT?!), however most questions Weltman magically tucks away inside unmade art waiting to be created and discovered by the reader.


I am in the process of working through Weltman’s first book now and sharing it with my children as they become curious.  The book is for 9 and up (however, there are certainly things in the book that my 5 year old is able to explore with me).

Here is one example. On the left are my circles, on the right are Siena’s overlapping circles. We are still working on completing our coloring.  But below, I recorded some of the things I noticed and wondered while I colored. The page is about drawing “perfect” circles. You draw bunch of overlapping circles freehand and fill the space.img_8890.jpg

As I drew, I noticed:

  • The perfect circles needed to start and end at the same point
  • They needed a constant curvature
  • That I didn’t really keep track of the center. It was too hard to visualize. Maybe I sort of was doing it when I looked holistically at what I was drawing in the process.
  • I drew large circles to cover quicker.
  • I felt proud when I drew a “perfect” circle.

I wondered (mathematical things and teaching things):

  • That I enjoyed the repetition of this activity and it got me wondering about places where repetition is useful and for what.
  • Is there a minimum amount of circles possible that cover the page?
  • How would the page of circles from a class of 30 students differ? How would they be the same?
  • If there is a developmental progression for drawing circles, what is it?  What will young children attend to while drawing circles? Will ovals be OK for them? When do an oval and circle become different things? And how do they talk about this difference?
  • I want to color so that the colors don’t “touch.” What are the fewest  number of colors I can use to fill the page? (2, 3 or 4?)  What does “touch” mean? Is a corner touching ok?
  • How is this related to the four color problem?

These are a few of my thoughts on just one of the many activities in this book.

Math is so much more than the arithmetic and algebra that many math-anxious people fear to this day.  Let’s find other math experiences to enjoy. So pick up a crayon, color pencil or watercolor brush pen and start coloring, creating, playing and wondering with Weltman’s wonderful magical (math) book. Or better yet, buy two, one for yourself and another for a math-anxious person you may know and spread the math+art love this holiday season.



Have a magical math book you’d like share? Please go to the Shared booklist to find out how.  If you’d like to receive these magical math book posts each Monday, be sure to follow this blog in the side bar of this page.

Thanks and see you next Monday! #mathbookmagic


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