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This book is viewable for free online. You can also order Nena's Math Force in a larger PDF version that's viewable on your computer at full screen and presentable on a projector. A workbook, worksheets and a certificate are included. This e-book (and supporting materials) may be ordered as a download, or as part of a Googol Power Online Membership.

Nena has had a bad day at school after doing poorly on a math quiz. Her uncle, El Mundo the Great Wizard soon realizes that Nena's math force is weak. Nena is determined to learn her arithmetic facts. El Mundo is concerned that Nena will rely only on memorization so he brings out his magic clock to call upon some Great Thinkers to help her out. With some help from Archimedes, Galileo, Da Vinci, Mozart and Cleopatra, Nena soon realizes that understanding math is much more than memorizing rules and that mathematics can be exciting.

I wrote this book to help children conceptualize (in a fun way) the need for learning the basics in math and to help them understand the importance of building a solid foundation. Children can visualize through an imaginary math force how math is learned in layers and that learning the basics will help them understand higher level mathematics later. Other concepts addressed include goal setting, ways to practice, and the need to develop an understanding of how numbers work together. For parents, this book presents ideas on how to approach teaching your own child math by helping them to discover patterns and asking thought provoking questions.

El Mundo's Math Force

Draw Your Own Math Force

Keep it in a special book and add new items to it as you learn new math concepts. Send us a picture of your own math force. We'd love to see it!

Understanding Numbers

Children need an understanding of what arithmetic is before they start trying to memorize facts. Make sure your child knows what addition, subtraction, multiplication and division are and how they are related.

Number sense also includes truly understanding how numbers work together. Exploring patterns and sequences, using manipulatives and discussing ways to find different solutions helps your child deepen their understanding.

Parents can teach their child important thinking skills by asking open ended questions so that their child makes discoveries on their own. Notice the questions that Leonardo, Galileo and Cleopatra ask as you read Nena's Math Force.

Discussion Questions

  • What does the statement, "On your math facts you can trust, an understanding is a must" mean?
  • What do you think it would be like if you grew up not understanding numbers?
  • Can you think of any times when a calculator or computer would not be handy?
  • Why is El Mundo worried that Nena will rely only on memorizing her facts?
  • What does El Mundo do to help Nena understand numbers?
  • What do the Great Thinkers do to help Nena understand more about numbers?
  • What do you think your math force looks like?
  • Have your child describe or draw their own math force.
  • How would you like to improve your math force?
  • Why is the math force described like a solar system and also like a tiny atom.
  • What similarities are there?
  • Discuss how learning comes in little steps and sometimes you have to go back and relearn a step.
  • Discuss how math is learned in layers and how you need to get a solid core and keep up.
  • Pretend you have a memory ball. Describe a time you would like to have known more math facts?
  • Have you ever done poorly on a test at school?
  • How did that make you feel?
  • Have you ever been nervous or panicked like Nena did during her test?
  • How can you overcome being so nervous?
  • Do you ever get lost when the teacher teaches you something?
  • What ways might you deal with being lost in a subject at school?
  • Have you ever had a calculator not work properly like Nena's three button?
  • What other mistakes can be made on calculators and computers?
  • Do you think Nena will need math when she becomes a wizard?
  • How might a wizard use math?
  • How is math used in other careers?
  • Ask people you know how they use math in their work or hobbies.
  • Is there a distraction monster in your home?
  • What does he distract you from?
  • What other topics might be listed in "The Big Book of Troubles"?
  • Talk about the lives of the Great Thinkers (Archimedes, Galileo, da Vinci, Mozart and Cleopatra). How do you think math was used in their lives or era?
  • How do you think math will be a part of the future?

Math Skills

  • Discuss and review the candy example 4x7 Yamyarns. Demonstrate that multiplication is also a form of repeated addition (7 groups of 4 can also be added 4+4+4+4+4+4+4).
  • With counters, you can also show the commutative property that 4x7 = 7x4 (the reverse is always the same rule).
  • Review or introduce math triangles to show the relationship among arithmetic operations. (Archimedes' visit)
  • Talk about the operation division. Show the many different ways it can be written. Make sure your child understands that the divisor and the dividend cannot be reversed (10/2 is not the same as 2/10). Show that division is a form of repeated subtraction.
  • Find patterns on the 100 chart and times table chart. Make special note of the reciprocal math facts on the times table chart. If your child knows 3x6, they also know 6x3. Show them that there are only half as many facts that they need to learn for both multiplication and addition.(Galileo's visit)
  • Talk about the properties of odd and even numbers. (Galileo's visit)
  • Show your child the nines trick on their fingers. Show them the patterns in nines and how they can check their answer with nines (the two numbers added together in the answer will add up to nine). (Galileo's visit)
  • Ask your child to explain their thought process. Have them think out other ways to get the same answer. (Leonardo da Vinci's visit)
  • Your child can discover prime numbers on their own through an exercise of working through all the equations on the times table chart and cross referencing it with the times table chart. (Mozart's visit)
  • Explore factors by breaking down a number to its smallest common factors. (Mozart's visit)
  • Find all the Factors for different products (Distraction Monster Practicing on chalkboard).

Life Skills

Goal Setting:
  • What did Nena do to achieve her goals?
  • Talk to your child about goal setting.
  • Ask your child if they have ever had any goals and how did they accomplish them.
  • Talk about goals and accomplishments that other members of the family have achieved.
  • Ask your child if they have any learning goals they would like to accomplish?
  • Ask your child how would they achieve their goals?
  • Suggest making up a plan to achieve a goal.
  • Have your child draw their own math force and use it as a goal setting tool to add in new math concepts as they learn them.
Memorization Techniques:
  • Why do you think it is important to know your math facts by heart?
  • Discuss memorization techniques.
  • What different boxes did Nena sort her flash cards into?(need to know, practice more, I know).
  • Talk about short term, intermediate term and long term memory.
  • What do you know that is in long term memory?
  • What fun ways would you like to memorize your math facts?
  • Are there other things you need to memorize? (i.e. spelling words, states or provinces, your telephone number and address)

Further Research

  • Lives of the historical characters
  • Inventions and discoveries
  • Other math principles shown in El Mundo's math force — fractions, decimals, logs, exponents, pi, square roots.
  • The new time terminology for CE (formerly AD) and BCE (formerly BC).
  • Patterns explored by Cleopatra (Fibonacci numbers, squares, cubes, exponents).