Math is one of my least favorite subjects. However, I have two kids that absolutely love it to the point that they beg to do extra math lessons almost daily. That’s weird, right? I mean…who does that? Apparently my kids. I blame their father (my husband). My kids even enjoy watching movies and shows about math. If you are on the hunt for math movies or math shows for kids, you’ll discover some great ones in our list.
This post is part of the Educational Shows by Subject Series
What if my child hates math?
Yes, I have kids who love math, but my other two homeschool aged kids do not at all enjoy math. One completely loathes it and the other is pretty indifferent, so long as it doesn’t take too long or require too much from her. She might be my child. I was never terrible at math, but it definitely wasn’t my favorite subject.
However, I have found that inspiring them with games, rhymes and even movies about math helps them not only learn the concepts but sometimes even understand them better. My little ones watch several television shows that promote early math learning, so of course, I needed to search for math shows and movies for the older kids too.
True Stories about Mathematicians
I was surprised at the number of movies I found promoting math or based on the true story of a mathematician. And while there were much more than the ones I have listed here, many of them were not ones I would allow my own children to watch, so I would never pass them on to you as resources. However, a quick search for movies about mathematicians will give you quite a few more if you so choose.
Use Math Movies and Shows to Understand the Why Behind Math
Math is such a complex subject that it intimidates many children. Show students just how useful it can be through these movies – many based on true stories. These movies and shows about math may help your math-hating child understand the why behind having to learn math.
Which movie features a mathematical genius?
If you are looking for a movie that features a mathematical genius, then you might want to preview “A Beautiful Mind.” It’s rated PG-13, so not suitable for younger children, but your older kids might enjoy it. I haven’t watched it, so you’ll want to read the parents guide first.
Movie Response Pack
When you incorporate movies about math, you can turn it into school using our free Movie Response Template Pack.
This simple, but fun Movie Response Template Pack is the perfect print-and-go resource for kids of all ages. It offers printables for noting information about the movie, character highlights, illustrations, and more. There is also a book and movie comparison just in case you want to send your kids on a journey of highlighting similarities and differences between the movie and book (if there is a book too!). Scroll to the end of this post to get download access.
Math Movies for Kids
Our family has enjoyed many math movies, likely because we have some math-loving kids and I have a math-genius husband. Even if your family all loathes math, watching math shows can help make it more palatable to them and introduce math topics that they may actually find interesting.
NOTE: Shows should always be reviewed by a parent first. We do not make any claims to know what is appropriate for your child(ren), that is totally your call. Please review these shows to make sure they align with your family values.
Team Umizoomi – If you haven’t seen this shows, you probably don’t have a preschooler. All of my kids have enjoyed this show at one time or another. It has literally helped teach them colors, shapes and even counting skills. This is a great pre-math show for kids. There are 4 seasons in total.
Peg + Cat – If you have little ones, this is another adorable showing kids that math is literally everywhere. Peg goes on imaginary adventures with her cat to places like New York City’s Radio Music Hall, a land of pirates, to farms and purple planets and more. NOTE: This show does travel to “prehistoric” times, so some episodes might not fit your family world view.
Cyberchase – This is another math shows for kids that my children loved. My kids have mostly watched this on PBS kids over the years. In this show, the main characters are always solving math problems and strategies to save Cyberspace from Hacker, their arch-nemesis.
Odd Squad – My kids still love this math show. In fact, they love this show so much, I’m pretty sure they’ve seen every single episode at least twice. Kids will follow agents Otto and Olive as they work through unusual issues and missions as they arise in their town.
Math Music Videos that Teach – Songs make learning fun! At least they do for my kids. These short videos will help make math fun by teaching tricks through songs. You’ll find multiplication, 3D shapes, place value, geometry, angles, fractions, the order of operations and MUCH more! These math shows for kids will probably become a favorite – especially if your children enjoy learning with songs and music.
Numb3rs – This is an older TV show that my husband and I loved to watch together. And while I’m not a mathematician, it was fascinating to see how math might just possibly help lead to captures. That being said, it was such a fun show to watch. NOTE: Because of the nature of some of the content, it may not be suitable for younger children. I would use extreme caution before viewing in your home.
Teach your children at a young age that math can be fun and encourage them, even if they dread math. Math movies can make it seem more relatable to them; they can see how we use it in everyday situations. These are the best math movies we have enjoyed together.
NOTE: Movies should always be reviewed by a parent first. We do not make any claims to know what is appropriate for your child(ren), that is totally your call. Please review these movies to make sure they align with your family values.
Math Movies for Kids
Matilda (PG) – My kids love this movie. It is such a sweet story of an adorable little girl that turns out to be extremely smart but lives in a terrible family situation. However, she is gifted in math, which may inspire some kids to see that being smart isn’t silly or nerdy. NOTE: The main character does have “powers” so if that bothers you, stay away from this movie.
Queen of Katwa (PG) – I have not seen this one, but it sounds like a great movie. I have not seen this one, but it sounds like a great movie. Queen of Katwe is a story about a young girl named Phiona Mutesi, who lives in rural Uganda. She dreams of becoming a chess champion, but she doesn’t have access to a chess board. Her family is poor, and they cannot afford to buy one. So, she decides to create her own.
From Amazon “Disney presents Queen of Katwe, a movie based on a vibrant true story starring Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo. A Ugandan girl’s life changes forever when she discovers she has an amazing talent for chess in this celebration of the human spirit.”
Donald in Mathmagic Land (NR) – If your kids like Donald Duck, then they’re sure to love this adorable animated short film. From Amazon: “A curious Donald Duck ventures into a mystical world of fantasy. Mathmagic Land is his destination — a wondrous land of discovery where trees have square roots and rivers are brimming with numbers! During his lively journey, Donald discovers that you can have mirth with math, fun with fractions, and laughs with logic in this fascinating and timeless milestone in Disney’s animation legacy — now on DVD!”
Stand and Deliver (PG) – This is the story of Jaime Escalante, a high school math teacher in East LA. He believed that his students had potential, so he took them out of their comfort zone and taught them advanced calculus. His unorthodox methods helped many of his students pass the AP Calculus test.
Nova: The Great Math Mystery (PG) – NOVA: The Great Math Mystery explores the origins of mathematics. Is math invented by humans, like we think, or is it the natural language of the universe? This film explores the history of mathematics. From Pythagoras to Einstein, mathematicians have tried to answer this question. And they’ve made discoveries along the way.
The Story of Maths (G) – The Story Of Maths is a four part British documentary series about the history of mathematics. It covers topics such as the invention of Zero, the unproven Riemman Hypothesis, the Pythagorean theorem, the Fibonacci sequence, the Golden Ratio, calculus, probability theory, geometry, trigonometry, topology, number theory, algebra, linear algebra, complex numbers, real numbers, vector spaces, groups, rings, fields, algebras, Lie groups, Lie algebras, differential equations, dynamical systems, chaos theory, fractals, the Mandelbrot set, prime numbers, cryptography, quantum mechanics, string theory, and general relativity.
Math Movies and Shows for Older Kids:
If you have older students, having them watch math movies or movies about mathematicians can help them not hate math so much (and perhaps help encourage them in their mathematical skills!). I am always telling my children that you need math every single day of your adult lives. Watching movies about math show our kids that this is in fact a true statement. Whether you are looking for a movie that is about a real mathematician or just something that may inspire your family to not hate math, there are lots of options.
It can be challenging to find math-related movies, but you can find many great ones that your whole family will enjoy!
Math Movies for Kids
The following list are the best mathematics movies we have enjoyed with middle school students or older:
Hidden Figures (PG) – I know I’ve mentioned this movie before, but it is too good not to mention again for math. It is literally one of my all-time favorite movies. African-American women at NASA – Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson are featured in this real life math movie. And while it is only rated PG, I have it listed for the older kids because I feel like the subject matter would go over their heads. Kevin Costner is fabulous in this move, as is Taraji P. Henson, Katherine Johnson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe. Parents Guide
Moneyball (PG-13) – This movie starring Brad Pitt is based on the book of the same name by Michael Lewis. It shows how Oakland A’s Athletic Director, Billy Beane, used mathematics to help him assemble a team on shoestring budget by using computer-generated analysis for drafting. Parents Guide
Stand and Deliver (PG) – Based on a true story story of the life of an East Los Angeles math teacher, Jaime Escalante, who challenges the system and typical stereotypes in his school to encourage them and raise the standard of life for his inner-city students by teaching them calculus. While only rated PG, this is an older movie, so I would caution parents to view this first themselves or use the Parents Guide to help you determine if this is suitable for your own children.
October Sky – This is the perfect math movie for a student in middle school. It’s the true story of Homer Hickam and shows how hard work pays off and gives real-life examples of how and why math is important.
Math Movies for Middle School
The Man Who Knew Infinity (PG-13) – I have not seen this one, but it has great reviews. From Amazon: “In 1913, Srinivasa Ramanujan (Dev Patel), a self-taught Indian genius, traveled to Cambridge where he forged a lifelong bond with his eccentric math professor, G.H. Hardy (Jeremy Irons), while fighting a world that refused to acknowledge his achievements.” Parents Guide
The Story Of One – In this 2014 math documentary, host Terry Jones explores the incredible story of the natural numbers. He reveals the fascinating history behind the number 1, and shows how it has shaped our culture and society.
Back to the Future (PG) – Marty McFly, a high school student, is sent 30 years into the past accidentally by his friend, the maverick scientist Doc Brown. Marty must help Doc Brown use a complex equation to build a time machine out of a DeLorean car.
The Imitation Game (PG-13) – The Imitation Game is a fascinating story about teamwork and persistence. It is also an excellent introduction to the field of Mathematics. This should be screened by parents as there is some controversial content.
Math Movies for High School
Other possible math movies for older students that may need parental screening.
These are other popular math movies that may not be suitable for students due to language or other factors:
A Beautiful Mind (PG-13) – (Starring Russel Crowe, Duston Hoffman)- A Beautiful Mind is more than just an intriguing story about a paranoid mathematician, its shares several examples of how math really is beautiful as well as how it applies in our everyday lives.
Mathematics Movie “21” (PG-13) – (Starring Kevin Spacey) – Inspired from the real life events of two MIT students who were able to master the art of card counting at Las Vegas casinos and made millions of dollars. They need to count cards to determine if there will be a winning streak or not. To keep track of the cards, they create a complex system of counters and timers. Their goal is to beat the casino and win big. But when they start losing, they realize that they might lose everything.
Proof (PG-13) (Starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Anthony Hopkins) – This movie is about Catherine (Gwyneth Paltrow) and her father, renowned and brilliant mathematician Robert (Anthony Hopkins). It’s a twisted tale of suspense that has some strong content. Parental screening is recommended.
A Brilliant Young Mind (PG-13) – (Starring Asa Butterfield) – This movie is about an autistic boy named Max who struggles with his parents’ expectations and the pressure he feels to succeed academically. Mathematics and math concepts are woven throughout the movie.
Good Will Hunting (R) – (Starring Matt Damon and Robin Williams) – Will Hunting is an odd character. He lives in a small town in Massachusetts, and works as a janitor at MIT. He doesn’t seem to fit in anywhere. He has a gift for math, but he isn’t very smart. But there is something special about him. He thinks differently than everyone else.
Using Math Movies to Teach Math Concepts
Math movies are great for teaching children about numbers and concepts like fractions, decimals, percentages, ratios, proportions, and even geometry! Math-themed movies can also help parents understand what their child is learning at school. For example, if your child is struggling with multiplication, watching a movie about multiplying two numbers together could help him/her understand the concept.
Free Movie Response Template Pack Download
Grab our free movie response template pack to use in your homeschool, either during or at the end of the movie. It would be a great way to document the educational journey you take as you dive into moves about wars and documentaries about military excursions.
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Annette has been married to her husband and best friend since 2003. Together they are raising their six children to follow the Lord’s will, no matter what. Annette longs for the day when she will meet her angel babies who have entered heaven before her. She enjoys creating UNIT STUDIES and FREE PRINTABLES for homeschool families. You can follow her crazy life at In All You Do where she blogs about homeschooling, homemaking and marriage while trying to maintain her sanity. She is also the owner of Thrifty Homeschoolers where she shares her tips on homeschooling without breaking the bank.
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