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).
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 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.
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 will give you quite a few more if you so choose.
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.
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 show my kids love to watch. 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 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!
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.
Math Movies for Younger Kids:
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.
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. 0 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. 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!”
FOR OLDER KIDS:
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. 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. Parents Guide
Moneyball (PG-13) – This movie is based on the book of the same name by Micheal 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 the true story of an East Los Angeles mathematics 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.
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