math cats contents

Reviews Other Honors
and Awards

reviewed in 101 Best Web Sites
for Elementary Teachers

(ISTE, 2005)
Math Cats

SITE DESCRIPTION:  Here'a very friendly Web site created for elementary and middle school students by teacher and mom Wendy Petti.  It's dedicated to helping them discover the logic and beauty of mathematics, rather than just drills and practice.  Packed full of original and powerful mathematics-based activities, Math Cats encourages playful exploration as well as deeper understanding.

Visitors to the site find eight doors, each providing entry to a different area.  Once you become familiar with the doors on the home page, navigate to Site Map and Info, which provides an extraordinarily informative and well-organized guide to Math Cats' main features.  This will help you decide which door to enter first.

HIGHLIGHTS FOR TEACHERS:  In Math Cats Explore, visitors may choose from more than 30 interactive, math-related activities that challenge their creativity and understanding.  Many helpful tips and ideas add variety to the activities.  Try the OBBL Architecture Blocks or Tessellation Town on Tile Island, or, from the home page, click on Math Cats Love MicroWorlds! to access more than two dozen interactive applets, all based on national standards.  Broken Calculator is particularly outstanding:  players must find different ways to construct a math problem to produce a given answer, and they must do so on a calculator where some of the keys don't work!

Perhaps the most original feature on this site is Math Crafts.  Here, visitors receive instructions for making offline craft projects based on mathematical and geometric principles.  Don't miss the small door marked 4 "Older" Cats.  This area is for teachers (and parents) and consists of Idea Banks - dozens and dozens of activities and resources suggested by teachers in 15 key areas of elementary math.  Visitors may also sign up for a free e-mail newsletter.

reviewed by James Lerman
© 2005, The International Society for Technology in Education

reviewed in the NCTM journal
Teaching Children Mathematics,
December 2003
News from the Net:
Exploring Mathematics with Math Cats

The Web site at offers playful explorations of mathematical ideas that will pique students' interest.  When they click on the welcoming cat, students are taken to a menu with a variety of options for students from the primary through middle-school levels.  They will find mathematics crafts, an art gallery, writing contests, and an attic full of mathematics definitions and trivia.  The most powerful part of the Web site, however, is the interactive applets that help students explore mathematics in a way that develops understanding.

NCTM's Learning Principle, backed by recent educational research, emphasizes the importance of developing conceptual understanding in the learning of mathematics.  The use of technology and interactive Web sites can help children develop conceptual understanding by allowing them to explore mathematics through reasoning and problem-solving.

Doors titled "Math Cats Explore" and "Math Cats Love MicroWorlds!" reveal interactive applets.  The applets are too numerous to list, but I will highlight some of my favorites.  In "Math Cats Explore," students can experiment with tessellations in "Tessellation Town on Tile Island."  In this activity, students tessellate fun figures such as houses, people, trees, fish, and seaweed.  After they explore the figures, students can learn how to create tessellating figures of their own by using any computer-drawing program.  The "Math Cats Explore" section also includes an interactive multiplication table.  Students select a multiplication problem on the 10 x 10 table; the problem then appears in a colorful rectangular area model that shows the sum of the rows of the array.

When students enter the door of "Math Cats Love MicroWorlds!" they will find applets for every Content Standard as well as activities just for fun, many involving problem solving.  For example, the "Broken Calculator" gives an answer and students must come up with a problem.  The trick is that various numbers and operation keys are missing.  The interactive projects in this section require the MicroWorlds Web Player plug-in, to which the site links.

Teacher and parent Wendy Petti, the site's creator, also offers a door titled "4 'Older' Cats."  Here, teachers and parents find an idea bank that includes approaches to mathematics instruction' mathematics activities for families, mathematics carnivals, and classroom mathematics centers; mathematics and literature connections; and activities for content topics.

This rich activity site offers mathematics students plenty to explore.

article by Kim Hughes
© 2003, The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics


Parents Information Network (PIN) evaluation of Math Cats (first posted November 2003)
evaluation © PIN 2003

Math Cats
Curriculum support
Reference material
Educational activities
Educational games
Guidance for parents
Supports numeracy
Fascinating mathematical facts
Intriguing activities
Interactive games
Idea Banks for parents

This site is fabulous.  It has something mathematical for everyone in the family and it is great fun.  Even if you or your child think you don’t enjoy maths, try a few activities here and you will have to think again.  Created by a US teacher, this collection of resources is truly amazing and it is well worth a visit.  It is hard to describe the appeal of the intriguing interactive explorations, but they are fascinating and will open your eyes to the potential of maths as a creative and stimulating subject.

The sections of the site include: Explore, with interactive investigations on many topics; MicroWorlds, full of turtle graphics (LOGO) projects; Math Crafts, with mathematical things to make; 4 Older Cats, with extensive Ideas Banks for parents and teachers; Art gallery, with cat themed art; Mailroom, with messages and reviews; Attic, with collections of fascinating mathematical facts.

The site is well designed and the content is well presented.  The graphics are excellent and the activities are innovative and engaging.

Anything Else:
To be able to use some of the interactive activities a free Micro Worlds Web Player plug-in had to be downloaded.  There is a link to the download page which has clear and full instructions. The download is simple and quick.

The best bits:
The best feature of this site is the range of mathematical areas covered in the many excellent interactive activities.

The weakest bits:
There are warnings on the site that some activities may strain the capabilities of your browser and one evaluator reported that several of the MicroWorlds activities seemed to hang their browser and had to be closed down.


Education World's Site Review of Math Cats, December 2003

Math Cats: Fun site for elementary kids on math concepts.
Grade Level: 3-5, 6-8

CONTENT: Math Cats is an interactive site devoted to giving students practice with math concepts that promote open-ended exploration.

AESTHETICS: The site has a consistent layout and color scheme with cute child friendly original graphics.  The Active-X MicroWorlds plug-in is needed for viewing the interactive projects and can be downloaded for free from the site.

ORGANIZATION: There are six main areas of the site that can be accessed through graphical links on the front page.  Each of the internal pages has a top navigation bar that includes a link back to the homepage.

REVIEW: Students of all ages will set their claws into this math site and spend many hours exploring math concepts in these online and offline activities.  This is not your typical drill and practice math site but one that encourages exploration and creativity and shows students that math can be fun.  Activities cover everything from the simple concepts of addition and subtraction to the more complex concepts of probability, statistics, and geometry. Students can explore shapes and patterns in the art gallery, see their age displayed in minutes and seconds, design spirographs, manipulate animations, send in their story problems for publication and much more.  The crafts section offers ideas and suggestions for students to explore geometry while making mobiles and ornaments that are great extensions of the learning in the classroom.  Math Cats Love MicroWorlds is full of interactive explorations that will increase children's knowledge of such concepts as probability, symmetry and polygons.  4 Older Cats (parents and teachers) offers an idea bank of math activities submitted by teachers and a free newsletter that includes archived editions.


Education World's Web Wizard feature - week of October 28, 2002

The (Math) Cat's Meow

"As an information technology teacher, I created a lot of interactive projects to help strengthen my students' math skills and understanding," Wendy Petti told Education World.  "We also visited many math sites online.  I have yet to see my ideal math site for kids.  On most sites, interactivity comes in the form of math games in which the hidden message seems to be 'Math is not fun in and of itself, so let's hide it in a game.'"

When Petti left the classroom two years ago, she began to develop a vision of a math site that would expand students' thinking about math; one in which the math was not cloaked in gimmicks.  In creating Math Cats, she wanted to present interactive projects that would allow students to explore and create with math in fresh, open-ended ways.

The most popular section of the site is Math Cats Explore the World.  Through these online and offline activities, and through the daily question on the home page's "magic chalkboard," Petti hopes to convey the idea that Math is everywhere!

"Teachers love the Math Crafts section for its fun ways to integrate math and art," Petti explained.  "Many teachers have students contribute math story problems or number stories."  The section For Older Cats contains idea banks of creative approaches to teaching math for both parents and teachers.  MicroWorlds, Petti's favorite section, offers projects that blend learning, creativity, and fun.  Projects include creating spider webs and snowflakes, designing geometric pictures with pattern blocks, and controlling animations.

"I hear from children, parents, and teachers from around the world," reported Petti.  "It means so much to me that Math Cats appeals to people of all ages.  I am proud that Math Cats has no ads, nothing for sale, and no sponsors.  It is my gift to society, a labor of love.  I hear from cat lovers, too!"

Article by Cara Bafile,
Education World®

. NCTM Illuminations
NCTM's Illuminations' site review posted: February 28, 2002
This website promotes open-ended and playful explorations of important math concepts in the context of online games, interactive applets, and activity suggestions.  Starting with the magic chalkboard, a student enters Math Cats to explore the worlds of polygons, large numbers, magic squares, and much more.  Students may view and submit artwork for the Math Cats art gallery and even send in their own story problems, questions, or ideas.  Unique and diverse online explorations are provided on the website.  For example, in the "Polygon Playground" students can investigate properties of similar polygons with the online manipulatives available.  Students will also enjoy the interactive applets (which use the MicroWorlds plug-in) on the website grouped under "Math Cats Love MicroWorlds!"  However, student discoveries do not have to stop at the computer; exploring geometry through the hands-on crafts and art activities presented under the Math Crafts section will provide a fun and challenging learning experience as well.

Older Cats (teachers, parents) will also benefit from Math Cats, finding the idea bank of math activities and resources suggested by other teachers to be particularly helpful.  Adults may choose to subscribe to the Math Cats News -- a free bimonthly e-mail newsletter featuring Math Cats site updates, annotated listings of other math sites that promote creative explorations, suggestions for family math activities and classroom activities, and good ideas from other educators.

reviewed in the NRICH Prime Kids' Mag and Staff Room,
May 2002
NRICH Prime Kids' Mag Review:

Math Cats

Do you like making things?  Are you the kind of person who enjoys exploring ideas and discovering things for yourself?  Do you like creating designs and patterns?  If you've answered yes to any of these questions then you'll love Math Cats.

You can find out how to make ornaments and decorations; play games; investigate patterns and shapes in Tessellation Town; draw maths art online with loops; create waves controlled by numbers ... And more!

If you like interactive challenges, then have a look at Math Cats love MicroWorlds.  Here you'll find plenty to keep you busy: Try the number riddles; estimate how many people are in the crowd or perhaps spiders' webs sound more your thing!  You just need to download the free MicroWorlds Web Player.

There are also pictures drawn using Logo in Math Cats' Art Gallery.  You can have a go at them yourself as all the codes are given.  You can even send in something you've done.  You may like to delve into Math Cats' Attic where there are loads of quiz questions.  Why not remember some to ask your friends?

Look out for Story Problems, a new section in Math Cats Explore.  Try out these problems which have all been sent in by children.

While you're there, drop in on the Math Cats' Mailroom and write a message to the Math Cats.  Send in maths stories, pictures and story problems, or tell them what you think of the site.  They love to get mail!

NRICH Prime Staff Room Review:

Math Cats is a site produced by Wendy Petti who has had many years' experience as a classroom teacher in the US, more recently specialising in IT.  She explains that the site has been "created for children to promote open-ended and playful exploration of important maths concepts".  This is a very accurate summary of the material you will find there.

The site is packed with absorbing mathematically based activities.  Children can make ornaments and mobiles, explore patterns and shapes in Tessellation Town, design spirographs, use a virtual oscilloscope .... The list goes on.  There is an interactive multiplication grid and information in the form of conversion charts, even an age calculator.  The new Story Problems section in Math Cats Explore gives children a chance to answer problems written by their peers.  You could also encourage them to send in their own for others to try.

In Math Cats' Art Gallery, pictures created using logo are posted.  The codes are available and children's contributions are welcomed.  Math Cats' Attic contains questions based on maths that would be ideal for a classroom quiz.  Math Cats Love MicroWorlds is full of interactive investigations and challenges that will help further children's understanding of concepts such as estimation, probability and equivalence.  This part of the site requires MicroWorlds Web Player, which can be downloaded free.

Support is given for teachers and parents in the "4 Older Cats" section, where you can also look at copies of the monthly email newsletter.  Additional material is to be added here very shortly.  Wendy Petti is currently working on a new project for Math Cats which will include interviews with people who use maths in creative ways within their profession.

Math Cats would be a fantastic site for children to explore both in school and at home.  The high proportion of interactive content facilitates independent discovery and learning, yet all the activities would stimulate high quality mathematical discussion, whether this was with an adult or amongst children themselves.

The wealth of ideas contained here presents maths in a creative, lively environment that is certain to appeal to children.

reviewed in Math Forum's
Dec. 2000 e-newsletter
MATH CATS - Wendy Petti

A site for children that promotes open-ended and playful explorations of important math concepts.  Start with the magic chalkboard, then enter Math Cats MicroWorlds (interactive projects); explore the world of polygons, polyhedra, large numbers, magic squares, lissajous, and more; view and submit artwork for the Math Cats art gallery; or enter the Math Cats' Attic (an archive of past questions and answers from the magic chalkboard).  Children are invited to e-mail the site drawings, story problems, questions, or ideas.  Older Cats (teachers, parents) will find an idea bank of math activities and resources suggested by teachers, and may subscribe to the Math Cats News, a free twice-monthly e-mail newsletter featuring Math Cats site updates, annotated listings of other math sites that promote creative explorations, suggestions for family math activities and classroom activities, and good ideas from other educators.

reviewed on the Tech Learning website of the Technology and Learning Network,
May 13, 2002
Math Cats

Brief Description of the Site:
Math Cats promotes creative, open-ended explorations of important math concepts through activities such as Tessellation Town, Polygon Playground, What a Crowd, Exploding Math Art and much more.

How to use the site:
In addition to the many online interactive math activities, there are also printable activities for offline concept development (such as hexagon-shaped fact family cards to be used with a collection of offline fact family activities).  There is a section of math crafts with instructions for making 2D and 3D art projects using math.  There are also idea banks for teachers with lots of creative approaches to teaching math and links to useful resources.

reviewed in Primary Mathematics,
Spring 2001, issued by the Mathematical Association of the United Kingdom
Math Cats

A site created for children - wonderful design, amusing, amazing - emphasis on design and mathematics, but many other aspects included.

Suitable for years 4 to 6, selectively with Year 3, and possibly Year 2 - also suitable for any adult who enjoys mathematics and design.

This image was created in the interests of sharing and promoting Logo. Lots more logo designs are to be found on the web-site, including the coding.
The site was created only last September by Wendy Petti and is a one- person operation, but it is already a tremendously innovative and quite amazing place to visit.

The site is packed with content and yet it is easy for children to navigate and explore on their own. When my class first met this site their initial reaction was to dart about all over the place.  Then came the calls of "look at this... have you tried this... this one's good...."  I sat back and let them get on with it.  They compiled lists of their favourite sections which varied according to interests and they were soon busy carrying out their own investigations.

In the Microworlds section, (requires a free downloadable plug-in) - fractions, maths art, riddles, polygon maker, symmetry, multiplication rods and grid - and much more - and all interactive.

The Explorations area contains some quite amazing graphics which can be changed to produce different effects.

The mathematics behind some of the designs are beyond primary level, (in fact beyond me) - but the designs and how you can control the effect are well worth the exploration.  The 'Exploding Math Art' had the whole class stunned for ages as they tried different effects.

A new area added to the site is 'Tessellation Town' - "In a faraway land, in the Sea of Same, if you know where to look, you will find a tiny town on a tiny island, where the sky is always blue and everything fits together perfectly...."  Many different pages then show tessellating shapes which you can drag and fit together - ideal exploration for Y2 to Y6.

One area suitable for younger juniors, 'Haunted Hill' is not available until October - my Year 6 class will have moved on by then, but many of them have said they will be back to take a look.

From this write-up you might get the idea that I'm very impressed - it gives a new meaning to WWW - Wendy's Wonderful Work!

One of the jokes on this site - it might be an old one (?) but I haven't seen it before and it made me titter:-

Why is 6 afraid of 7?
Because 7 8 9

reviewed by Malcolm Sanders,
Editor, Primary Mathematics

reviewed on
March 11, 2001
Former teacher adds fun, creativity to math games
By Joseph Szadkowski

English logician and philosopher Bertrand Russell wrote in 1917, "The true spirit of delight, the exaltation, the sense of being more than man, which is the touchstone of the highest excellence, is to be found in mathematics as surely as poetry."

A former teacher with no Web-design experience has taken this quotation to heart and started a one-woman crusade to make mathematics a dazzling display of fun.  Trying to concentrate less on the mundane and more on the fantastic, her cyber-stop turns the study of numbers and relationships into an eye-popping adventure.

Math Cats
Site address:

Math Cats, based in Bethesda, sprang to life on the Web in late September through the solo efforts of Wendy Petti.

Creator quotable:
"I created Math Cats to stimulate children's creative explorations with math, not for drill and practice.  I'd like children to use math in new and exciting ways, such as creating geometric designs," Mrs. Petti says.

"I also post the simple procedures used to create most of the MicroWorlds Logo projects, hoping some children will try their hand at programming in this easy, powerful language.  After many years as a classroom teacher, I've got a lot of creative ideas to share with parents and teachers as well as children."

Word from the Webwise:
Before visiting this site, users should do two things.  First, they should make sure they are using an up-to-date browser — Internet Explorer or Netscape versions 4 or higher — with plenty of computer memory.

Second, they should download and install the MicroWorlds Web Player plug-in.  The installation could be a bit tricky depending on the computer.  I suggest reading all of the instructions carefully.  Visitors will need this plug-in to enjoy about 40 percent of the site's activities.

Those brave enough to continue will find a world of numbers in perpetual motion that spends as much time boggling the mind as filling the cranium with information.

The opening page loads math-related questions on a chalkboard.  To reveal the answer, simply wave the mouse's cursor over the randomly placed letters in the center of the board.  The letters magically move together and form the answers to nuggets such as "What is the math term for a polyhedron shaped like a soccer ball?" (A truncated icosahedron.)

Almost 100 other questions grouped by subjects such as "Math in Astronomy" or "Math in History" can be found under the "Math Cats Attic" archive.

The site's two main sections sport a feline motif and use mainly computer-based magic to demonstrate real-world applications of numbers.

A stop by "Math Cats Explore the World" reveals 14 activities featuring calculators, random generators and the artistic uses of shapes, patterns and symmetry.  Just exploring the list of items can produce a giggle as a floating, blinking cat head follows the cursor around the page.

The infamous "Math Cats Loves MicroWorlds" section provides 19 applications using the plug-in mentioned above.  Some impressive simulations include a money-counting activity using currency art elements that can be dragged to an area and counted automatically, a coin-flipping demonstration showing probability, and a game using a grid to illustrate multiplication problems.

Ease of use:
Mrs. Petti understands that her site might be a bit taxing on certain browser or computer configurations and clearly spells out potential conflicts before visitors try to load an activity.  Overall, she is off to an impressive start, and I would expect unbelievable things from Math Cats by this time next year.

Don't miss:
Stop by Mrs. Petti's newest adventure, Tesselation Town on Tile Island.  'In a faraway land in the seas of same, if you know where to look, you will find a tiny town on a tiny island, where the sky is blue and everything fits together perfectly.'  This prologue leads explorers to areas that can be formed or arranged using multisided icons in a checkered or mosaic pattern.  A blank pallet is presented with a set of colored elements, which, when dragged into place, create a pretty picture.  The art-gallery element grabbed from an M.C. Escher creation was really fun to manipulate.

Family activity:
Teachers should stop by the "Idea Bank" for loads of concepts from fellow educators on a wide variety of math concepts.  Parents might have their children create geometric space forms called polyhedra using a compass, straight edge, stiff paper, scissors, glue or rubber cement, yarn and paper clips.  Children will learn, with the help of Fatso the cat, how to make tetrahedrons, hexahedrons, octahedrons, decahedrons and icosahedrons.

Cyber-sitter synopsis:
The hard-core math student will not find many deep educational opportunities here, but creative children learning about the applications of mathematics will love the site.  The child in me spent hours making virtual spirographs and exploding math art while learning a bit about graphing and wave theory.

reviewed on May 3, 2005
Math Cats         age

This fun site features an array of open-ended math activities.

Entertainment Value: Medium
Graphics: Cartoon
Playability: Easy to medium
Reading Level: Elementary

Common Sense Note:

There is no advertising on the site. Developed by a teacher with more than eighteen years' experience, Math Cats features an array of open-ended math activities (rather than drill and practice). Enjoy.

Common Sense Review:

Reviewed By: Jean Armour Polly

Did you ever try to balance a fat cat with a donkey? It can't be done unless you try the magic scale at Math Cats. There, you can multiply and divide what's on each side of the scale until balance is achieved. (Hint: seven fat cats perfectly equals one eleventh of a donkey.) Try it with the planet Earth versus a pyramid. There are plenty of hints and ideas to explore the relative weights of these unusual items.

Now that you've had some practice with balancing things, try your hand at creating a virtual mobile. Click and drag to adjust the size of the arms, vertical strings, and weights. It's a lot of fun, but can you get it to do exactly what you want?

Experiment with polygons, symmetry, and tessellations in the "Math Crafts" area, and -- with a special free browser plug-in -- explore MicroWorlds of interactive math (or art?) activities.

Wherever you go in Math Cats, it all adds up to fun.

Reviewed 05/03/2005

Gifted Child Today
Fall 2004
Math Cats -

The Math Cats Web site is devoted to math activities, crafts, and games aimed at younger children.  The graphics are fun and eye-catching and make the site easy to navigate for novice Web surfers.  Some of the math games include 3-D Tic-Tac-Toe, Triominos, and Tetris.  Some of the math crafts include creating a number city or a polygon airport out of construction paper.  Also highlighted are instructions for making hexagrams and symmetrical word designs.  The Math Cat's Attic is a collection of past questions that address topics such as math terminology, math history, math in sports, and math in the human body.  Finally, there is the Math Cat's Art Gallery, where children can have their mathematical artwork posted.

Talking Hands Award
April 2004
Math Cats

Let's start our review with the word lavish, which helps a prospective visitor to visualize the design detail which is pleasing to the senses and accommodates our visually impaired, even as we switch to the grayscale.  Practical would explain the application through the excellent quizzes, games and other activities guiding us through events we encounter in our daily lives.  Magical would explain the chalk board and attic which give a visitor answers with the "swoosh" of a mouse pointer.  The web site creation in our opinion rivals any commercial math software we have used in raising our four children.

Reviewer, D. H.


reviewed on
January 28, 2001

Math Cats

Math Cats injects some fun into kids' math studies with puzzles, interactive projects, contests and printable activities that offer entertaining ways to explore a sometimes intimidating subject.  You'll need to download the free MicroWorlds plug-in for the projects, which cover everything from using money to multiplication.  Before downloading, you can see descriptions and screenshots of the programs.  A "magic" chalkboard poses math-related questions that will likely stump even the most math-proficient parents.

Bottom line: Learning math is fun at this highly interactive site.