Last week I listed some tips on how to help kids maintain their skill level over the summer when it comes to reading. This week I thought I’d do the same thing for math. It can be quite a challenge to try to come up with activities that utilize math skills and seem fun and engaging to kids. I mean, let’s be brutally honest here: math is not the first thing that comes to either parents’ or children’s minds when thinking of fun summer activities. But here are some ideas to get you started:
Using big cookies, tortillas, or some other round flat food like a pizza, cut the food into quarters, eighths, etc. with your kids and help them see how often fractions are used to create serving sizes in their favorite foods. Throw some rectangular foods into the mix to show kids that the method of making fractions applies to more than one kind of shape. Then let the kids take turns being a “waiter” while the other kids place orders using fractions. (As in, “I would like ¼ of the chocolate cookie, 3/8 of the sugar cookie and 1/8 of the pizza.”) Make a game of it to see who gets it right.
Recipe Math to the Max
Cook with your kids and teach them how to follow written recipes. This is a great way to brush up on reading and math. Take it a step further and teach them how to double, triple, or halve simple recipes and show them how to do the math to make it work. Be sure to supervise to avoid any unwanted kitchen catastrophes. (Hint: Some websites like allrecipes.com will let you find a recipe, enter the number of servings you would like to produce and they will calculate the changes for you…if you need to check the math, this could be a great resource.)
Fitness Goal Charts
Help your kids set some reasonable performance goals for the summer for any physical activities that they enjoy, such as swimming, bike riding, hiking, jumping rope, etc. Encourage them to use a graph or chart to keep track of their progress each week (or each day that they do the activity). This can help keep them motivated to reach their goals, graphing their progress helps them see real-world applications of things they’ve learned in the classroom. Take it a step further and use their charts to teach them to predict trends in performance to see how long it will take to reach a certain fitness goals.
Multiplication Challenge Card Games
Write simple multiplication fact problems using numbers from 1 to 10 on some index cards. To play, two children will shuffle the cards and divide them into two equal stacks, one stack per player. Each player will then turn over the top card and call out the answer to his or her multiplication question. The player with the higher answer wins the round and earns both cards. If either player gives an incorrect response, he or she will automatically lose the round. If both players responded correctly, the cards will be returned to the bottom of each player’s deck and play continues. If both players cards have the same value, place three cards facedown, and one face up. The player whose face up card has the highest value wins all 10 cards. (Like the game War, but with multiplication). The game is over when either player loses all his or her cards. The player with the most cards wins. This game idea is courtesy of this website.
Variation: This game is for two players. Use a regular deck of cards. Remove the face cards and set them aside, you don’t need them for this game. Shuffle, deal, and play the cards as if you were playing the game War, but instead of the highest card winning, the player who can add or multiply the two numbers on the cards first wins the hand. (For instance, if one player played a two of hearts and the other played an eight of clubs, the winner would be the first one to say that 8×2=16.) The player with the most cards wins.
Forcing children to read or do math at any time usually has a negative result. The real trick is to find books and math activities that are of high interest to your child. For example, kids who are excited about a sport like baseball could be encouraged to follow the statistics of their favorite teams, learn how to figure batting averages, and how many games need to be won to make the playoffs. Alternately you can find short lessons to show kids how math is an important part of everyday life.
For even more fun ideas, log on to http://www.mathplayground.com. This site has activities for grades One through Six, and even a free iPad app called “Shuttle Mission Math.” Let’s all have a fun, productive summer!