10 Creative Ways to Sharpen Summer Math Skills
May 22, 2015
Today we feature a guest blog from Cait Fitz, a school psychologist, homeschooling parent, and the voice behind the blog, My Little Poppies. We asked her to give us some pointers to make summer math fun.
One year ago, we found ourselves suddenly, unexpectedly, homeschooling our eldest son. I knew it was the right path for our family, but the thought of teaching math filled me with my math anxiety of old.
I’ll never forget the moment that those fears were squelched. It was Memorial Day weekend last year and we were spending the holiday at my parents’ condo in the mountains. Well, my parents’ place is on a small golf course – which had yet to open for the season- and the kids thought to have a golf ball scavenger hunt. Together, they found 112 golf balls, plus a bunch of tennis balls for good measure. Then, on their own, they started sorting the various balls and then grouped them by tens, and then by fives, to see if they could make even groups. I sat there, amazed, as I watched the math happen before my eyes.
That was the moment I realized that math is everywhere if you are willing to see it.
Today, I’d like to share 10 creative ways to sharpen summer math skills.
1. SCAVENGER HUNTS
You don’t have to be on vacation near a golf course to see math take place before your eyes, folks. Any sort of scavenger hunt will do. Head out in the backyard and go on a nature hunt and then count, sort, and group your treasures. Are you headed to the beach? See who can collect the most seashells and then do the same.
2. CARD GAMES AND BOARD GAMES
I am a huge fan of board games. Every time you play a game with your child you are working on summer math skills and boosting those problem-solving abilities. Play Monopoly with your child and let her be the banker. Teach your kids to play chess and they’ll be developing strategic thinking abilities. Dice, dominoes, even the game of war can be educational and fun!
3. PLAY STORE
My children love to set up our playroom like a store, get out the paper money and plastic coins, grab a few reusable shopping bags, and play store. In addition to teaching math skills, you can sneak in some early awareness of money and finances.
4. CREATE YOUR OWN RESTAURANT
This is one of my kiddos’ favorite activities. And, let’s be honest here, who doesn’t want a little help making dinner? Why not let your children do the work from start to finish. Sure, it might be a little messier than usual but you’ll be creating memories to last a lifetime and your children will be learning valuable life and math skills! Here’s how to do it:
- Allow your children to decide on dinner. They’ll need to find recipes (reading skills) and make a shopping list and a menu (writing skills).
- Take them to the grocery store and let them do the work. This includes actually paying for the shopping order. Think of all the reading, problem solving, and math skills involved in that activity alone.
- Set them loose in the kitchen! Let them follow the recipes and do all of the measuring themselves. Think of all the math involved in cooking and baking.
5. HAVE A LEMONADE STAND
There’s nothing like an old-fashioned lemonade stand on a hot summer day. Your child will learn valuable summer math skills in the process, including pricing, measurement, making change, and determining profit. Take it one step further and have a lemonade stand for a cause. Once your child adds up all those quarters, decide on a cause that is dear to your family and make someone’s day.
6. LETTERBOXING OR GEOCACHING
Have you heard of letterboxing? It’s an outdoor recreational activity where folks hide weatherproof boxes in public places (ie., parks, hiking trails, etc.) for others to find, based on clues found online. This is a wonderful way to combine nature, fitness, and problem solving. Geocaching takes letterboxing to the next level by using GPS. There are millions of letterboxes and geocaches hidden around the world and it’s up to you to find them! (A bit of parental oversight, of course, is needed.)
Why not develop summer math skills by trying a new instrument? There has been a lot of talk over the years about the link between music and mathematics. Musical training can help with sequencing, pattern recognition, memory, and attention skills. And do you want to know the best part? Music is fun– your kids won’t even know that they are fine-tuning those math skills!
I don’t know about your kids, but mine love any opportunity to use grown-up tools and materials. Why not set them loose with measuring cups, ruler, yardstick, and scale- whatever you can scrounge up around the house- and see what happens? Measurement is a fun way to sneak in math, plus it helps with those cooking skills and who doesn’t want more help in the kitchen? Are you planting a garden? Why not involve the kids. Gardening with kids involves measurement, plus it can be fun to chart how fast those plants grow!
9. PLAY SPORTS
Have a family soccer game and take turns being the scorekeeper. That’s math, folks! Do you have a kiddo who is obsessed with baseball? Talk about all those stats you see throughout the course of a game: batting average, ERA, RBI, CG… I could go on and on and on. Compare your team’s stats to those of your opponent. You’ll be squeezing in a math lesson as you root, root, root for your home team!
10. STEM, STEM, STEM!
You can’t go anywhere these days without hearing STEM talk. And do you want to know why? STEM careers (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) are among the fastest-growing and most lucrative professions around. There are countless ways to incorporate STEM to sharpen summer math skills, from books to games to toys.
Hopefully this list has given you some ideas to sharpen summer math skills.
Cait Fitz is a school psychologist and mom to three amazing little people. She chronicles her unexpected journey into homeschooling at My Little Poppies. Cait is also a contributor at Year Round Homeschooling. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.
Thank you for reading The Educated Mom, the official blog of Mindprint Learning.