Students often lose academic ground in the summer, especially in math. Researchers have found that students on average lose more than two months of math learning over the summer.
To help children feel confident in math at the start of the new school year, try some math activities at home. That may seem like a challenge, but kids can practice math in lots of fun, unexpected ways. For example, inexpensive board games that offer children experience with numbers on a die, counting, money collection and distribution are all wonderful, non-traditional ways to sharpen your child’s math skills. Card games are another great option!
Try a few of the activities below to ensure your child hits the ground running this school year.
This card game helps build math fluency by identifying number pairs in a deck that add up to 10, a key skill in mental addition and subtraction. Players line cards face up in a row of 10 and search for the pairs that add up to 10. When they spot such a pair, they call it and collect the cards. New cards go in the line. The player with the most pairs at the end of the game wins.
Basic Number Battle and Variations
The classic card game, also known as War, builds fluency with numbers by having players compare them. During each turn, the player with the card of greatest value facing up gets to keep the cards in the playing area. The winner is the player with the most cards at the end of the designated playing time or the person who has all the cards when play is over.
Hit the Target
This game helps reinforce the understanding of basic operations and the order of operations and helps children exercise mathematical reasoning skills. Using the cards in their hand, players write expressions on a piece of paper that equal a target number the dealer selects. The more cards players use in their expressions, the more points they earn. The player with the highest number of points at the end of the designated playing time or after a set number of rounds wins.
Creating art can be mathematical as well as fun. Give your child precut shapes, and ask her to use them to make a recognizable object, such as the top view of a turtle made of squares and triangles shown below. After your child has composed the figure, use a ruler to measure the figure’s perimeter, and then calculate its area. Young learners can calculate the area by simply counting the squares and triangles and giving the area as the total number of squares. Note that two triangles make one square. Older learners can calculate the area by finding the area of each component shape and then adding those areas together.
Track How Things Change Over Time.
If you still have access to a swimming pool, consider monitoring the distance between the water and the top of the pool each day. You can also measure the height of a plant in the garden each week or the temperature every hour throughout the day. Your child can track these measurements in a graph or a table and find the average rate of change over a set period. Help your child stay active by timing multiple runs from home plate to first base or from your home’s front door to the corner. Then calculate the average time, or evaluate how your child’s times changed from the first run to the last.
Add Math to Activities Your Child Enjoys.
Have your child plan a weekend outing to the movies or to play miniature golf. They could tally the admission fees, mileage, and gas consumption and ultimately find the total cost per person. Have them try calculating the expenses for an extended family trip in the same way.
Regardless of the activity, bringing numbers and numerical thought into conversations and family activities can help get students ready for school. And you don’t need to be a mathematician or a magician to pull it off. You just need to be up for some fun and games and a little learning along the way.
Danielle Goedel is a lead curriculum writer for Eureka Math™, developed by the nonprofit Great Minds®. She previously taught Grade 8 students, as well as advanced learners in Algebra I, for 15 years in Sherburne, NY.