Here’s a fun list of ideas to encourage math during the Christmas or Summer Break:
- Challenge others or challenge yourself. Online math strategy games at Calculation Nation provide a safe environment for elementary and middle school students to challenge themselves and challenge others. Games involve fractions, factoring, symmetry and comparing perimeter and area! Give your kids graph paper and tell them to create a dream house up to X square feet. To be extra challenging, limit the square footage of a single room.
- Play strategy games with friends and family. A great way to spend quality time. Games such as Contig, and other free board games. Play as teams while learning so you can talk about strategy and then move playing individually. Try something like Scrabble, but skip the calculator when totaling each player’s score.
- Talk to your children’s teachers before the break. Ask questions that show you are concerned about their development and maintenance of mathematics skills and fluency. For example, ask, “What do you see as my child’s strengths and weaknesses in math? What could we do while at home to develop or improve his/her weakest areas?” There are probably fun class activities or games that you could replicate a home.
- Read books that contain mathematics content with your children. There are books at every grade level that can engage students in thinking about math! Some suggestions include Ten Apples Up On Top! (elementary) or The Great Number Rumble: A Story of Math in Surprising Places (middle grades). Want classroom activities to support math and literature? Check out Exploring Mathematics through Literature: Articles and Lessons for Prekindergarten through Grade 8. Head to your local public library and challenge your kids to find 3 or 4 books with math concepts (and ask them to defend their choices).
- Create a number book with your child. Use this template with your preschooler or kindergartner and have them decorate each page with pictures, stickers or stamps (or even glue beads or macaroni) that show the number on the page. For more advanced students, ask them to write expressions that equal the target number. For example, for the number 6, they could write 3X2, 10-4 and 2+2+1+1. Also consider having them write and illustrate a story that deals with math or numbers.
- Do projects with your child. Bake cookies or work on a home improvement project. Real-world applications of mathematical ideas, especially measurement, are everywhere! If you are stringing up lights, work with them to estimate how many sets you will need and calculate the total number of lights used. If you are baking cookies, have them figure out what is needed to make a double batch. Asking your child what they’d like to cook or build; they’ll have more buy-in on the activity that way.
- Exercise your body; MATHercise your mind! Take in a sporting event, even if it’s only on TV. Keep track of yards gained and lost from running versus passing plays of their favorite football team or the shooting percentage of their favorite basketball player. Work with them to make comparisons between two of their favorite players and display it graphically. Check out the lesson connecting rate of movement to football on Illuminations, appropriate for middle and high school students. If you’ve got kids playing on a sports team, consider having siblings keep the stats on their sibling or sibling’s team.
- Have a problem of the day. Work through one new problem before or after dinner each night. Figure This! has an awesome assortment of interesting problems with hints and solutions, so you don’t have to be a math wizard to facilitate! Let older siblings write the problem of the day for younger siblings. Be sure to have them teach their younger siblings how to find the answer.
- As a family, track your calorie intake or your finances. Are you consuming more food during the holiday season than you would otherwise? Are you spending money on gifts? Becoming aware is important in establishing control. You may also consider how much time each day you spend on each activity such as watching television, eating, sleeping. Ask your kids to predict how much time is spent on each activity. Make a graph. Ask neighbors or cousins to track their time on each activity as well. Then compare both family’s experiences. Finally, brainstorm how you can manage to fit in alternative activities to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
- Seek out a volunteer opportunity that appeals to both you and your child. From cooking for a shelter, to collecting food for a food drive, to collecting coats for the needy, there are lots of opportunities to estimate and use math to project how much your efforts mean to others. Ask your child to look for math in the activity. Write about it in a journal or draw a picture.
(Many ideas in this article from are from NCTM) Share your ideas by commenting below!