10 July 2009 09:43 AM

Summer Math Tips for Kids

by Dr. Rick

We’ve been concentrating during recent weeks on keeping kids’ minds active during the summer months away from school.  My summer mantra, as I keep reminding anyone who’ll listen, is “Summer’s a time for slowing down, not shutting down.”


We’ve discussed tips for keeping kids’ reading (June 15, 2009), spelling (July 7, 2009), and writing skills (July 2, 2009) sharp and ready for the new school year.  Today, we’ll focus on math tips.  Remember, a major reason we keep our kids busily learning during the summer is to maintain their confidence for when classes start.  Confidence equates to quicker learning.  It’s that simple.


Here are a dozen tips for summer math learning.  Adapt them to your family’s needs.

  1. Grocery store math.  Counting, estimating, and making change are good math exercises.  What can we get for $10.00?  Will you count the change for me, please?  Let me know when we’ve reached fifteen items in the cart, please.

  2. Menu math.  What’s the most expensive meal on the menu?  What’s the least expensive?  We have $20.00 to spend – what can we get?  What’s the proper tip?

  3. Kitchen math.  Practice fractions by using recipes or reading cookbooks.  Practice numbers by counting the cutlery we’ll need for dinner.  Measuring ingredients is a perfect math lesson.  Don’t tell them, though.

  4. Map math.  What’s the distance from home to our destination?  How long will it take us if we travel the speed limit?  What’s the most direct route?  What do you think is the most scenic route?  Why?

  5. On-the-Road math.  Numbers are all around roads if you look for them.  Add or subtract license plate numbers, speed limits, or route numbers.  Keep track of time traveled or how long you’ve been reading aloud to encourage learning how to tell time.

  6. Money math.  Teach about making change.  Count change in a piggy bank.  How many ways can I make 45 cents?  Open a savings account and watch the amount rise with deposits and interest.  Talk about the advantages of saving for a big purchase or for a rainy day.

  7. Reading and writing math.  Read books about math and mathematicians.  (A good website is www.mathmamawrites.blogspot.com.  The June 26, 2009, blog, “Dozen Delectable Math Books” gives recommendations for ages 2-adult.) 

  8. Calendar math.  Count down the days to special events like the first day of school, birthdays, holidays, vacations, assignments, and appointments.

  9. Game math.  Use cards, dominoes or dice (“math cubes”) to reinforce counting, addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division skills.  Play Chutes and Ladders, Monopoly, and other games that encourage counting.  Together, do the sudoku  puzzles in the daily paper.

  10. Computer math.  There’s no shortage of cool game and instructional websites.  Try the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics’ website, www.nctm.org.  Click on “Summer Games for Children.”

  11. Beach math.  Count starfish and seashells.  Umbrellas and pizza joints.  Flip flops and beach balls.  Dig holes, then encourage kids to fill one-quarter, one-half, three-quarters with water or seashells.  Draw geometric shapes in the sand – circles, squares, rectangles, triangles – and identify them.

  12. Mail math.  Keep junk mail to make out “pretend” orders of clothes, books, groceries, etc.  Add up the orders.  Compare and contrast prices.

  13. Growth math.  (Okay, so it’s a “baker’s dozen” tips.)  Measure everyone in the family.  Compare heights.  Measure growth over time.

You get the picture.  We’re surrounded by words and numbers every day.  Draw your children’s attention to them without making a big-deal lesson out of them.  Let them see you reading, doing math, and writing, as part of your daily life.  By including them, you’re encouraging them to join you in your grown-up world, something kids can’t resist (for a time, anyway).


Please share your family’s math fun activities.  Just click on Comment below.





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