A University of Missouri study discovered that children on average lose about 2.6 months of math knowledge over summer break. Think about where your children were at math around St. Patrick’s Day—that will be about the same place they’ll be on Labor Day. Kids are often encouraged to read over the summer, but rarely do they get the same suggestion for math. But cool math for kids doesn’t need to feel like they are back in school, sitting at their desks. You can introduce math into summer activities that are fun for child and parent alike. Here are several ways to beat the summer heat with cool math for kids:
Your child may resist worksheets over the summer, but the same problems written on a sidewalk in chalk are far more fun to answer. The possibilities are endless: Any math activity you can write on paper you can also write on a sidewalk or driveway. Your kids could draw outlines of each other and measure how tall they are. Grid out a game of dots or play tic-tac-toe.
The time-honored tradition of the lemonade stand is a perfect opportunity for cool math for kids. Challenge your children to think as businesspeople when running the stand. How much water, ice, and sugar will they need? How much will each cup cost them, and how much will they gross from each cup sold? How much will they need to sell to break even?
Water Balloon Equations
Use a Sharpie to write math equations on a few dozen unfilled water balloons. Fill up the balloons; the equations should now be more visible. If a child answers the question right, he or she gets to throw the water balloon—maybe at a target, another kid, or even you. A wrong answer means another kid can answer correctly for the right to throw the balloon. If nobody answers correctly, it’s yours to pop over your kids’ heads (just don’t make the problems too tough!).
More Water Math
On hot days, water is a great way to provide cool math for kids. Among the possibilities:
- Lay out a Slip ’n’ Slide and have your kids measure how far they slide and how long it takes (use a tape measurer and a stopwatch). Challenge your kids to get less of a running start to see how that affects the numbers.
- Direct your kids to empty a filled squirt gun into a measuring container to see how much water the gun holds. Refill the gun and empty it again to see how many shots it takes to go dry. Compare multiple squirt guns this way to see which has the most capacity and best firepower.
- Find as many buckets, bottles, and other containers for your kids to fill up with water, from the hose or a kiddie pool. Let them discover what containers hold more water and which ones can be poured into another. And prepare to get soaked as well—let them pour out the water over your head to see which ones get you the most wet (on a scorching day, you’ll welcome this, and remember, it’s to help your kids learn math!).
iPad at the Pool
Kids generally groan when they have to get out of the pool for safety break. This summer, bring your iPad along and let them do math for those 10 minutes. Whether it’s an online math tutoring program or just a free math website, this is a great way to sneak in some cool math for kids.
What cool math for kids have you tried over summer?