Making summer count

Fun ways to help kids practice math skills

By Debbie Stringer

Making summer count
Practicing math during the summer break helps keep kids’ skills sharp.

Kids may argue the point, but math lessons shouldn’t be confined to the classroom. Kids should use math every day — even at home.

It’s important for children to practice their math skills often so they don’t experience what educators call the “summer slide.” Students who let their math skills dwindle during the summer break might find it hard to keep up when class resumes in the fall.

So help your learners stay sharp by using numbers daily in fun and easy ways. Here are a few ideas:

Bake cupcakes

Help your child figure out how many cupcakes the muffin pan will hold, and how many batches will be needed to use up all the dough. Show him or her how to read a measuring cup and spoons. Explain the numbers involved not only in measures but in baking time and temperature.

Mix up some frozen lemonade

How much water should you add to the pitcher? How many eight-ounce glasses of lemonade will the package make?

Have em’ make play money

Use crayons or markers for bills that feature a photo of a different family member or pet for each denomination. They can use their bills to buy and sell something among the family. Hide the calculator so they count and figure out change themselves.

Add numbers to creative play

For instance, have your child draw a big number nine. What color should it be? How can it be decorated? Encourage your child to draw nine of something, such as flowers, bugs, houses or stars.

Play license plate 21

When driving on a trip, ask the kids to pick a license plate each and add up its numbers. The one who gets closest to 21, without going over, wins. Play “I spy” by picking a number (a birth date works well) for kids to glean from signs, mailboxes, gas pumps, vehicles and railroad cars.

Find numbers at grocery store

Show your child how to weigh bananas to determine their price. Challenge him or her to find out how many ounces are in a quart of milk, and how many quarts make a gallon. If four candy bars sell for $2, how much is one bar?

Demonstrate fractions at mealtime

Show how you can serve, say, one pizza to four people by cutting it into eighths. Cut your child’s sandwich into halves or a quesadilla into quarters. Let your child count out a handful of peanuts or grapes and divide them equally among others. See how far you can divide a piece of string cheese into equal parts, starting with halves, then quarters, and so on.

About the Author

Debbie Stringer is editor of Today in Mississippi, the official publication for Mississippi’s electric power cooperatives.
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