Christine Koh

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I'm Christine Koh, a music and brain neuroscientist turned multimedia creative. I'm the founder + editor of Boston Mamas, co-author of Minimalist Parenting, co-host of the Edit Your Life podcast, and creative director at Women Online. Drop me a line; I'd love to chat about how we can work together!

Curbing the Summer Slump: Math

math.jpgToday, Sheri continues our Curbing the Summer Slump series (be sure to check out her first post on reading) with fun activities to engage your child in math, spanning preschool/kindergarten to fifth grade:

We're almost halfway through the summer break and there's no better time to brush up on those math skills. Here are some age-appropriate activities that will wake up your child's mathematical mind while engaging them in fun ways.

* * * PRESCHOOLER TO KINDERGARTEN * * *

Beads/macaroni jewelry. Buy a box of elbow macaroni or ziti and some food coloring. Dye uncooked pasta in different colors and once dry have your child sort them by color into bowls. Give a string and a pattern such as ABA (green, yellow, green) on a card and show your child the first sequence. Ask them to string the rest repeating the pattern. For a challenge, give a pattern such as ABBC (green, red, red, blue) and see if they can repeat it.

Number jump. Break out the sidewalk chalk and write the digits 0-9 randomly, about jumping distance from each other in a circle or other shape. Call out a number, turn a card, or roll a set of dice. Have your child jump to the called out number as fast as they can. Repeat with other numbers. This can also be done with a beanbag or water bomb toss for variety.

Egg carton addition. Save an empty egg carton for this activity. Write the numbers 1, 2, 3 inside each egg cup (one number in each). Place 2 buttons or other small objects into the carton and close the box. Have your child shake the carton. Open and have them add the numbers using objects (e.g., beans, marbles, etc.) to count out. For example, if the buttons landed in a 2 and a 3, your child would count out 2 objects and then add 3 more and count all of them together. You can make the numbers more challenging or add a third button to the carton. Using manipulatives is important at this age so that your child can see the process of addition. Finger counting is not the best way for children to count as they can rely too heavily on it. It is better to use objects and have them count on by adding the second number.

* * * FIRST TO THIRD GRADE * * *

Eating fractions. Cut fruit into sections and have your child talk about what fraction they have eaten, and what fraction is left. You can slice an apple and have your child spread different toppings, such as peanut butter, honey, Nutella, cream cheese etc. Talk about the fraction represented by each topping for the total apple. This activity is not limited to fruit and can be adapted to almost any food. Easy, quick math talks can be powerful learning opportunities.

Race to $1. Using a handful or two of coins, place all coins into a paper bag. Have your child roll one die and take that number of coins from the bag. Count the coins and write down the amount. The second player takes the same turn. Repeat the dice roll and coin grab, adding the amount to the first. The winner is the first player to reach or pass $1. This activity can be adjusted using only certain coins (nickels and pennies, nickels and dimes, etc.) or changing the amount the kids race towards.

Card games. Playing cards can be used for so many math activities. Your child can play addition or multiplication war by flipping two cards instead of one. Whoever has the larger sum or product wins that round. So toss a pack of cards into your beach or pool bag and play a quick round of math war while relaxing in the shade of your umbrella.

* * * FOURTH TO FIFTH GRADE * * *

Back to school shopping spree. Give your child a back to school clothing or supplies catalog (your mail will be full of them in the next few weeks!). Give your child a budget that they need to stay within (e.g., they cannot go over $200). Have them "shop" in the catalog, listing items to be purchased and adding the totals. They will need to subtract from their total budget to make each additional purchase to be sure they have enough. Make sure your child is lining up the decimal points when adding and subtracting so that the place values are lined up. Using graph paper is a great help when using decimals.

Geometric amusement park. Print out geometric polyhedron nets (flattened shapes) for your child to build. Using the built 3D shapes, have your child design an amusement park or town with the shapes. Shapes should be colored and designed before building 3 dimensionally so planning the park or town first is important. Shapes can be glued down to poster board or an empty box for display.

Travel navigator. Give your child the map and a highlighter on your next road trip. Have them highlight and calculate the trip as you go, figuring out how far is left so that you can be the one asking "Are we there yet?"

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Whatever activity you choose, the fact that you are engaging your child in mathematical thinking is key! Talking about math concepts is equally valuable and can happen anywhere you go this summer as you notice geometric shapes around you, calculate admission costs, count endlessly, estimate elapsed time, and measure favorite recipes. Math is all around us so take advantage and share the experiences with your child this summer.

Have questions or suggestions? Please share in the comments below!

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Image credit: purchased stock image via 123RF.


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