Do you take a summer break in your homeschool? Do the kids (and the mom) need to put the workbooks aside for a while, but you’re worried about “summer slide”? Here are some fun ways to keep math-think happening!
If you know me, you know this had to be at the top of my list! So much learning happens when we play board games together. But sometimes parents are afraid to use them during the school year unless they can see a one-to-one correlation between the worksheet they are doing and the skills practiced in the game.
The summer is the perfect time to relax, play some games together and watch the magic of “living math”. Take an opportunity to listen to how your children think and reason about choices and strategies. Ask good questions about their thought process. But mostly, just enjoy the together time! Check out this list of our favorite board games organized by topic.
Remember, math is a language. It is a way of communicating what we observe about the logic and order we find in the universe around us! So it makes perfect sense that part of math learning would be reading and discussing math ideas. Just because your kids aren’t pushing a pencil across paper doesn’t mean they aren’t keeping the math brain cells active!
You can find math read alouds on all kinds of topics. Explore fractions, geometry, money, measurement, and more through reading picture books. Bethany Lake of Math Geek Mama has an entire category on her blog devoted to Literature Based Math if you need any suggestions. And if you’d like to explore math through poetry, check out some of the suggestions on this list!
Mobile Apps and Computer Games
I know there’s a lot of buzz on social media about ways to have a “screen free” summer. But how about ways to have a “screen intentional” summer? Online and app learning can be a great way to practice math over the summer! You can find math lessons and games at sites like Khan Academy, Sheppard Software, Fun Brain, and Math Playground.
And if your family has Kindle Fire tablets, here’s a list of some of our favorite apps. One of my favorite aspects of digital math is the drag-and-drop interaction. I’ve watched it help my kiddos really grasp concepts of subtraction, division, and comparing amounts, among other things. Or, if you prefer Android or iOS apps, check out the Smartick Method!
There are plenty of YouTube sites that demonstrate math concepts in a fun and engaging way. A favorite around here is Math Antics. But remember that math thinking isn’t simply about knowing how to do certain kinds of math problems or memorizing math facts.
One of the best ways to exercise math thinking is to engage in problem solving and logical thinking exercises. Check out these fascinating videos from TedEd called Math in Real Life. These videos would be great for viewing as a family and then discussing and solving together.
Problem Solving and Logic Puzzles
Of course, logical problem solving isn’t limited to YouTube! There are tons of resources available to stretch those muscles of mental deduction! We’ve enjoyed resources from The Critical Thinking Press like Mind Benders, Balance Benders, and Red Herring Mysteries.
We’ve enjoyed some of the logic puzzles, problem solving, and other real-life math activities from Cindy West’s “Loving Living Math“. Math Geek Mama also has a big collection of Pattern Block Logic Puzzles for a variety of ages. And if you want to combine read alouds with problem solving, see if your library has a copy of the old classic Anno’s Hat Tricks.
If you decide to take this approach to your summer, be careful. There is a great danger. It isn’t that your kids might lose ground in math. The danger is that you might decide that you really like this way of engaging math and want to continue during the school year!
If that’s what you’re thinking, check out some practical hands-on suggestions for how we do family math all year long!