Friday, June 23, 2017

Summer Math

With many students getting ready for the summer break, there are also many parents wondering how they can keep their sons' and daughters' entertained for six weeks and more. I am one of those parents! So here are some math-based ideas to try that are not only fun but will also help keep math skills honed until September.

Dice Games

Three words: Shut-the-Box. Farkle. Yahtzee.

OK, that might be five words but who's counting? These are great games for any age and are a wonderful way of getting students to practice their number sense. I particularly like Shut-the-Box: it is something I have played over a cup of tea with my children in a Tim Hortons.

Card Games
These can range from simple games like Snap, Pairs or Marilyn Burns's Oh No 99! game to more complicated games like Euchre and (my favourite) Cribbage. Playing these games necessarily involves using Math: from simple comparing of numbers (Snap) to more complicated decision making (in Cribbage, which of these two cards should I put in my opponent's box?)
You can also practice your math facts by playing a 'War' type game with cards. Split a pack of cards evenly between two people. Each player then simultaneously turns over the top card of their deck and places it on the table next to the other player's card. The first player to call out the total of the two cards gets to keep the cards. Keep playing until all the cards are used up. This game can be adapted so players have to get the product of the two cards, or to treat black cards as positive and red cards as negative and to get the total or product of these integers.

Spatial Reasoning Games
Math is more than number sense so it's important to work on our spatial reasoning. Kanoodle is probably one of the most engaging puzzles that I know of and has been a huge hit with any kid (and adult) that I've shared it with.

Other great games include Tantrix...

...and Pentago.

And if you want something for your tablet, I highly recommend the app Flow Free.

Try a yohaku puzzle each day!

For older students, try one of the many from the yohaku website or Twitter feed @yohakupuzzle. Or, if you have younger kids, create your own and leave them on the fridge!

I'd also recommend kakuro and KenKen puzzles. There is also the 100 Day Challenge at as well as the Math Before Bed site for younger kids.

Road Trip Math
If you are going on a road trip, then get your kids involved with this! Show them a map of your route. Better still, print off a copy of the map and mark on your location every hour and to note how many kilometres you have travelled: this might help kids answer their favourite question: "When are we going to get there?" Make a note of gas prices on your route: are they more expensive or less expensive than where you live? When you fill up with gas, mark the location on your map. How many litres did you pump in?  Using your map, how far do you think you will go before you need to fill up again.

Sporting Math
If your child  are following their favourite team, get them to collect data of how their team is doing. From simple bar charts to keep track of wins/losses to more detailed things such as number of runs/hits, batting averages etc. If you are watching a game or a sporting event, casually ask your children questions like:

  • By how many runs/goals/points are we winning?
  • How many runs/goals/points have been scored in total?
  • Have we had more running yards or passing yards?
  • How many minutes are left?

Or if you are going to watch the World Athletic championships in London, how about a question like "Who do you think will win: Bolt or De Grasse? By how much?"

BBQ Math
There are even opportunities to practice math when you are having a barbecue. From simple questions like "How many burgers are on the grill? How many will there be when I flip them over?" to using a meat thermometer to measure the temperature of the chicken breasts (we don't want to eat undercooked chicken, do we?!)

Hope that you have fun using these ideas!