It’s almost that time of year again when kids turn in their schoolbooks for a few months of carefree fun in the sun. They look forward to summer break all year – splashing in the pool, going on vacation, and enjoying yummy grilled food. While lots of activities come to mind when you think of summer, we’re guessing that math isn’t one of them.
Unfortunately, the reality is that many students lose many of the math skills they worked so hard to learn throughout the school year while on summer break. It’s called the Summer Slide and it affects many students every summer. To prevent the Summer Slide and help your kids retain their math skills, here are several easy and engaging summer math activities.
What is the Summer Slide and Who’s at Risk?
Essentially, the Summer Slide is a phenomenon where children suffer skill loss during extended breaks from school. Reading and math are the main areas in which kids experience the most skill loss. In fact, one comprehensive study estimated that students lose as much as 27 percent of their math skills over the summer break.
It seems that younger children (Kindergarten, first and second grades) are at the most risk of learning loss because they are at a critical stage in their development. Many crucial skills are taught at a fast pace during this time, with learning ‘leveling off’ as children enter the higher grades.
Children from low-income families are also more susceptible to the Summer Slide than those from middle or upper-class families. This is likely due to a difference in summer learning.
Fortunately, parents can prevent a loss of math skills over the summer by encouraging their kids to participate in fun math-based activities. Math is more than just practicing math problems, so keep reading below for some great summer math activities to keep your kids having fun and learning all summer long.
Summer Math Activities for Kids
The good news is it’s not difficult to keep math skills honed during summer break. Whether on purpose or by chance, opportunities to practice math are everywhere. Check it out!
Online Math Activities
The Internet is full of websites geared toward the furthering of children’s math skills. Some great sites to visit this summer include:
- Academicskillbuilders.com – A great place to practice all kinds of math operations. This site lets you play arcade games that challenge basic math operations, fractions, counting money, and decimals.
- Math-play.com – A website with a plethora of math games separated by grade level. All math games are free and fun!
- Mathplayground.com – So many math games, so little time! We’re not sure the summer is long enough to get through all the fun and games on this website. You’ll find math games, logic games, arcade games, story math, math videos, and much, much more.
These are just a few of the math skills-building websites on the Web. A quick Google search of “fun summer math activities” will reveal many more.
Popular Brand Games
Playing classic brand games is a fun way to pass time on a rainy day and practice math skills, too. Some require strategy, logic and reasoning, while money counting is major feature of many of other classic games. Some great ones that can be used to hone basic math skills include:
- Life – The game replicates a person’s journey through life, from college to retirement, including jobs, marriage, and probable children.
- Monopoly – This is a multi-player board game with an economics theme. Players move about the game board by rolling two dice, purchasing and trading properties, and developing them with houses and hotels.
- S’math – S’math is a game that makes arithmetic enjoyable! Players take turns creating crossword-style equations with the tiles in their racks.
- Tripoley – For almost 75 years, this best-selling family classic has combined Michigan Rummy, Hearts, and Poker into an exciting and enjoyable game.
- Payday – With the playing board mimicking a calendar month, the game simulates money management. Players accrue debts and expenses to pay throughout the game, as well as collecting their monthly paycheck on “pay day” at the end of the month.
Geometry and Patterns:
- Blokus – Blokus is a two- to four-player abstract strategy board game in which players aim to score points by occupying the majority of the board with pieces of their color.
- Sequence – This is an abstract board and card game. The goal of the game is to create five rows of five poker chips on the board by placing the chips in the locations on the board that correspond to the cards played from the player’s hand.
- Geoshapes – This huge collection of colorful geometric shapes will help give children a visual introduction to mathematics.
- Qwirkle – Qwirkle is a tile-based game that shares some characteristics with the games Rummikub and Scrabble.
- Sudoku – This is a number-placement puzzle that is logic-based. The goal of traditional Sudoku is to fill a 9-by-9 grid with digits so that each column, row, and each of the nine 3-by-3 subgrids that make up the grid (also known as “boxes,” “blocks,” or “regions”) contains all of the digits from 1 to 9.
- Clue – The object of the game is to determine who murdered the game’s victim through deductive reasoning, where the crime took place, and which weapon was used.
- Stratego – Stratego gives board games a twist of military strategy. Players attempt to attack and capture the flag in this fast-paced original board game.
- Connect 4 – This is a two-player connection board game, in which the players choose a color and then take turns dropping colored tokens into a seven-column, six-row vertically suspended grid. The objective is to connect four of your checkers in a row while preventing your opponent from doing the same.
- Othello – Othello is a strategy board game for two players (Black and White), played on an 8 by 8 board. The object of the game is to have the majority of your color discs on the board at the end of the game.
- Checkers – This is a popular two-player strategy game that involves diagonal movement of uniform game pieces and forced captures by jumping over opponent pieces.
- Chess – In this abstract strategy game, Each player begins the game with sixteen pieces that are moved and used to capture opposing pieces according to precise rules. The object is to put the opponent’s king under a direct attack from which escape is impossible (checkmate).
- Mancala – The mancala games are a family of two-player strategy board games played with small stones, beans, or seeds and rows of holes or pits in the earth, a board or other playing surface. The objective is usually to capture all or some set of the opponent’s pieces.
Most board games involve some level of math, so find some that your kids love to play and make a regular family game night out of it!
Cards and Dice
A deck of cards and some good old-fashioned dice make wonderful tools for learning and practicing math.
For inspiring ideas using cards and dice to keep math skills sharp all summer, visit homeschoolcompass.com. Here you’ll find a wealth of exciting card and dice games that will hone math skills without your kids even realizing it.
If you are introducing algebra to your students, whether it at summer school or at home, I have a creative way to teach kids how to evaluate algebraic expressions with dice.
Your students will practice evaluating algebraic expressions while using teamwork. In the spirit of group cooperation, your students will also be practicing order of operations!
Go on Vacation
Taking a vacation presents many chances to use math. From figuring out your car’s fuel efficiency and how long it’ll take to get there to finding out how many miles the trip is on a map using the scale, kids practice everything from measurements and proportions to multiplication and averages.
Math in the Kitchen
Following a recipe is a great way to get kids thinking in math terms. Before getting started, though, jump in the car and take a trip to the grocery store to purchase the ingredients. Have your children figure out unit prices and prices by weight. Make a game out of guessing what the final cost will be based on estimates of each item’s individual price.
When you return home, let your kids help measure the ingredients. If possible, try doubling the recipe or cutting it in half to get your kids thinking about fractions as they work.
By the way…Psst…I have an awesome liquid measurement packet that you can grab on Teachers pay Teachers or in my online resources store! These are great for practice and assessing students’ ability to measure liquid volume using gallons, quarts, pints, and cups (U.S. customary units of capacity).
Your students will convert and compare units, and apply units to recipes. These activities can also be used for both pre-tests and post tests!
Get to Gardening
What does gardening have to do with math you ask? Why, lots!
Not only does planting a garden result in yummy fresh veggies or lovely flowers, but it also gives kids a lot of reasons to practice their math skills.
- How many square feet is the garden?
- What amount of fencing do you need to keep the deer out?
- How much fertilizer will it take to keep the garden growing well?
- What amount of mulch do you need to buy to cover the flower bed in a 3-inch-thick layer?
- How much money will you save by growing vegetables at home rather than buying them at the grocery store?
Watch a Baseball Game
Baseball is full of numbers and math. From a batter’s on-base percentage to a pitcher’s ERA, there are many natural opportunities to practice math during a baseball game.
Use a scorecard to document the game’s events and then figure out a few of the player’s stats. You can also create fantasy baseball and football teams and track players’ statistics throughout the season.
The Summer Slide is a real phenomenon, and many students fall victim to it if they aren’t encouraged to keep learning all summer long. Use the suggestions above to hone and build your children’s math skills while on break so they can pick up where they left off last year without skipping a beat.