Building Summer Math Skills
Retaining Math Skills... or Building Them
Math doesn't have to be left behind at the classroom door. It is possible for kids to re-enter school in the fall without having lost ground. In fact, it's possible for them to re-enter with more skills than they walked out the door with!
There are multiple routes you can take to enhance summer math learning, depending on the time and resources you have, as well as on your own teaching inclinations. Many parents get a little more time with their kids during the summer. This is a great opportunity to show them the ways that you use math on a daily basis. A trip? Shopping? Food prep? It all adds up to math time. This not only keeps computational skills sharp, but can give children an edge in the problem solving department.
Many children struggle with complex word problems and with relating skills to the real world. It's so much easier to remember to ask yourself, "Does it make sense?" when there's a real world problem to solve.
There are also a lot of fun activities and games that keep math skills pencil sharp. Organizations like the National Council for Teachers of Mathematics have online resources to help you.
And if you do need math packets or more structured learning? I've got some suggestions there, too.
Math is All Around Us
A Context for Math
The following are all math learning experiences -- if we resist the temptation to do too much for children. I think often we do the problem solving and computation for children until they're ready to do it on their own. This is more efficient, time-wise, but we lose important opportunities for practicing... and for thinking.
- Sewing/ crafts
- Board games
Resources for Real World Math
- Growing a Summer Math Garden
Despite what the title suggests, this resource from Education World isn't just about gardening math. Here are ideas for using math in sports, gardening, traveling, and more.
- Connecting Math to the Sports World
Here are resources from the Math Forum @ Drexel.
- Math at Sea World
The folks at Sea World use math, and lots of it! You'll find some useful materials on the teacher resource page. They are designed for classroom teachers, but I see no reason why a math-savvy parent can't use them. Note: I got an error message recent
Math is indeed all around, but it helps to have some structure, and to know what real-world skills are expected at each grade level. Here, math calendars can prove helpful.
A math calendar gives you a daily activity that uses math. Each activity is written in a small square just like on a regular calendar. You can hang it up in a central location like your refrigerator.
If students do most of the activities, they have practiced fundamental skills from their grade level -- and vital skills are less likely to drift away in the summer breeze.
Some districts/ schools have put a lot of work into creating math calendars. They're letting families know they're out there! If your district doesn't have one, though, you can still find them on the internet.
- Summer Math Calendars from Cambridge Public Schools
Math calendars for grades 1 - 8. Preparation packets for high school courses.
- Summer Math Calendars from Danbury School District
These July and August calendars are for rising first through fifth graders. You can also find links to sites with math activities -- they are grouped into primary and intermediate.
- Summer Math Calendars from Glastonbury Public Schools
Here are activity-based calendars for rising first through seventh graders. You may not be able to complete every activity on the particular day it was listed as it might involve, for example, a trip to the grocery store or market. You can 'x' them o
- Math Calendar for Rising Fourth Graders
Here are cute June and July math calendars. They were designed by a classroom teacher to maintain skills learned in third grade.
- Henry County Schools
Here are math calendars for children who have completed grades K - 5. The one I looked at consisted of word problems and basic math problems designed to retain grade level skills: a task or two in each box. They weren't based on outings or activities
- Sudbury Public Schools
Any amazing piece of work -- lots of activities, some of which reference sites that have math games and activities.
- Brookline Public Schools
Fun stuff: July and August calendars for rising first through sixth graders, plus additional resources at the first grade level.
Real World Math: Rethinking the Lemonade Stand
It's not safe everywhere, I know, but here in Seattle, you will see kids with old-fashioned lemonade stands in the fair months. Think measurement! Think money! You can also teach some complex computational skills.
Here are some ideas for extending the lemonade stand experience. You can also hold a lemonade stand to support a very important cause: fighting childhood cancer.
- Lemonade Math and More
Extending the lemonade stand... and more creative summertime math ideas.
- Lemonade Math Extensions
You can go through a lot of steps before you arrive at the right price!
- Lemonade Stand Game
Play lemonade stand online.
- A Lemonade Stand for a Worthy Cause
Hold a lemonade stand for a good cause. (And, yes, you can write a check to supplement your lemonade stand proceeds.)
A Math Challenge
Have a whole day (or more) to spend with your kids, doing errands, household chores etc. ? Here's a challenge: How many times a day do you use math? Score a point for each instance that you can identify. (Yes, it can turn into a competition!)
Cooking as Math
Here's a resource book for the busy parent-mathematician: You can read it on the go on your Kindle (though you might need to spend some time in a kitchen to perform the activities).
The math activities aren't necessarily all at the same level. I think it would be a good choice for the summer between 3rd and 4th grade. Some concepts will be review at that point. Some kids may need to grow into!
Available in Kindle and print editions.
Goal Setting... and Math
Is your child participating in a summer reading program? Do you have one of those charts where you record reading with stickers? For very young children, this can be a math learning experience as well.
Ten is a very important benchmark number. Teachers of young children often use "ten frames" to teach sums to ten and to teach the relationship between addition and subtraction. Goal-setting/ recording charts can serve the same purpose, especially if you verbalize: "You have eight! Wow, you just need two more!" If you have several charts of ten, you can reinforce place value -- counting your tens and then adding on your ones. Charts that go up to higher numbers will stretch children's thinking further into the primary school years.
This doesn't just work for reading. Chore charts, behavior charts...
Summer Math Camps
A person can't always spend days at home with the kids. You're at work. They're in day care. Or day camp. Math camps -- yes indeed! Some math camps are for talented adolescents. The ones I'm showcasing here, though, are for younger kids. or children who might be struggling a bit.
Themed camps for the elementary set are often day camps, so they tend to be geographically based.
- Seattle Area Summer Math Camp
For entering 1st to 5th graders in the Seattle/ Bellevue area.
- DC, Maryland, Virginia, Delaware
Offered for six- to fifteen-year-olds. Multiple locations.
- Ohio Math and Enrichment
Math and problem solving camps for various ages.
- Kids Jam Houston Early Math Learners Camp
For five- to twelve-year-olds.
- University of Wisonsin-Milwaukee Tackles Vacation math!
Third through fifth graders spend two hours a day for a week planning their dream vacation... and using lots of math!
Just because she's using a calculator, it doesn't mean she isn't doing math! By automating some steps, the calculator frees the child to focus on problem solving or on each step of a multi-step process.
It also allows little ones to work with some big numbers. Planning a road trip? Adding up those miles? Chances are your kids can do the math, even if it involves some major computation.
Math on the Road
Summer Math Packets
Some districts release packets of summer math work. These may be required or optional. You may want to visit your district site -- there can be a surprising amount of resources. You can also find math packets released by other districts.
- Smiley Face Math
Here are problem solving worksheet and parent-friendly introductory materials. They are available for grades K through 5.
- Milford Public Schools Math Packets
Milford Public Schools has released some very engaging math packets with supplementals like charts for parents to initial (reminiscent of the math calendar).
- Free Worksheets from Homeschool Math
Basic worksheets for grades 1 - 6, organized by grade level and concept.
- Christina School District Summer Practice Pages
The packet for rising first graders is activity based and contains items for parents to check off. Practice pages for older grades take on more of a traditional workbook feel.
Math Fun for the Middle Grades
I tutored a sixth grader who loved this book. The word problems are challenging, but there's a game element (tic tac toe) built in. The pages can be reproduced for a classroom of students, but you can also play with your own child -- right in the book. You can opt for coins or counters instead of x's if you like.
There's a version for third and fourth graders, too, but I haven't played it.
Don't Let the Economic Gap Create a Math Gap
Some children re-enter school in the fall knowing more than they did when they left; some enter having lost ground. Sadly, quite a bit of it comes down to economics. Enrichment activities build math skills, but we don't all have the same resources. Not everyone goes on vacation, or off to camp, or lives in a lemonade stand neighborhood.
Be aware that there are resources! What are some places where you may find free tutoring? Your library. The Boys and Girls Club. And don't forget online services!
If you can't find free or affordable tutoring services, and you feel that your child really needs support, look for online resources that come from school districts and professional math organizations. You may want to download a math calendar.
Summer Resources from Math Experts
- The National Council for Teaching Mathematics
Lots of resources for students and teachers alike.