Summer offers parents and preschoolers time to enjoy the outdoors while still “stretching the brain.” The outdoor environment provides endless rich opportunities to build upon your child’s mathematical skills. Together, you can explore numbers, shapes, measurements, and more by trying some of these fun and easy guided activities or by simply asking the right questions to engage your child in talking about math.
Summer Math Games
1) Have a Ball!
Gather a variety of balls (football, basketball, soccer ball, golf ball, bouncy ball, ping pong ball, baseball, etc.) and place them in a box or laundry basket. Have your child sort, order, weigh, and count the balls. He can also experiment with positions (in, out, around, on, under, etc.) as he places the balls in relation to another object, such as a table or chair.
2) Number Walks
Write a number on an index card and stick it to a container, such as a wagon, bucket, or paper bag. The object of the game is for your child to place the same number of items in the container as the number on the card. When she has the correct number of items, she can show you and then replace the items back where they belong. When replacing the items, you might encourage her to try to count backward. As an extension, you can have your child look for groups of similar objects.
3) Spray It!
Draw at least 10 numbers or shapes with sidewalk chalk in a designated area. The amount of numbers or shapes drawn can be increased or decreased given your child’s skill and comfort level. Give your child a spray bottle filled with water. To play, ask your child to find a particular number, shape, or to find the answer to a math fact. When he finds it, he sprays it! Variations of this might include finding even or odd numbers, skip counting, counting backward, finding shapes with the same number of sides, or finding a shape that has a given number of sides. As an alternative to using a spray bottle, your child might enjoy using a flyswatter, wet sponge, or duster.
4) Fraction Hopscotch
Head outside and draw a hopscotch board. Ask your child to stand on zero and toss a coin or pebble onto a fraction. As they hop they are to say each fraction. If they land on a double, they must name the equivalent fractions. If there are three squares: straddle it and say each fraction, then jump and a do a half twist in the air and land with both feet on the center fraction. Variations of the game might include mixing up the order the fractions appear on the board and hopping on fractions with common denominators, equivalent fractions, or in order from least to greatest (or greatest to least).
5) Math Relay
Make up cards ahead of time for different math skills. For instance, changing a fraction to a percentage or multiplication and division facts. If you have multiple children at different skill levels, you can color-code the cards based on the skill you want them to practice. Draw a line with sidewalk chalk with the words “Ready, Go!” written beneath it. Draw a second line approximately 8 to10 yards away with the words “Stop, Solve, and Sprint”. Place the math cards with the problems at this line with some sidewalk chalk. Have your child begin at the “Ready, Go!” line while you wait at the “Stop, Solve, and Sprint” line. When your child hears, “Ready, Go!” they sprint to the other line, solve a math problem, have you verify the answer, and sprint back to the start line where they either take a short break or they tag the next child in the relay to complete a problem. Repeat for several rounds.
Summer Math Apps
Can’t go outside? On the go? KinderTown recommends the following apps for early learners who are practicing math skills:
Math Blitz App Review
Math Blitz develops visual perception, memory, and concentration skills in children and helps them learn social skills while playing with others. The object of the game is to tap the same object in all of the sectioned areas of the game board. Be the first to tap the object and earn points. Be careful, because an incorrectly tapped object will cause you to lose points. There are options for 3 and 4 players as well as a practice area where children can get a feel for how the game works before actually playing. The app is free and is appropriate for kids ages 4-8 and lots of fun for adults, too!
Bugs and Buttons 2 App Review
Bugs and Buttons 2 includes six games at three different levels, each covering early math, pre-reading, and critical thinking skills. Your young learner can practice his fine motor skills in a fun and engaging manner. Math games such as “Button Repair” address visual/spatial issues. Other math skills your child will practice include sorting, counting, and matching. This app is for kids ages 4 -6 and offers fun challenges without frustration.