5 fun summer math games

Avoid the summer slide with these games that are so fun, the kids won’t even realize they’re learning.

Photo: iStockphoto

The “summer slide” isn’t just the fun kind at the playground or water park—it refers to loss of academic skills over the summer months. Math skills in particular take a hit, with kids sometimes losing two or more months of math knowledge by September, according to research from Duke University and the University of Missouri. Experts suggest doing math games and activities with your kids during the summer to beat the brain drain. Here are five we like:

1. Math hike
Take a math hike and look for different geometric shapes. Estimate the angles of tree branches or leaves and then check with a protractor. Measure and chart elements like daily temperature highs and lows, the growth of a plant or the amount of rainfall.

2. Put math on the menu
At a restaurant? After you order, hang onto the menus. Then, try these games:

  • Ask your kids to find the most and least expensive items.
  • Challenge them count up the total number of dishes between $8 and $12.
  • Tell them you have $47.23 to spend on the meal and ask how that can be divided equally between each family member.
  • Get them to estimate tax or tip.
  • Issue a challenge to find the weirdest combination of menu items that totals $36.
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3. Math on the beach
Write the numbers 1 to 11 on a beach ball or another large ball. When a player catches the ball, she adds, multiplies or subtracts (depending on what skill you want to practice) the two numbers that her hands are touching.

4. Cook up some fractions
To practice fractions, halve, double or triple a favourite summertime recipe…then enjoy the delicious results!

5. Roll the dice
Each person gets a paper with a number written at the top—say, 300. The first person rolls a pair of dice and combines the two numbers that come up (for example, a 3 and a 4 makes 34). Subtract 34 from 300. Then the next person takes a turn. The first to reach zero is the winner.

Read more:
How to make learning math (actually) fun for kids
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