Wow! I do not know what happened to the last ten days! On May 15th, I posted some suggestions on how to help your child/teen/student ramp up their vocabulary during the summer months. At that time, a weekly post on specific enrichment activities you can do with your child was promised. It appears I missed posting one last week! I will try to be more regular! Stick with me, I am fairly new to the activity of blogging!
Math. Math is a subject I have come to really enjoy. This both surprises and pleases me. I think if I had a different trigonometry teacher in high school, I might have gone on to take more math. It appeals to me because I have a very logical mind and I also like to problem solve. As an adult, I can see so many daily applications for math that I started to write math questions based on my garden club topics! Soon, more of these will be available on the Teachers Pay Teachers website.
All three of my three boys were all accelerated in math, starting in elementary and middle school. This will be the subject of a future post because there are both positive and negative considerations when parents need to decide about acceleration in a specific subject area. I have a great deal of experience in the actual and potential outcomes of acceleration that should be shared with others.
But, I digress. Summer. Over the last 15 years, I have always kept my boys engaged in math activities over the summer. For the most part, even though they moaned and groaned, they enjoyed it. I also think it solidified some of the learning they did during the prior school year and kept them fresh for the start of school in the fall. I will admit, the extra work/challenge, of having your children do math over the summer is easier when they are younger. So start early! If it becomes part of a summer routine, you’ll have less of a fight later on, when they are older.
The activities or resources suggested are only those I actually used with my boys. There are many resources out there, be sure to look them over before you ask that your child do any of them. In my opinion, it is pointless to have them do an activity or lesson if there is not an answer page or demonstration of how the answer is obtained. Unless, of course, you are adept at math yourself, and want to perform the problems with them to check on their answers. Remember that process is as, or more, important than a right answer. Showing how answers are arrived at is almost universally demanded now in schools and the extra practice will solidify this expectation. If you have a child that is keen as well as skilled at solving problems in their head, the extra time spent writing out solutions will be valuable once school resumes.
The internet offers many math enrichment sites. This post would be incomplete without mentioning some of them. A few popular ones we have used are the following:
- Khan Academy – Some people in the math world love this site, others just tolerate it. All three of my boys (now aged 15, 17, and 22) have turned to Sal Khan’s site for practice, clarification, or enrichment. What is nice is that you can pick the topic and there are literally hundreds of videos and practice problems through which to work. The site will also track progress for you, if you are interested. FREE.
- IXL – This is a site that has subject matter categorized by grade level and then, topic. It is easy to navigate and has shows the answers. Great for extra practice, review or enrichment. You can only do 10 problems without paying a subscription fee, however. Depending on what you want to get out of it, the subscription fee is not too bad. I think it was $9.95 a month for one child. There are options for more than one child and also to add language arts practice. We did subscribe to this site for a while. It also tracks practice time and sends email updates to parents. It also was very easy to stop the subscription whenever you want. FREE/PAID.
- Kuta Software – This site offers worksheets with answer sheets. No examples of how the work is completed. Offers algebra through calculus. We used this site often for extra practice problems when not enough of one type of problem was offered in the text-book for pre-calculus. Also used for Algebra II review work. FREE. There is a disadvantage of the work not being shown, as far as how to get the answer.
- AAA Math – used in elementary school for extra practice. FREE
Of course there are many others, but these sites are the ones we tended to use the most.
One forgets that math is like another language. Getting used to the language of mathematics through relaxed, enjoyable activities can be a way to enrich mathematic skills with out the drill and kill approach, which now has fallen out of vogue. We need critical thinkers. Many activities offer a chance to problem solve and critically think, augmenting future mathematic skills. Using real life skill building can be a way to practice math skills without kids even realizing it.
- cooking and baking – using fractions and conversions, measuring spoons and cups, accurately. Cutting recipes in half or doubling recipes can be good practice.
- Make juice or lemonade and measure volume
- sewing – using fractions and conversions for yardage, seam allowances, and amounts
- gardening – measuring a site for size, perimeter and area, distance between plantings. Square foot gardening has great applications for math.
Thinking skills can be enriched by learning a new game such as:
- Monopoly or Life, to practice using money
- Othello – online or the board game
Patterns, sequencing, and geometry can be practiced with:
- Origami – There will be a future post on the benefits of learning to fold paper. This is a highly recommended activity to help students visualize angles, shapes, and have fun while doing it. Start at the site linked here for some recommended patterns.
- Matching Memory Games – We had stacks of these games. Dinosaurs, Careers, & others, that were played constantly when our boys were preschool and early elementary age.
- Pattern or object recognition – Search and find books, We owned a ton of these. Great for travel. A few examples are Where’s Waldo?, I Spy Books, and others.
- Logic Puzzles
- Tile Puzzles like the famous 15 puzzle like this one we have
- Jigsaw puzzles
- Magna Tiles – We had a set of these that got some but not a lot of use. They are fun for creating structures and also serve the same purpose as tangrams. A set can be pricey.
- Tangrams – These are shapes that fit together to build bigger shapes, allowing the child to “see” how something like a hexagon might be made of triangles.
- Geogebra – This is a relatively new site that has some awesome interactive lessons for the older math student. For the right person, it is great fun just to play with the tools on the site. For me, it is not intuitive as I need it to be to actually know what I am doing, but it could be a help to a more visual learner. Here is a link to one of the tools exploring normal distribution. By clicking the boxes at the right, it shows the results of that operation on the graph. FREE.
There are many ways to provide math enrichment over the summer. Whether you have a kid that loves math and wants to do it or a kid that dislikes math and avoids it, the extra practice over the summer will not be a waste. Try it and see!