By Julie Diamond
When the weather gets nicer it can be challenging to get your child to sit still to do math worksheets. Who can blame them? It's important to continue the learning through the summer so they are confident and ready for September. But math doesn't have to be boring or inside! Get outside, have fun and prevent summer learning loss. Here are some ways you can incorporate math with your child on the go:
1. Painted Rock Scavenger Hunt: Take some paint, or improvise with some nail polish, to paint numbers and/or addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and/or equal signs on each rock to make complete equations. For example, for 4+4=8 you would use 5 separate rocks. Make a few of these equations together with your child then hide the individual rocks around your house, yard or in a small area at the park. Get your child to go on a scavenger hunt to put the rocks together to make the correct equations. It gets them running and learning!
2. Skip Counting with Hopscotch: Use chalk to make a hopscotch up to 20 or for a challenge make it up to 50 or 60. Hopscotch is a great tool to use for making math active. Get your child hopping on one foot to skip count by 2s, 3s, 5s or 10s. This is a great way to prepare your child in grades 1 & 2 for multiplication.
3. Number Line: Using chalk, create a number line from 0 to 20. Unless your child is learning negative numbers, which most provinces are not doing this until grade 6, stick to positive integers. Make your own cards saying things like “subtract 3, add 5, etc” to draw from for the game. This is fun for your child to play with another person to make it more of a race to 20. The players start at 0. Draw a card for the first player. If it says ‘add 5’, and the player is at 0 they run or walk to 5 to ‘add’ 5. Draw a card for the each of the other players. If you draw a subtraction card and it would take the players below 0 then simply draw again. Keep going until a player reaches 20.
4. Patterns with Nature: Start a simple ABCABC or ABBABB pattern using different objects you find outside. You can use pinecones, twigs, rocks, or leaves. Make sure to repeat this same pattern at least twice then ask your child to find the items and continue the patterns. You can make this more challenging with switching up the patterns.
5. Hunting Shapes: Either print or draw the different shapes on a clipboard for your child. Make sure to include a triangle, square, circle, rectangle (if your child is in Kindergarten), and then add arrow, pentagon, oval, rhombus, and/or kite for older kids. Each time they find a shape get them to trace the object (or print the name of the object) on their worksheet and make a mark to keep track of how many of each shape they find.
6. Action Dice: Practice your child's basic addition, subtraction or multiplication with rolling a pair of dice. For an added challenge, add additional dies. Create a small wooden die and write words like 'jump', 'hop', 'skip', 'spin', 'blink, 'tap', etc on each of the sides. You then have your child roll the dice with the wooden die, add/subtract/multiply the dies together then perform that action that many times. For example, if you asked them to add and they rolled a 1 and 3 and hop. Well 1+3=4 so they would have to hop 4 times.
7. Measure Nature: Give your child a ruler, pencil and a clipboard with a recording sheet of the different things to measure around your yard or at the park. Some examples can include sticks, flowers, leaves, or rocks. Try to choose items that can be measured using the same unit (cm, mm). They can print the item and record how long it was on the recording sheet. You can even take it a step further by creating a graph together! This activity is geared towards grades 3 & 4 but you can make revisions to suit your younger or older child.
Share with us in the comments any outdoor math games you like to do with your child.
By Cassie Camara who is the mama behind @camara.crew on Instagram and click here for her blog Camara Crew.
I have three kiddos under the age of 4. Our oldest daughter will be 4 in July and is supposed to go to school in September. Being a mom to 3-pre K toddlers can be extremely busy but we do our best to try to implement various learning opportunities at home for all of them. Each time they can look very different but as long as our kids are having fun and learning something new in the process that is all that matters to us.
A lot of the time the focus for structured activities is on our 3.5 year old daughter. We are trying to prepare her for starting JK in September. She is starting to ask a lot of questions about going to school and they mostly are about what the day is going to look like and those common fears about being away from mommy and daddy. So a lot of our preparation right now is being led by her and her questions. We don’t want to force activities on her, she will learn when she is ready to and we have found forcing her to do learning activities can sometimes increase her anxiety about going to school and results in less participation. By letting her lead the activities and questions we have found our daughter has opened up to us more, asked more questions and participated in activities about learning more.
We’ve been using books to help prepare her for what school is going to look like. Our favourite right now is from Usborne Books “All You Need to Know Before you Start School". Click here.
This book is great for learning what a day at school would look like and also has some activities you can do throughout it. Another favourite is the dry erase books from Usborne which you can find here.
They have a great variety in their wipe clean books and I find Lily enjoys doing these most. It is a great quiet activity for her to sit and practice writing her letters and numbers. I love that there is no pressure if she makes a mistake she can just wipe it clean and start over again. We can also give our 18 month old one to scribble in to be just like his big sister. I find that when we set up an activity for our daughter our 18 month old son typically shows interest in what she is doing. It may just be watching her but it could be copying what she is doing also. I find that by encouraging them to do an activity together it helps teach them to share, be patient and work with others.
The other activity we do often is sensory activities in our Active World Tray from Scholars Choice. This has probably been one of our best purchases. What I love about this tray is it is great for setting up activities, keeping it contained and encouraging our kids to explore their senses. We’ve been using this tray for years and had so much fun playing in it. Whether it is through making a volcano, setting up a farm, a car wash station or some paint the kids love to explore together or individually. We often will set up an activity in the tray and leave it over a period of time for them to go back and forth to. It usually results in lots of imaginative play and some questions about the topic of the day.
Ultimately I find learning at home for us right now is a lot about play and exploration. By getting down on the floor with our kids and playing with them we have learned so much from them. Also by letting them help us with daily tasks such as cooking, cleaning, organizing and taking care of a newborn. We are able to implement so many learning opportunities such as patience, sharing, cooking (numbers and food groups) and so much more. I find we see what they’ve learned already coming out through their play. Oftentimes in Lily’s play she will start asking questions through her dolls or we play school and it's a great opportunity for us to answer her questions in a normalized way for her. It doesn’t always have to be in a structured sit down activity. It is amazing what children will pick up through the use of play and their imagination.
We are working on some new content about helping prepare your children for school and would love it if you followed along and shared how you are helping your kids prepare for school too.
Julie Diamond is a certified teacher in Canada and the founder of Teachers to Go.
Julie Diamond speaking at the OISE conference for Alternative, Innovative and Inspiring Career Paths for Teachers at the University of Toronto.
Jenna Srigley is the administrative assistant/social media co-ordinator at Teachers to Go and offers invaluable insight as a mom of 2 teens.
Fun Fact: Her and Julie (see above) are also sisters :)