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Summer math = No Workbooks!!!

I recently visited a toy store that had been a favorite when my children were preschoolers, filled with unique puzzle books and games that we couldn’t find elsewhere. Guess what? That great book collection was gone, replaced by workbooks. These may be convenient ways for parents to make sure their children move ahead on skills during the summer but be very, very careful:

Most workbooks, even ones with pictures, make learning boring.

Instead, here are three great activities that reinforce math concepts and provide quality parent/child time. Find ways to use smaller numbers with small children, larger numbers with older children. Keep it fun.

  • Cook! Reading recipes, measuring 1/2 teaspoon and ¾ cup, and even doubling quantities make these fractions real. Point out how cups, pints, quarts and gallons relate to each other as you whip cream to go with fresh strawberries or freeze a batch of nutritious popsicles. The first key to fractions is having clear images in your head of what they are and cooking can help.
  • Make! Sewing, carpentry, knitting, and beading are just a few of the crafts that require measuring and counting. If you aren’t “crafty,” check community center classes. Also many bead and yarn shops have great beginning skills workshops.
  • Travel! Whether it’s a trip to the local children’s museum or across the country, get your child involved in setting the budget or investigating the costs. How much are tickets? What might a meal cost? How many miles will you drive?

These are just a few ideas—the point is finding the math in the activities you and your child enjoy and then providing chances to work with the numbers.

Math is everywhere. All of us really do use it every day, yet when one of the math teachers I coach asked his class, “How many of you did math over spring break?” none of them raised their hands! These hands-on activities make math real for your child. And that’s key to success, during the summer and back in school!

By Jane Kise, Ed.D. – Educational Advisor and Consultant, 
Jane  writes an insightful post every Tuesday for Kidtelligent. Jane is an educational consultant, specializing in teambuilding, coaching, and school staff development. She is also the coauthor of more than 20 books. Jane’s website  is