Real-World Math Activities that are Perfect for Engaging Your Kids
Margaret Pritchett Jones is the Associate Head of School and Lower Years Principal at High Meadows School, a progressive PK-8 school in Roswell, Georgia. She has consulted with many schools and organizations around issues of constructivist teaching and teacher education.
When we requested feedback and ideas for ways to keep kids engaged with math during the summer months, she responded with such a thorough answer it was given its own page.
Her tips are broken into two groups-grades K-3 and 4-5.
Math Activities for K-3
Sharpen thinking skills by doing a necessary household job. Ask your youngster to sort laundry--before or after washing. How many socks? How many sheets? How many shirts?
Fold paper towels or napkins into large and small fractions. Start with halves and move to eighths. Use magic markers to label the fractions.
Ask your children to guess the weight of several household objects--a wastebasket, a coat, a full glass of water. Then show children how to use a bathroom scale to weigh the objects. Next, have them estimate their own weight, as well as that of other family members, and use the scale to check their guesses.
Practice counting coins up to a dollar. Sell your child milk for $.10, cereal for $.25. How much will you spend?
Are We There Yet?
Let them be your alarm clocks for certain times of the day or for special events. Give time situations for children to solve - “We’ll be at the beach in 45 minutes. What time will that be?”
Math Activities for Grades 4-5
A Trip to the Supermarket
Ask your child to choose a dish to prepare for a meal--a desert, a salad, a sandwich. Have your child check to see what supplies are on hand and then make a shopping list. At the supermarket, let the child select the food on the list. First, the child decides which items are the best buys and then makes selections. Have the child write the price of each item on the list and figure the total, checking the prices against the sales slip.
On the Move
Sharpen math skills on trips. Use even short trips around town for learning experiences. For example, at the gas station, ask your child how much gas you need and the cost per gallon. On the highway, ask children to read the signs and check the different speed limits. Then ask them to watch the speedometer readings and notice how fast or slow the car is going. Have children estimate distances between cities and check the estimates on a road map.
Introduce topics for dinner table conversation. Ask your child to choose a stock from the stock market pages of the daily newspaper. Have your child keep a record of the stock's progress for a week or two and then figure profit or loss. Discuss baseball and football scores and averages on the sports pages.
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