Most families have a very full schedule, and it can be hard to find time for that extra focus we want to have on math. But, unlike finding time to sit down and read to our children, it’s easy to find ways to work a little math fun into everyday family activities. Just remember to look at the world in mathematical terms, and talk about it as you go through your day.
Don’t be afraid to take on complicated problems that might be over your child’s head. Asking clarifying questions and posing a simpler version of the problem are great problem-solving tools. And not every problem has to be solved immediately. Sometimes it’s good for kids to think about unanswered questions and give their ideas time to formulate.
To get you started, here are a few ideas for math activities the next time you’re driving, doing housework, at the zoo or a sporting event, and more.
Math moments in the car
- Add up the numbers on the license plates of the other cars.
- When you see a speed limit sign, ask your child what your speed would be if you were going 5 miles slower. Or how much faster you can go on the freeway than on your own street.
- Keep track of the colors of the other cars. When you arrive at your destination, determine the most popular color.
Math moments around the house
- Folding the laundry? Give your child the socks to sort, categorize in different ways (by who they belong to or color), and fold. Count the socks. How many complete pairs do you have?
- You’ve just made a batch of 50 cookies. If each person in your family has 3 each day, how many days will they last?
- The kitchen is full of math learning opportunities! For more ideas from Dreambox Learning for Kids’ Kitchen Math.
Math moments at the zoo
- A lion can jump a distance of more than 30 feet. See how far your child can jump (using your feet to measure). How much farther can a lion jump?
- A monkey can eat up to 30 bananas a day (some eat even more)! If a banana weighs 5 ounces, how many pounds will the monkey eat each day? If bananas cost 90 cents per pound, how much will the zoo spend to feed the monkey for 1 week?
- A Burmese python can grow to a length of 18 feet. How many inches is that?
Math moments at the ballpark
- Talk about the shape of the field. Is it a diamond? A rectangle? How many sections is it divided into?
- If 1 player gets 3 hits in 9 at-bats, and another player gets 2 hits in 7 at-bats, which player has a better batting average?
- Count how many seats are in your row, and how many rows are in your section. Then look around, estimate how many sections there are, and how many seats there are in all.
Math moments at bedtime
- Set a timer and brush your teeth together for 2 minutes. How many seconds is that?
- Read a favorite book where math is integral to the story. You’ll find some good suggestions from Dreambox Learning: How Reading Together Can Bring Math to Life
- If your child is having trouble sleeping, try the old standby: counting sheep!
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