Great Summer Time Math Ideas For 3rd – 5th Graders

Great Summer Time Math Ideas For 3rd – 5th Graders

April 17, 2019

Summer is quickly approaching; Do you have plans for your third through fifth graders? Do those plans include math?  In the crucial math years of 3rd – 5th grades, students are figuring out the fundamentals of mathematics.  Students in third grade are determining whether or not they are good in math; this is where the memorization of multiplication facts and the understanding of simple division becomes critical.  If students don’t have their facts down fluently, then they are already a step behind when going into fourth grade.  In fifth grade students are starting to develop the understanding of fractions and decimals, key elements to algebraic understanding.  Students also should know how to do long division and multi-digit multiplication, knowing factors and multiples will help.   If you ignore math over the summer students can lose 2 to 3 months of math knowledge due to lack of reinforcement.  Here are some ways to continue to reinforce math over the summer.

Play is still critical at this age.  The ability to explore shapes and sizes helps to reinforce spatial reasoning, critical thinking and problem solving. This happens when students can play with manipulative material like blocks, tan-grams, tiles, pattern blocks.

Building Blocks:

Allow students to use building blocks to develop the concept of squared area and cubic volume.  How many blocks does it take to create a 3 x 5 x 6 building?  If you have 150 blocks what different shapes can you create by using all of them?  What are the dimensions of the 3-D shape?  Can they make other prisms still using the 150 blocks?

Create City-scapes:  Use blocks, empty boxes, empty cans and butcher paper to create a city.   Have building and streets.  Determine the number of “stories” in each building? Make each building to the same scale.  Have them determine distances from one building to the next.  How far is it from the house to the store?  What is the fastest route from the city hall to school? Look at quickest routes, what is the difference in length from one route to the next?

Playing games where score keeping is necessary.  

Playing sports where score keeping is necessary, especially in those games that have players earning more than one point at a time, like in basketball, football, darts, bowling etc. can be very helpful. Ask players to strategize while playing the sport.  Example, you need to gain 5 points to win the game, what are the different ways those points can be earned, what plays can you preform to increase likelihood of gaining those points.

Students can also use timer to the nearest hundredth of a second and graph physical fitness activities like how fast they run a 50-yard dash? How many sit-ups they can do in a minute? How many burpees they can do in a minute?  Compare their times over the summer.  What is their personal best?

Card games are also a great way to keep math facts honed.

Salute is a game for three players.  One student is the dealer and judge and the other two are the players.  Dealer gives the two players a card face-down.  When the dealer says “salute” other players will raise the card, without looking at it, up to their forehead.  The judge can see the value on both cards, but the player can only see the value on the other players card, not their own card.  Judge will multiply both cards together and state the product.  The players then need to figure out the value of the card on their forehead.  Example.  Judge says the product of the two cards is 15.  Sue can’t see her card, but she can see Mike card which is a 3.  So, she will know her card has to be a 5.

LCM (least common multiple) This game can be played like the card game War.  Students will each lay down a card.  The person who states the least common multiple of both cards can take both.  Example, one student places a 4 the other students a 6, least common multiple of both these cards is 12 (4,8,12) (6, 12).  Student that says 12 first gets to take both cards.

Work on math facts.  Make a chart like the one on the left.  Work on one multiple at a time and when mastered mark them off the chart.  It’s easy to do.  Deck of playing cards can help with mastering math facts as each card will come up 4 times in the deck for that extra repetition.

Students can quickly mark off the column and row of 1s, 2s, 10s, 11s, possibly 5s.  The work on strategies for committing the other numbers to memory.

Nine’s follow a pattern.

Learn the threes by the School House Rock song.

For fours think double double; 4 x 7 = 2 x 7 + 2 x 7 = 14 + 14 = 28

This will leave only the following multiplications facts that they would have to memorize or come up with mnemonics to help with memorization.  6 x 6, 6 x 7, 6 x 8, 7 x 7, 7 x 8 & 8 x 8.

Board games are a great way to practice math.

Board games are great way to pass time and score keep or strategically think.  Learn chess, play Monopoly, Risk, Rat-a-tat-cat, Mancala, Yahtzee, Pizza Fractions and many more.

Measure twice cut once.

Measure things, anything.  Use measuring cups, measuring tape, scales, anything that requires students to measure to a fractional amount or a decimal amount.

Baking is a great skill to learn and fractions is a part of baking.  Double recipes, don’t buy pre-mixed, get the ingredients to make from scratch.  Buy a bag of rice and have students measure out 1/3 of a cup, double, triple the amount.  How much do you have when you measure 1/3 of a cup and ½ of a cup?

Use measuring tape and measure out paper, wood, ribbons, cardboard.  Create things via the measurements. What is half of the half?  Can the students measure 1/3 of the ribbon?  How many 1/3 are in a 12-inch ribbon.  How long is each length?

Create a gallon man and the different measurements that equals a gallon.

Play with money.  Play being a banker and count back money.  Figure out how much $10 will buy you in the grocery store. Compete with others to figure out who can get the most out of $10.  Can you get enough items to have a “well-balanced” meal? Pretend to “split” a bill.  Take the cost of the meal and divide it by the number of people eating. Use play money to help in figuring out the cost.  If the total meal for 4 people cost $46.80, what is the cost per person? What happens if your friend doesn’t have money and you must pay their share?  How do you figure in that cost?

Figure out time:  For kids who want screen time, tell them for every hour of computer time they are to do 15 minutes of math.  Have them calculate how much time they will have to spend doing math if they spend 3 hours on the computer.

For those kids who want some screen time they can do Hour of Code.

MANGO Math has great math kits that incorporate most of these ideas.  To learn more check out our website https//