For many kids, their local pool is their summertime temple. It’s too hot to do much else during these dog days, and swimming is an outlet for outdoor fun with their friends that also helps them cool off. If you’re wondering how you can incorporate math learning into your child’s summer recreation, here are a few fun pool games you can teach them that’ll not only make them stronger swimmers, but teach them math skills at the same time! As the study from John Hopkins shows we need to work on math through the summer.
Find a collection of small floating objects. You can use wine corks, golf or ping pong balls, or other small pool floaties. Number them one through ten (or fifteen or twenty), and scatter them across the surface of the water. The “caller” stands on the shore, shouts out a number, and the child or children in the water race to find either the floaty with the number called or a few floaties that add up to that number. This game is especially good with more than one child playing, because after collecting the sum they have to race through the water back to the caller. Keep track of points and see who retrieves ten sums first!
For older children, you can add floaties that read “x2” that can multiply the value of floaties to increase the complexity of the game and the possibility for calling out higher numbers.
Similar to Bobbing for Sums, this game involves someone out of water acting as the “caller.” Scatter an assortment of change at the bottom of the pool. The caller will then name an amount of money, and one or more children will have to dive for the coins that add up to that amount. This is a great way of learning the real-life applications of addition in terms of money, and of cementing in a child’s mind the relative value of each coin.
This game combines the popular pool games “Sharks and Minnows” and “Marco Polo,” and is great for a group of children. The “shark” stands in the center of a group of children who have formed a ring with his or her eye’s closed. The shark will then call out, “What time is it?” and the minnows will answer by calling out their “time,” which is determined by their position relative the shark. Just like when adults describe the position of something using the numbers on the clock face, “12 o’clock” is wherever the shark is facing, “6 o’clock” is directly behind them, and so on. The shark can use both the voices of the other children and their understanding of a clock to chase down the minnows. The minnows strengthen their ability to tell time by putting the face of a clock into a new context. If the pool you’re playing in is large enough that the minnows could swim too far out of reach of the shark, instate a rule that they can never be more than six feet (or so!) away from the shark.
These games will keep your child both entertained and learning while at the pool. And if you want to have some fun indoor games to compliment these pool activities, try a Mango Math Crate! When your child and maybe their friends come home tired from their activity at the pool, you can all play one of the games from our crates to unwind inside. Our crates of age-appropriate games contain 20 different lessons, and any manipulative materials needed, providing for hours of fun in the comfort of an air-conditioned living room.