School’s out for summer! This may be fun for the kids, but as you’ve probably heard, students suffer from “summer learning loss” during those months away from the classroom. In mathematics, they’re set back an average of 2.6 months! If you want to curb your child’s summer learning loss, and you have a road trip planned, we have a few suggestions for your car ride that will keep your children’s minds nimble and curious while you head off to your summer destination.
1.) Basic counting games might sound dull, but they can be a fun way for your child to practice their counting and addition skills if you throw in a competitive edge. Have your children make predictions about what they think they’ll see on the road and keep points for sightings. For example, each child can choose a color of car and a kind of animal (birds don’t count!), and get a point for each time they see their attributes. Your kids will pit their favorite colors against each other, or maybe it’ll be a battle between horses and deer, but they’ll learn not only to hold cumulative sums in their minds, but they’ll start to notice probability principles, too.
2.) This is a fun variation on the basic counting game that is a little bit more advanced. Each child chooses a color of car, a make, and an attribute, for example “green,” “Subaru,” and “bumper stickers.” You’ll want to think of a list of “attributes” beforehand, things that are easy to spot and equally probable, like bumper stickers, dents/damage, backseat passengers, or rearview mirror decorations. Every time they see a car that has one of those three attributes, they call it out and claim points. The points scale according to rarity— e.g., you get one point for any green cars, two points for any Subaru’s, and three points for bumper stickers. If a green Toyota with a clean bumper drove by, you’d get one point, and if a white Chevy with a bumper sticker drove by, you’d get three. The real fun comes in when a vehicle has multiple attributes, in which case you add the numbers for the attributes—to use our example, a green Subaru with bumper stickers would be worth six points. You can add all kinds of variations to make it harder and more intellectually involved, like multiplication for multiple attributes, or giving your children the ability to “call” each other’s attributes out first for half points.
3.) This game involves fraction trees, multiplication, and division. You chose a “number of the hour,” and your children need to figure out how they can combine numbers they see on passing license plates or even road signs to reach that number. To make it trickier, you can award only one point for each plate, and whoever thinks up the last combination wins the point. For example, if the number of the hour is 15, and the plate reads JR-1435, your son might spot “3x5,” but then your daughter could call out “(1+4)*3.”
For all of these games, and especially if you only have one child, the parents are encouraged to play, too! The more competitive the better, because children will associate developing math skills with being able to achieve a goal and participate more fully in social activities. Set everybody-wins prizes, like picking the radio station or the next fast food location.
And if you really want to fight off the summer learning loss, or maybe pack along something for those long summer trips, order a Mango Math crate! You’ll keep your kids busy, entertained, and learning all summer long.