Looking for some math fun to do at home? Read on!
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Did you enjoy math in school? Do you enjoy it now?
Most children begin life with a love of math, but that often becomes squelched in early elementary school – when math may be perceived as boring or hard.
But mathematics is fun.
Don’t believe me?
Try some of these tips at home. You just might agree!
How to spark a love of math at home – for grades K-2
1. Keep the pleasure in math by playing games with your kids.
If the only math you do with your kids is flash cards, they’re going to miss out. Pull out some of these goodies!
- Buy it Right! – money recognition, adding, and making change for grades 1-3
- Dino Math Tracks – counting, addition, subtraction, place value
- Sum Swamp – simple addition and subtraction
- Head Full of Numbers – for kids ready to make their own simple equations
- Mancala – great problem solving game – a big favorite for my 6 and 7 year old (you don’t need the kids’ version)
- Hisss – simple strategy game that younger siblings will enjoy too
- Bug Trail – another strategy game for kids
- Qwirkle – an addictive strategy game
- Yahtzee – probability, addition (scoring)
- ThinkFun Math Dice Jr. – fun for early math learners
2. Change the way you talk about math.
Do you often find yourself quizzing your child? That’s normal and even fun for toddlers and preschoolers. “What number is this? How many balls are in the bin? Can you find the circle?”
While quizzing occasionally has its place (hello, math facts), we need to change the way we speak as our kids get older. Try one of these.
- “Can you tell me why…”
- “I wonder if…”
- “How did you figure that out?”
3. Get books of riddles, puzzles, and games from the library.
Have you ever thought about riddles as being math related? When your child has to think through an answer, he’s learning to puzzle through a problem. And he’ll love trying to stump you!
4. Give your child access to math related toys.
Sit down and play with them together!
- pattern blocks – a staple when I taught first and second grade
- Tangrams – promotes early geometry skills
- Perplexus – my kindergartner spends a lot of time trying to solve this!
- Wedgits – a fun building toy
- marble run – lots of problem solving goes into making a successful run!
- Magna Tiles – our most expensive, but most played with toy (grown ups love it too!)
5. Use math vocabulary.
Not just “How many sides on a square?” Try this: “How many angles?”
Instead of, “Can you turn the puzzle piece?” you can say, “Try rotating it.”
Not just “If you add 1 and 1, what do you get?” but, “What is their sum?”
6. Give your child time to solve math problems.
I’m not talking about homework (although patience is required there too). I mean math that comes up every day. Today my son really wanted to fix the interlocking bookshelf when it came apart. I wanted to do it myself, but I bit my tongue and let him figure out how the pieces lined up.
Have you ever posed a math problem and given the answer too quickly? Work on giving your child time to puzzle it out.
7. Do fun math investigations with your kids!
When you approach these as games and not lessons, you might be surprised at how much fun math can be.
a. Estimate. “About how many people do you think are ahead of us in line? About how many apples are in this bowl? About how many minutes have we been driving?”
b. Take stats at home or in the neighborhood. Make a graph to show family favorites: foods, ice cream flavors, etc. Go for a walk and graph the results: how many neighbors have a car in the driveway, a bird feeder out front, or Christmas lights on the bushes?
c. Play with a calculator. This was the cheapest of the Christmas gifts we gave our 6-year-old, and it’s by far the most played with!
d. Experiment with the kitchen scale. Which do you think weighs more: this apple, or this bag of marshmallows?
e. Do math problems together.
Before you roll over and take a nap, hear me out! You just need the right resources. Try one of these great books!
- Bedtime Math – How about doing a math problem before bed? Each problem comes in three levels of difficulty, so all the kids can get in on the fun. Be sure to check out Bedtime Math’s popular website.
- Family Math – Lots of creative ways to make math fun at home – with materials you have sitting around your house. The book itself is a little dated, but you’ll still find a treasure trove of activities that will make math-averse kids wondering, “Is this really math?”
8. Read math related books to your kids.
I’m partnering with Erica of What Do We Do All Day to bring you her signature book lists for each level of our math appreciation series. I always find new books to love on her lists. Check out this week’s!
Learn how to make math fun at all different age levels! Just click on an age range below.