Summer is upon us and students across the country are getting a well-deserved break from the rigors of academia. The pleasant weather and time off make summer a favorite season for children and adults alike, but learning doesn’t have to stop just because school is on summer break.
The dreaded “summer slide” in learning impacts all students, with low-income students feeling the biggest hit – losing 2.5 to 3 months of grade level equivalency over the summer months. The impact of summer learning decay is felt largely in mathematics, setting some students up for failure once they go back to school in September.
But all hope is not lost.
Aside from alternatives to traditional summer learning programs (i.e., online math programs), students can continue to think mathematically over summer break by turning everyday activities into math-learning opportunities.
Record BreakersWe agree, children should be playing outside during the summer, but that doesn’t mean they can’t also learn math.
Using a stopwatch, students can exercise their brains as well as their muscles as they try to beat their best times at running, hiking trails, swimming, biking, etc.
Gardening by the NumbersGardening can be used as a curriculum tool that helps kids understand how math is applicable in everyday life.
To plot out a garden, you must first measure the area and identify which herbs, vegetables, and/or flowers will be planted within the space. Because each item needs space and sunlight, any young gardener can use these factors to become a budding mathematician.
Start with a pencil and graph paper, measuring tape, and a journal. Advanced math students can also calculate the volume of soil needed for a planter box by using geometry and algebra--which will also come in handy when calculating the amount of mix-in fertilizer for each plant.
Keep the ChangeTeaching kids how to save money is a useful way to foster math skills in the summer and throughout the rest of the year. Start saving for your next family vacation by tossing spare change into a community piggy bank. Kids will stay interested in math by having them guess how much money is in the “vacation fund” and then counting the change.
Start saving for your next family vacation by tossing spare change into a community piggy bank. To further engage interest, have kids guess how much money is in the “vacation fund” and then count the change.
Road Tripping“Are we there yet?”
Kids can help plan a family road trip by mapping out the route and routinely determining where they are on the map. In this way, young navigators will learn direction, map reading, and how to read road signs--skills that will really pay off in adulthood.
MathletesTracking wins/losses or basic statistics is a great way to measure progress and develop a child’s math skills. Factor the stats into a graph for more immediate visualization.
Such math skills also can be used across the board--from tracking each kid's batting average to following trends of local professional teams. Sports can be a fun way to get the whole family involved in learning math.
Baking the DifferenceCulinary activities not only teach kids how to feed themselves but also provide mathematical skills they can use throughout their entire lives.
Baking is a science of its own. What's more, following a recipe exactly can be vital for a successful, edible final product.
In essence, each recipe is a mathematical algorithm that requires a good bit of math knowledge on various units of measure, conversions, fractions, volume, temperature, and so on.
1/3 Cup Oil (Coconut, Olive, or High-Quality Vegetable) ½ Cup 100% Pure Maple Syrup 2 Eggs* 1 Cup Mashed Ripe Bananas (or 2.5 to 3 bananas) ¼ Cup Milk (Coconut or Almond Milk) or Water 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract ½ Teaspoon Sea Salt ½ Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon 1 ¾ Cups Whole What Flour Optional: ½ Cup Chopped Walnuts, Raisins, and/or Other Dried Fruit and Nuts
For each egg, combine 1 tablespoon of crushed chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water. Refrigerate for 15 minutes until it develops the consistency of eggs. Do the math. How many tablespoons of chia seeds and water would be used for this recipe?
- Heat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (165 degrees Celsius) and grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together oil and maple syrup. Add eggs (or vegan alternative) and beat well. Then add mashed bananas and milk.
- Add baking soda, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt to the mix and blend well. Then stir in flour, gently folding until somewhat mixed.
- Pour batter into the loaf pan and lightly sprinkle more cinnamon on the top.
- Bake the banana bread for 55-65 mins – depending on your oven – until it passes the “toothpick test” and let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then pull it out of the pan and place it on a wire rack for additional cooling for another 20 minutes before slicing (this is the hardest part).
As you can see, math is everywhere. Why not include it in your summer fun? For more math activities, check our blog archive, at right.