Fun math can lead to more effective learning. Online afterschool math programs have run with this trend, creating programs that produce results while being enjoyable for kids. Parents can take the concept of fun even further by finding the math in their families’ everyday lives. Here are five fun math tips that can give your kids extra help without them even realizing it:
1. A Trip to the Store
Taking your child shopping, whether to a grocery store, to a department store, or on Amazon, is an opportunity for fun math. Encourage your children to keep a running total of the items in your shopping cart. Challenge them to figure out how much extra you’ll be paying for sales tax. Many department stores offer sales coupons that take a percentage off the retail cost, which can provide more math opportunities (e.g., “We’re buying three shirts at $10 each but will get a 30 percent discount; how much will these items cost?”). While shopping online, compare the prices of an item on multiple websites (e.g., “Is this Lego set cheaper on Amazon or Toys’r’Us.com?”) and ask your kids how much more (and perhaps, what percentage) you will save by going with the less expensive vendor.
2. Watching Sports
Most pro sports by their nature are statistically driven. The plethora of numbers generated offers plenty of opportunities for fun math for your child as you watch the games together. For example:
- Basketball: The Bulls led the Jazz 52-47 at halftime. At the end of the third quarter, the Bulls led 80-72. Who scored more points in the third quarter?
- Football: The Steelers are penalized 10 yards for holding. They were on the 42 yard-line; where will they be after the penalty? (This is challenging because depending on what side of the field the Steelers were, your child will have to either add or subtract.)
- Golf: The par-5 hole is 580 yards long. Tiger Woods hit his tee shot 340 yards. How far away is he from the hole?
- Baseball: A player has a .320 batting average. If he goes 1-for-3 today, will his batting average go up or down?
3. Replace Numbers
All those numbers on math worksheets can be daunting to a disinterested grade-schooler. Encourage your child to think of math problems not in terms of numbers, but in terms of a favorite toy or animal instead. For example, the equation 23+37=60 becomes 23 dolphins plus 37 whales give you 60 marine animals. The numbers are still there, but in your child’s mind, he or she might turn to a visual image of something they like or love that can provide the extra incentive to solve the problem.
4. Estimate Everything
How long is the drive to school? Estimate it. How far can I cannonball off the diving board? Estimate it. How many cookies are in the jar? Estimate it. How much longer can I hold my breath than you? Estimate it! Estimation is a fun math skill that can be applied almost anyplace. And unless you are guessing something rather infinite (which can still be fun), kids can measure the actual results afterward to see how close they got.
5. Board Game Manager
Many board games require a scorekeeper or banker to help manage the game. Though you may be used to assuming this role, letting your children do so is a fun math responsibility that offers them a little bit of ownership over the result of the game. (Not recommended if you know that your kid likes to cheat!)
What fun math tips work for your children?