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SCHOOLS COLUMN: Ideas for summer learning in math

Last week’s column offered ideas for enhancing reading and writing skills over the summer. Today the focus is on math.

If you want to help your child with math during the summer, keep in mind that the subject includes more than adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing. Many of these other types of math lend themselves well to being taught at home.

For example, children need to understand time – how to tell time as well as have a sense of how long a second or minute is, and answer questions like, “What time will it be in an hour and 15 minutes?” or “If a party starts at 11 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m., how long does it last?” To develop a sense of time, estimate how long an activity will take, then time it to see how close the estimate was.

A lot of math can happen in a real or play store -- counting money, making change, and guessing then measuring the weight of produce. Do you have enough money to buy this item? Both of these items? Product labels can generate a wide variety of activities. Depending on the ability level of the child, you can do something as simple as compare to see which product contains the most fat or fiber. Or the questions can be as complex as comparing the nutritional value of two products when one uses a serving size of ½ cup and another 2/3 cup.

Toys can be measured and weighed. Guess the length or weight before measuring. Collections such as toy cars or toy animals can be sorted by one person, with the other person guessing why they were sorted that way (such as by color, big vs. small, soft or hard, etc.)

State math standards also call for students to understand probability, which can be practiced using commercial games (such as Yahtzee, card games, or games with spinners) or made up games or activities: Flip a coin 50 times and see how many times you get heads and how many times you get tails. What total do you get most often if you roll two dice? And, hey, there are all those questions like “If you have 10 red socks and 10 white socks in a drawer and you reach in, without looking, what are the chances you will get a matching pair? What are the odds of getting a white pair?” Why not try those with real socks?

The kitchen is a great place to learn fractions, by measuring ingredients for a recipe (such as a half a cup of flour) or cutting up pizzas, pies or tortillas.

You can do a lot with a bag of multi-colored candy, such as M & Ms – estimating how many candies are in the bag, sorting them by color, putting them in order from the color you have the least of to the color you have the most of, and making a graph that shows how many you have of each color. Graphs are good for a whole line of questioning, such as “What color do you have the second most of?” and “How many more blue do you have than red?”

Next week: More ideas for summer learning

This column was written by Wire editor Betty King Buginas for the West County Times.
Run dates: 2002-06-07 - 2002-06-21

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