# Math Over the Summer?

#### Posted: May 21, 2013

Here are some general goals to keep in mind for your children over the summer:

--To maintain your children’s number sense and ability to think flexibly when working with numbers, talk to your kids about numbers. Are they able to take them apart and put them back together? For example, can they find 7 different ways to make the number 6? For older students, can they come up with mental strategies for a multi-digit multiplication problem? The more they do it, the easier it becomes!

--If your children have already memorized their “math facts,” they should continue to practice them over the summer so they don’t forget them but practice should be fun! There is no better and more fun way for children to learn and reinforce their basic math facts than by playing board games and other games. Play blackjack (21) or cribbage, or have your child be the scorekeeper or the banker while you play board games.

--Talk to your child about math and his or her strategies for solving problems. Games are most effective when you are there playing with your child. Ask open-ended questions (e.g., “How did you know?”) that encourage your child to verbalize his or her thinking. When your child is stuck, suggest strategies that they have been working on in school (“Could you use a double to help?” “Are there friendly numbers that could help?”) Not sure of the strategies? Consult the list provided in the box on the right hand side of this page and make a mental note to attend math class for parents next fall.

--Make it a goal to play a math-related game together every week- UNO, Top-It, Othello, Mancala, Blokus, Pentago, and Connect Four are some examples. For more ideas consult the list in the box on the right. Go with your child to a toy store and pick out some new games to play this summer. There are also plenty of math apps we have been exploring for our school iPad program ( A partial list of Apps designed to reinforce skills is attached.)

--Play “Guess My Number” with your children, basically the 20-question game with numbers. Think of a number and tell them the range and then let them ask yes or no questions to get clues. Talk about which questions best help narrow down the numbers (“Is it odd?” vs. “Is it 3?”). You will be surprised how quickly you can give them a range of numbers in the millions.

--Take out your old wooden blocks. Think your kids are too old? They are not! Dig them out and watch your kids discover again the joy of building with blocks while developing their spatial skills. If you don’t have the classic blocks, consider buying a set of Kapla blocks or Architecto blocks that both can be used in a variety of ways.

--Try to incorporate “math talk” in your day-to-day conversations. Count your steps when you are going for a walk, determine in advance the change you’ll get at a store, estimate the number of people in a group, or notice or find shapes and angles in one of your summer outings.

--Let your children help with money- have them count the money in their piggybanks or your wallet. Let them count out how much to give to pay for items in a store, let them estimate your change and then check whether you have received the correct amount. If you have older students, let them help determine the basic tip to leave after a meal in a restaurant.

--Cook together and have your child do the measuring. How many fourths are in a half cup? What if we doubled the recipe? Which is more, a third of a cup or a fourth of a cup?

--Read books about math. There is plenty of wonderful math literature and more books are being published every day. Go to the library and check some out. One of my favorite read alouds is The Number Devil by Hans Enzensberger. (A list of books is attached.)

Here are some specific grade level recommendations with “do’s” and “don’ts” for students at each age:

Do:

--Play games and talk about math in the real world. Go grocery shopping together, count change, bake and cook, or do any of the daily activities we all do that involve mathematical reasoning and reinforce number sense.

--Count with your child whenever possible. Practice counting up and practice counting down. Count small groups of items and play games that reinforce counting, which includes everything from Chutes and Ladders and dominoes to Parcheesi.

--Have your child practice estimating. Show them small groups of items and ask them to estimate how many are in the group. Then count them and check your estimates.

Do:

--Play games and talk about math in the real world. Go grocery shopping together, count change, bake and cook, or do any of the daily activities we all do that involve mathematical reasoning and reinforce number sense.

--Reinforce addition and subtraction facts for the numbers 1 through 10. The MOST effective way to do this is through games, not flash cards or workbooks. The games work best when kids and grown-ups are playing together. And don’t try to lose: your child will beat you soon enough! Have fun together.

--Ask your children to explain how they came up with the answer. It is great practice to have them verbalize strategies that they used to figure out an addition or subtraction problem.

--Practice estimating to develop measurement sense: Try estimating the number of windows in your house- then count and see. How about pairs of shoes? Can you make an “educated guess”? Do you have personal benchmarks to help you decide when something is about an inch or a foot long? How many pounds is that watermelon? How heavy is your neighbor’s dog?

Don’t:

--Please, do not introduce the “borrowing” subtraction algorithm. It is a quick and efficient way to subtract, and we all learned to subtract that way, but children who are introduced to this algorithm too soon (before 2nd grade) have a much harder time understanding other subtraction strategies and truly understanding what happens during subtraction. Don’t worry, they will learn the algorithm in 3rd grade, but not until they have learned what subtraction is all about!

Do:

--Play games and talk about math in the real world. Go grocery shopping together, count change, bake and cook, or do any of the daily activities we all do that involve mathematical reasoning and reinforce number sense.

--Reinforce addition and subtraction facts for the numbers 1 through 20. The MOST effective way to do this is through games, not flash cards or workbooks. The games work best when kids and grown-ups are playing together. And don’t try to lose: your child will beat you soon enough! Have fun together.

--Reinforce the addition and subtraction strategies they learned in second grade in the context of story problems you can have fun making up.

--Ask your children to explain how they came up with the answer. It is great practice to have them verbalize strategies that they used to figure out an addition or subtraction problem.

--Practice estimating to develop measurement sense: Try estimating the size of the crowd if you go to a concert or stadium together. Do you know how scientists estimate the numbers of migrating animals from airplanes? Do you have personal benchmarks to help you decide when something is about an inch or a foot long? How many pounds is that watermelon? How many cups in a gallon of lemonade?

Don’t:

--Please, do not try to teach the standard algorithms for any of the operations. It truly makes it harder for them to develop a solid conceptual understanding of the relationships between operations.

Do:

--Play games and talk about math in the real world. Go grocery shopping together, count change, bake and cook, or do any of the daily activities we all do that involve mathematical reasoning and reinforce number sense.

--If necessary, reinforce basic addition and subtraction facts. The MOST effective way to do this is through games, not flash cards or workbooks. The games work best when kids and grown-ups are playing together.

--Reinforce the addition and subtraction strategies they learned in third grade in the context of story problems you can have fun making up.

--Ask your children to explain how they came up with their answers. It is great practice to have them verbalize strategies that they used to figure out an addition or subtraction problem.

--Reinforce the basic multiplication facts. Some children find practicing their facts with music helpful ( The City Creek Press CD “ Times Tables the Fun Way” is a good resource).

--Practice estimating to develop measurement sense: Try estimating the size of the crowd if you go to a concert or stadium together. Do you know how scientists estimate the numbers of migrating animals from airplanes? Do you have personal benchmarks to help you decide when something is about an inch or a foot long? How many pounds is that watermelon? How many cups in a gallon of lemonade? Compare metric and standard units. How much would you weigh on the moon?

Don’t:

--Please, do not teach your child the standard algorithm for long division. They will learn it in 4th grade after they have had a chance to develop a better conceptual sense of division and have learned to divide a much easier way!

Do:

--Play games and talk about math in the real world. Go grocery shopping and compare prices per pound, count change, bake and cook, measure and sew, calculate miles per gallon when you buy gasoline, determine batting averages, compare winning Olympic medal times, or do any of the daily activities we all do that involve mathematical reasoning and reinforce number sense.

--Reinforce basic multiplication facts, ensure your child is comfortable doing multi-digit division and ensure your child is able to subtract multi-digit numbers efficiently.

--Help your child understand all the ways economists, businessmen, physicians, and scientists and many other professionals depend on their math expertise everyday and why math is important for developing their thinking skills.

Don’t:

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We hope you will spend the majority of your “math time” this summer focusing on the types of activities outlined above, but we realize many of you would feel more comfortable if we also recommended a workbook. There is a workbook that we can recommend and it is available for each grade level! You can order it easily online. Just go to: http://www.summerskills.com/summerskillsbooks/math_books

The beauty of this Summer Skills Sharpener series is that each page offers the students a variety of topics to review. Simply order the workbook that entails a review of the grade your child just completed; e.g., if they have just completed 2nd grade and are rising to 3rd, order the Second Grade Math Review Book.

Another way your child can reinforce his or her skills is by taking advantage of the Lower School’s subscription to the iXL online math program. All year second, third and fourth graders have had access to iXL to practice various math skills and to continue to build a firmer conceptual foundation. They can still access this program during the summer months and continue to work through various sections (www.iXL.com ).

We recommend that your students start with the specific sections that have been highlighted for each grade level in the attached documents. (See the box on the right). We don’t want your child to spend hours on the computer but in regular limited doses, the iXL program offers another medium for reinforcing math skills and the children are already familiar with it from technology class. If they have forgotten their passwords, you may contact Merry Adelfio (adelfiom@sidwell.edu) or Jenni Voorhees (voorheesj@sidwell.edu).

I hope you and your families have a wonderful summer. If you have any questions about these recommendations, don’t hesitate to contact me by email. (adelfiom@sidwell.edu)

Sincerely,