One of my resolutions from way back with my kids was to do some sort of fun math activity with the kids each day. I’ve never cared if it takes just a few minutes or what level it’s at, just as long as math play became a regular and enjoyable part of each day.
We’ve done pretty well with this over the years. One day I put out Cuisenaire rods for the kids to pick up and play with, for instance. Three year-old Alex wandered past and spelled out his name with the longer rods, and the older kids made patterns and equivalents. Another day, I gathered the kids in the kitchen and called out square root problems, asking them to holler the answers out and try to be first. I also gave the kids imaginary shopping problems where they figured out how much they’d owe after taxes. Over the years the kids have often asked for “chocolate chip math” as a treat too — I take a pile of organic chocolate chips and we go around the table with the kids answering random math questions and word problems to earn chocolate. 🙂
Here is an example of one week’s math fun from a random January week a few years ago. Since we have such snow and cold in Minnesota in the winter time, I figured I would work that into some of the fun.
(Note: This post contains an affiliate link. Purchases made through our site may earn us a small commission at no cost to you.)
- Get a box of sugar cubes and divide them among the children. Give them small things to measure in sugar cube units and show them how to figure out the items’ area by lining up sugar cubes along the length and width and multiplying the numbers, then have them fill in the area with sugar cubes and see if they get the same answer. Then have tea with some sugar cubes.
- Tint some water with food coloring and fill various containers with it. Have the kids guess which containers hold more, and then measure. Compare tall, skinny, wide and oddly shaped containers. Then let the kids play at mixing the colors in the containers.
- Have each child guess the temperature outside and go see who’s closest. Subtract that temperature from the temperature inside to see how much warmer it is inside. Also check the temperature on the back porch, in the basement and in the refrigerator and freezer, and see how close they are to inside and outside temperatures. (Note: a temperature gun makes this really fun and easy, and has kids wanting to play with math all day!)
- Sing 100 bottles of beer on the wall, the math version. Instead of taking one down, take turns with one person singing out how many are taken down each time, and then as a group sing the answer. For instance, “95 bottles of beer on the wall, 95 bottles of beer… take 9 down, pass them around… 86 bottles of beer on the wall.” Feel free to switch out the traditional beer of the song for juice, milk, water or whatever your family chooses, of course!
- Give each child 25 chocolate chips. Ask them to figure out how many times 7 goes into 25 with the chips, with lines of 7 to show the answer. Eat the remainders. Then do it with 4’s, then 6’s, then 5’s and so on.
- Fill a measuring cup with one cup of snow, then bring it inside and let it melt. See how much water it makes, subtract the difference, and talk about why snow takes up more volume than water.
- Play War, but make black cards positive and red cards negative.