Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Hands-On Math Activities for Everyday Learning

Math opportunities surround your child every day. From telling time to food preparations, measurements, temperature variations, counting, adding, money matters, time requirements, sports scores, game strategies, construction toys, craft creations, algebra and building projects, distances and speeds, fractions and percents, fascinating Fibonacci numbers— your child can practice math in real life every day!

When children are engaged in real-life activities, they learn quicker and retain what they learned longer.

As Maria Montessori said, “What the hand does, the mind remembers.” This is especially true for comprehending math concepts.

Daily Math Fun and Learning

From shape-sorting games to determining the perimeter and area of each of the shapes, you can apply that exercise to nearly any object. Take that idea further by determining the perimeter and area of the room you’re in, as well as each room in your home. Go outside and determine the overall perimeter of your entire house or complex, then calculate total square footage. Which room is the largest in your home? Which room is the smallest? Why are the rooms and homes designed in the size and shape that they are?

In this way, a simple shape-sorting game has grown into real-life learning, making connections between basic shapes, living spaces, and home design. This is an important lesson: Take fun, simple games or daily lessons and make connections to the things that are real in life, the things that are a part of everyday life. This is when education and knowledge clicks, and learning makes sense and solidifies in a child’s mind.

With math opportunities all around us, it’s easy to practice mathematical skills each day. Simply discuss math concepts as you play together, do household chores together, cook and bake together. When you run errands or take daily walks together, determine distances traveled, the speed you’re traveling, and the time it takes to travel those distances. The more your children practice real-life math exercises, the better they’ll become.

Math Games

Board games and card games are great ways to develop and sharpen math skills, as well as reasoning and strategy skills. Bring out the board games each evening, on weekends, or anytime during the homeschool day! Play old favorites, such as Risk, Monopoly or Monopoly Junior, PayDay, or Chess. Try games such as Math Bingo, Math Lotto, Sum Swamp, Cloud Hoppers, Mountain Raiders, 24 Math Game, Pizza Fraction Fun, Adsumudi, Smath, Equate Math, and similar math games.

Play “store” and see what it’s like to open and run your own shop. Use play money or real money, “sell” retail items or consignment items, and keep a running inventory in your pretend store. Record expenses and sales in homemade ledger books, and determine the daily and weekly income—or income potential—of your shop.

Another fun business is the online game of Lemonade Stand. Kids will gain experience in nearly every aspect of a business: pricing, sales, inventory control, and handling the ups and downs of the economy over a period of several days. Make a pitcher of lemonade and head over to the computer and open your lemonade stand!

For math and reasoning games, visit the website FunBrain.com. There's Math Baseball, Cake Monster, MathCar Racing, Math Soccer, Measure It, Shape Surveyor, Guess the Number, Fresh Baked Fractions, and many more. Most of the games are available in Easy, Medium, Hard, and Super Hard levels for all age groups and skill levels.

Mastering Math Skills

Basic math, or arithmetic, includes counting, adding, subtracting, estimating, measuring, and calculating. As your children progress through the elementary years, additional mathematical skills will be introduced. When your child has grasped the basics, you’ll be able to help him build upon a solid mathematical foundation.

Math skills introduced in traditional schools move along so quickly, though, that if a child doesn’t catch them the first time around, they’ve often lost that window of opportunity. In your homeschool, however, if you see that your child is still struggling with basic subtraction, for instance, you won’t want to move ahead to more complex problems until he has mastered the basics. Fortunately, you have plenty of time for practicing basic concepts in your home. There’s no specific timeframe your child must stay within.

When your child has achieved true comprehension of subtraction, along with the ability to perform the calculations flawlessly, then he can move on to the next lessons. You will know without a doubt that he has truly mastered the skills he needs before moving ahead. With this solid foundation, he is ready for multiplication and division, fractions and decimals, estimation and measurement, problem solving, and more challenging mathematical equations.

Math Manipulatives

Using hands-on examples of math problems will help children better understand the abstract concepts that are introduced. You can use any objects for counting, adding, and subtracting, from buttons to beans to plastic animal counters. You can also use an abacus or counting frame with plastic beads.

Math manipulatives are available online or at retail or educational supply stores. However, you can often make your own. From poster board or construction paper, you can create coin-sized counters, pattern blocks, fraction circles, fraction slices, fraction bars, cardboard clocks, and mathematical charts. You can also make rulers, number lines, geometric boards, play money, and flashcards. And your children will enjoy the cutting and creative activities, too.

Everyday Math

Daily situations present excellent ways to put math skills to regular, logical use. In a normal day, your family can practice telling time as the minutes and hours go by. You and your children can estimate, then measure ingredients when cooking on a daily basis.

Practice money skills by regularly setting up "stores" in your home. Have children put prices on items gathered from the pantry or on toys or books gathered from their room. Make purchases, have children add up the total costs, pay with play or real money, and have children count out your correct change.

When grocery shopping, children can keep running tabs of the items you’re purchasing and see how close they come to the actual total. At the gasoline station, they can calculate the cost of your tank of gas. Then, based upon how many gallons of gasoline are in the tank and how many miles your car gets to a gallon, they can determine how far this tank of gas will go.

Every day offers mathematical problems that can be fun to solve, clearly showing children the importance of learning and applying math skills in real life.

Books and Activity Books such as Real World Math, Math Connections, Math Art, Math Wise, Real-Life Math Problem Solving, Real-World Math for Hands-On Fun, Hands-On Math Projects with Real-Life Applications provide interesting activities that help your child understand and relate key math skills to everyday life.

Remember to jot down activities and lessons in your lesson logbook or on our log sheets (available here: Weekly Planner Log link.)

Note: Some material published here include excerpts from my book, The Everything Guide to Homeschooling, by Sherri Linsenbach, available online or in libraries and bookstores.

Happy Homeschooling!

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