Take a math walk
Dan Finkel, founder and director of operations for Math for Love, an organization devoted to making math fun and easy to learn:
No one needs another thing to do, least of all parents. That’s just not sustainable.
The key is to have a little routine you can do every day, something that requires no preparation and almost zero effort. Just take a walk, keep an eye out for mathematical things around you and keep a couple of questions in your back pocket.
Here are three easy games to play on a math walk:
• How many? Look for something that’s made of many parts, like a fence, or a sidewalk with different bricks or a subdivided window. How many do you see there? Let the kids count, and see that there are different ways to group things and count them. Is it one window, or four panes of glass? How did you get that number? It’s not about just getting “the right answer,” it’s about explaining your thinking and paying attention to units.
• Target. All you need is a four-digit house number. Come up with a formula using each of those digits once to try to hit a target number. The classic target is 24, but as you play you can start with 10 as the target for your first game, try for 11 for the next, and go all the way up to 99. Say your house number is 3028; one formula could be: (3 x 8) – (0 x 2) = 24. It’s a game you can play competitively or collaboratively, and you can break it out any time the world gives you four numbers.
• Estimate. How many steps do you think it will take us to get to that next telephone pole? Kids are usually wildly wrong on their first guesses, but then they get uncannily good at eyeballing something and putting a number on it.