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Math is for Everyone: Resources for Quick and Easy Family-Centered Math Activities

Posted Jun 30 2009 5:15pm

Math Stamping Whether you homeschool, are actively seeking summer bridge activities, or just want something to do with the kids every now and then, math is something that can be really nice to do together as a family. Especially if you’re not that into math yourself.

We all know the many benefits, for parents and children, of family-centered activities. But family-centered activities that are also learning-centered have additional benefits–they model good learning habits, and they make learning fun. They can also, if you, yourself, are a little dicey about a certain subject, go a long way towards NOT passing down that same leeriness in your children (It took my partner and I several minutes, and a paper and pencil, to figure out the per-comic price in a Classifieds ad in which a guy was selling 1400 comic books for $99–we do NOT want our daughters to grow up that fundamentally math-stupid).

Here are some of my favorite books that present fun math activities for young and old, for math novices and math experts:

  • Nifty Thrifty Math Crafts, by Michele C. Hollow. I like hands-on stuff, especially arts and crafts, so this book is an accessible way for me to sneak some math projects into my family’s finger-painting, play dough, bead-stringing, chalk drawing day.
  • Fun with Math. The nice thing about this book is that the instructions for each project are contained within each two-page spread, with lots of photo illustrations, so slightly older kids could even do many of these independently. If you’re looking for projects that are overtly math-centric, however, you might have a harder time making the connection between size comparison and finger puppets, for instance.
  • Games for Math, by Peggy Kaye. For a very tactile, body-oriented, or active family, these games are a great way to take math outside, or in the car, or into the playroom, helping kids internalize some basic to very advanced math concepts.
  • Bringing Math Home, by Suzanne L. Churchman. Especially helpful for kids in traditional school institutions, these games and activities are overtly tied to specific school-level learning goals for specific grades.
  • Eenie Meenie Miney Math. This book is primarily for families with preschoolers, and most of the games are simple things that you may or may not have thought of on your own–matching coins, for instance, or drawing patterns in sand.
  • Counting on Math, by Kathy Faggella and Martha A. Hayes. This book is for children from preschool through about grade two in a traditional school system, and includes not just games and activities and craft projects to do together as a family, but also a few worksheet pages to photocopy and give to a kid to keep her occupied for a few minutes while you drink your coffee.
  • Cool Math, by Christy Maganzini. Written to children who are independent readers, this book includes lots of games, such as number magic and cipher codes, that families can play together to strengthen everyone’s mental math abilities.
  • 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Raise a Child Who Loves Math, Kathy A. Zahler. There are fewer specific games and activities in this book than there are ongoing lifestyle-type projects, such as how to help kids start a savings plan, or how to set kids up to plan the family road trip.
  • Play and Find Out about Math: Easy Activities for Young Children, by Janice VanCleave. Although the activities are geared towards young children, most are pracitical little exercises that can be fun for anyone who hasn’t thought of them before–how to accurately divide a candy bar into different fractions, or how to use your knuckles to tell how many days a month has, or how to draw a star or make paper doll chains.
  • The Giant Encyclopedia of Math Activities for Children 3 to 6: The benefit of this book, also geared towards young children, is that almost all the activities are designed to work in a small group–playdate, anyone?

What fun family stuff do you do that involves math?

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