Math Tricks

How can you make math a part of your child’s day without it seeming like torture?  Before you drag out the “extra” worksheets you asked your child’s teacher to send home or reach for the flashcards, let me share some tricks that will help you incorporate mathematical facts and mathematical thinking into your day that don’t seem overly “math-y”.

Hit the Road

Sprinkle your next road trip with some math facts.  Whenever my kids were in the car with me I would ask them math facts when we stopped at a red light.  When the light turned green, the rapid fire math questioning was over.  Practicing math facts in small increments like this makes the task more tolerable…and maybe even fun!  How many facts can they answer before the light turns green?  My kids still have fond memories of practicing facts this way. 

The Prequel to Something Fun

Oooh!  This one is super sneaky!  As your child is getting ready to do a fun activity, perhaps go outside or to play with a friend, have them answer three math questions.  You can name this activity, “Three and You’re Free!”  Whether they answer the questions correctly or not, after they answer three, they are free to go!

Guess the Total

My family and I love to play a game we call, “Guess the Total” when eating out at restaurants.  This fun game has a myriad of mathematical purposes. For starters, it makes kids pay attention to what they are ordering on the menu.  It also provides them with an opportunity to apply those estimation and rounding skills they learned in class.  (I still remember teaching my third grade students the rounding rhyme, “Four or less let it rest and five or more let it soar”!)  It is also the perfect opportunity to teach kids how to calculate a tip.  The person whose guess is closest to the actual total gets bragging rights!  But, in reality, they gain so much more than that.  

In closing, helping kids master math facts and develop their mathematical thinking are important life skills.  Sneaking math games into your child’s daily routine can turn otherwise boring practice into play.