Math is one of those subjects with a tricky reputation. Kids who have difficulty with math can benefit from creative math projects like art, games or reading books. Fortunately for me, my 3rd grader loves math. Honestly, I can’t take the credit, he was always drawn to numbers and systems, even as a toddler. As a result, math activities and games have naturally played a large role in our at-home learning.
I’m not sure what’s in the math cards for my younger son. Maybe he’ll need extra help in math, maybe he’ll love it. Only time will tell (as the saying goes).
Many parents look for ways to supplement their kids’ math learning after school, whether that’s extra help or extra stimulation. For kids who “hate math,” traditional worksheets are a tedious bore. Try a more playful, creative approach to encourage your kids to see the mathematical possibilities in other areas of life. Here are some suggestions: (Note: affiliate links are included below.)
Create Math Art
Yup, you read that right. Math and art intersect in lots of ways. In fact, I use math art projects as a way to get my more practically inclined son to engage his creative side. For kids more naturally inclined towards artistic projects rather than math, these are a great way to get those left brains fired up.
- Make tessellations. Kiddo has done this a few times. I always join him, because truthfully, I find it quite relaxing!
- Draw with math and geometry tools like a compass, triangle and circle protractors and rulers.
- Make a mobius strip. Cut it and see what happens. It’s not what you think.
- Play around with homemade Montessori triangles. The triangles can be formed into lovely shapes and patterns, all the while teaching a bit of how geometry works.
- Play with shapes by making your own tangrams. Kiddo adores playing with the magnetic X-Ball we got at a local math museum.
- My 3rd grader still loves dot to dots, especially Extreme Dot to Dot puzzle books. They are also handy to tote along to restaurants or waiting rooms. My kindergartener gets down on the floor with a DIY giant dot to dot.
- Explore the Golden Ratio in art. (via Artchoo!)
Play a Math Game
- Kiddo loves Sudoku and KenKen. Not only do these kind of number puzzles work logic and math skills but completing a puzzle gives a real sense of satisfaction. He started out with Kindergarten Sudoku and loves his colorku wooden puzzle.
- Play a family game that uses math. Getting the whole family involved makes it more fun and adds an extra layer of support. Take a look at 5 of our favorite math games.
- Play a card game with your child like Tens Go Fish, Make Ten or Reduce It, a card game that teaches fractions.
- Put together a simple DIY number matching game perfect for Kindergarteners.
- Put together a DIY math puzzle game to show different ways of writing the same problem. (via Relentlessly Fun, Deceptively Educational).
Measure in the Kitchen
Every cook knows that cooking requires fractions, addition, and sometimes a bit of geometry. The bonus of math practice in the kitchen is that it always results in something delicious.
- Measure and fold hand pies for a practical application of geometry.
- When using a timer, practice subtraction. For example, “We set the timer for 30 minutes. 20 minutes are left, how many minutes have the potatoes been in the oven?”
- Make an array of cookies on a baking sheet.
- Twist pretzels into numbers.
- Find a kid friendly cookbook for recipes for further inspiration. (via KCEdventures)
Read a Math Book
You didn’t think I’d let you go without a few books to pick up on your next trip to the library did you?
- Math chapter books are great for both independent readers and as read alouds.
- Find some math picture book inspiration on my Pinterest board.
- Read about Fibonacci and head out to the park to find math in nature.
What about you? How does your child feel about math? Do he like it? Hate it? How do you support math after school? Share your ideas in the comments.