10 Fun (and Sneaky) Ways to Incorporate Math into the Winter Holidays

Dec 22, 2017 | Stone Oak

10 Fun (and Sneaky) Ways to Incorporate Math into the Winter Holidays


For many children the winter holidays mean sleeping late, eating extra sweets, shopping, and extra screen time. Mathnasium of Stone Oak reminds you to keep your kids brains active with fun activities.  Sharpening math skills can be fun and provide great family times. The kids won’t even notice the math that you are sneaking into the fun. Here are a few suggestions.


1. Play a game.  Math games are great, but any game kids keep score, use money, or count help with numerical fluency. At Mathnasium of TOWN we love games because they are fun and provide lots of opportunities for divergent thinking.

2. Bake something yummy. Using a recipe as it is written requires many math skills such as exact measuring, understanding sequences, counting. This is a great way to introduce basic concepts to children eight and under. But older children can learn even more by doubling or tripling a recipe. They will learn proportional thinking, multiplying fractions, and when precision is necessary versus when estimating is okay.  If it won’t ruin the day, let kids make mistakes. A loaf that doesn’t rise or a super spicy salsa makes a bigger impact about precision than someone hovering over a child. And if they follow the recipe precisely, they are rewarded with eating and sharing their creation.

3. Get musical. Music has many opportunities to talk about fractions and proportions. Don’t worry if you can’t play Rachmaninoff or can’t carry a tune. Try just clapping the beat to a favorite song.  Learn to play a simple song together, like “Old MacDonald” using sheet music. Older children should explore different time signatures, http://www.dummies.com/art-center/music/piano/common-music-time-signatures/ but younger children should stick with 4/4 time signatures (quarter notes get 1 beat, a half note gets 2 beats, a whole note gets 4 beats).


4. Get artistic. Drawing requires exploring topics such as geometry, proportional thinking, ratios and patterns. As you draw together talk about how using proportions helps create the illusion of depth https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIaXXRnL2do . You can also explore geometry with curves, angles, lines, and shapes. To get realistic pictures, precision is important. You can also try enlarging a picture using the grid method https://design.tutsplus.com/tutorials/how-to-use-a-grid-to-enlarge-an-image-while-drawing--cms-20593. If drawing is too far out of your comfort zone, there are great coloring books that provide opportunities for discussion too.


5. Do an experiment.  Find a science experiment that plays into the interest of your children. Got a gymnast? See if the head angle affects how long he or she can hold a handstand. Have a pet lover? See if Fido will sleep longer with different blankets or lighting. Science and math go hand in hand.


6. Start a small business together. Earning extra spending money is a great motivator. Help your child create a business. Calculate expenses and profit opportunities. Create a budget. Make a projection about how much money they can earn in 2 weeks and then 1 year. Kids will learn to calculate using decimals, use patterns to make predictions, and increase numerical fluency. Easy businesses for children to start include services like babysitting, yard maintenance, snow removal and dog walking.


7. Make something. Building things provides great opportunities for math. Building requires making a plan and following a sequence of steps, similar to the way students must attack challenging math problems. It also requires kids to measure accurately and calculate ratios. Sewing also provides these opportunities.


8. Have them help make travel plans. When kids help with travel plans they know the parameters of the trip. Not only does this help with math, it cuts down on complaining. Travel plans include making a budget, deciding on a timeline of activities, looking at weather patterns and packing. Kids will need to use all types of math skills to help plan a successful trip. One mom we know says she pays siblings to get along on long car rides. Then any souvenirs or special treats they want come out of their “getting along fund.” Not only do the kids get along better, they also learn how to budget their money.


9. Go shopping. Take the kids shopping for presents. Set a budget and tell them who they need to buy gifts for. They will learn to add, subtract and multiply with decimals, use money, percentages and proportional thinking. Ask questions like, “If Sarah gets a $300 Lego set, does that leave enough left over for everyone else on the list?” You may want to read our guide for giving gifts that support math skills too.

Mathnasium of Stone Oak's Gift Giving Guide to Delight Children and Support Math Skills


10.  Come into Mathnasium of Stone Oak. If your child isn’t already a student, the winter break is also a great time to give us a try. We don’t just make math make sense, we try to have fun with it too. Look at our vacation hours (find them here). Please call ahead for so we are ready for you.

This article is copyright protected. Mathnasium of Stone Oak has permission to use it. Other Mathnasium locations must buy it at hdwrite.com before using it.


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