I hope everyone is having a wonderful and relaxing summer! The warmer months are a great time to lounge by the pool, travel or catch up on reading — but they also provide a great opportunity to incorporate some math into your summer fun.
Working our brains over the summer helps keep us sharp and ready to jump back into classes this fall. Think of your brain like a muscle — you want to give it plenty of exercise so it stays strong. Take a look at the suggestions below: these non-traditional activities will strengthen your mathematical reasoning skills and hone your creativity, while giving you (or your daughter) hours of summer fun!
Structure-Building Competition: Challenge a friend or sibling to see who can build the tallest/craziest/strongest structure with a designated set of materials. My personal favorites to use are toothpicks and mini-marshmallows, but you can also use building blocks like popsicle sticks and pipe cleaners.
Logic Puzzles: For your next long car trip, get a book of logic puzzles like Sudoku, KenKen, or magic triangles. You can even print them out from sites like this one.
Water Balloon Math: Water balloons are a great way to stay cool during the hot summer months. Why not also learn some math while you’re at it? In your yard, lay down a bunch of hula hoops and mark each one with a (preferably waterproof) number. (One easy option: tape construction paper to wooden skewers to serve as “flags” staked in the ground.) Prior to filling each balloon, choose a math fact to solve — like 6 x 7, or a more complex problem like 2(6 – 2) – 4(7 – 6). As you pick up each water balloon, solve the math problem and then throw the balloon at the appropriate hula hoop. For a more exciting experience, you can pin the numbers to each player’s shirt and then (lightly) toss the water balloons at each other!
Balloon Magic Trick: This suggestion is a bit more scientific than mathematical, but is sure to amaze. In a dish, mix together some salt and pepper. Then blow up a balloon and rub it in your hair until your hair starts sticking straight up. Next, carefully hold the balloon over the salt and pepper mixture. Pretty cool, right?
Make a Picture Using Desmos: Desmos is a wonderful online graphing tool. It is easy to use and they even have a free app for math on the go. You can get creative and make some amazing pictures using math! Here are a few examples.
Elena Bertrand, Upper School Math Teacher