The lack of routine at the beginning of summer vacation is fun for about three days. After that, I begin to see my children’s brains turn to mush.

Each year around June 15th, I begin my fight against the threat of brain degeneration. My previous strategy included a trip to the local teacher store for workbooks at the correct grade levels for my kids. This worked fine until money got tight, and I couldn’t afford as many educational materials as I wanted to buy.

In order to supplement the curriculum I could afford, I came up with a few easy math activities to do with kids over summer break. These are appropriate for younger and older kids and can be adjusted to fit your child’s age and developmental level.

Make Your Own Counting Book

Use a notebook and have your child title the first page "My Counting Book." On the next page, write the number one at the top, number two on the second page, and so on. Provide as many numbered pages as you’d like, depending on your child’s age and skill level.

For a short time each day, have your child provide a picture that demonstrates the number at the top of the page. For example, if the number is "eight," have your child draw eight birdhouses along with writing the number eight. For a fun alternative, provide stickers, beads, or foam shapes for kids to glue into their notebooks to illustrate the number on the page.

Egg Math Game

This activity will require an egg crate and either plastic Easter eggs, paper eggs or foam eggs that you make and cut in half. On one side of an egg, write a math problem in permanent marker. The difficulty of the math problems will depend on the age and academic level of your children, but the problems can be addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, or even fractions.

Write the answer to each problem on the other halves of the eggs. Repeat this for at least twelve eggs, separate them, and mix them up in a large container. Then your kids can spend some time matching the eggs and putting them into the crate! For an extra challenge, create eight to ten more egg math problems each week to throw into the container.

Clean Out the Junk Drawer

This is a great activity that cleans something while at the same time allows your kids to practice counting, sorting and classifying objects, and solving a variety of math problems.

Take everything out of the junk drawer (ours is in the kitchen) and simply dump it on the table. With your kids, separate the items and sort them into categories, which may include coins, pens, pencils, permanent markers, stuff that absolutely belongs somewhere else, scissors, and notepads, among other things.

While sorting, have your kids make addition, subtraction, multiplication or division problems using the items. One additional problem I personally like is 1 cleaned out junk drawer + 2 kids helping = Mom feels more sane! When you’re done with the junk drawer, considering moving on to another catch-all area of the house, like a closet or the garage!

On a Roll

This game is fun for the whole family. Grab two dice or make them out of cubes. Each person takes turns rolling the dice and adding up the numbers, and the first to 100 wins. Variations on this game include increasing the total to 250 or more, as well as multiplying the numbers on the dice instead of adding them (the first to 500 wins).

What’s the Best Deal? I’m not going to lie to you, shopping with my kids is not my favorite activity. I try to go without them, but the fact remains that they’re with me a lot more over the summer. Plus, I need to teach them about shopping smart while I can!

One way I like to do this is through the Shopping Trip Scavenger Hunt. There are two versions of this activity, one for younger kids and one for older kids. For both levels, these sheets provide interactions with items in the grocery store, as well as activities that involve counting, adding, couponing, and thinking about how a grocery store is set up to cater to consumers. And kids are consumers.

These five easy math activities have helped me stay involved in my kids’ education and support whatever teaching materials my budget has allowed. And by September, it’s clear that these activities are well worth the effort!


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