Math is fun! While boring worksheets can burn students out and turn math into drudgery, simple activities can inspire a love for it. Math might not be your favorite subject, but it doesn’t have to be that way for your children. Here are 6 ways to make math meaningful and fun for your children.
1. Make it Hands-on
A hands-on math activity is one that involves children doing something instead of passively learning through reading or writing. The more active the activity is, the more engaged children become. The idea is to get your children to use their other senses while trying to solve and understand math problems. For example, you could have your children solve equations using movement, like dancing.
To begin, choose one of the following operations – addition, subtraction, or multiplication. Next, write blank problem on a piece of paper without any values like this – __ + __ = __. Then, pick a dance move and write it above the math problem. Roll a dice to fill in the blanks in the Left Hand Side (LHS) of your equation. Ask your children to find the solution and that’s how many times or seconds they have to do their dance.
Introducing manipulatives is another great way to make math hands-on. Anything that you can use to show an equation or value visually is a manipulative. Give them to your children to help them complete problems on flash cards. Be creative and offer a hands-on activity to reinforce basic math facts and make lasting memories!
2. Real Life Math
Older children love to be involved in the adult world. Give them tasks where they have to use math skills to complete the work. Have them plant a garden, measuring the spaces between the seeds. They could calculate how much water their garden will need and how much that will cost. You could even allow them to sell their produce and estimate their profit. The possibilities are endless! Children will feel great about accomplishing meaningful work, see the value in studying math and get excited about it!
3. Magic Motivators
Simple reward system can make a huge difference in the way your children view math and learning in general. The key is to find something that your children really desire. Is it a special toy, treat, game, or a special outing with you? Whatever it may be, rewards help develop a love for math that stems from the excitement only personalized motivation can bring.
4. Art and Music
Art and Music are often treated as extras, unnecessary subjects. However, math is central to both art and music.
Math art is very popular because famous painters like Leonardo DaVinci used mathematical concepts to plan their works. Children will love the patterns and designs they can create applying these same concepts, and your budding artist will love improving his work with them.
You don’t have to learn math to be a great artist, but learning to read music requires it. If you can find instruments your children like to play, this will increase their problem solving abilities and introduce math skills in a very fun way.
5. Math Apps.
Your children won’t even know they’re learning when playing a fun math app. These games are portable and you can target specific areas that your children need the most practice. Plus, your children are learning how to use the technology at the same time.
6. Mr. Potato Head, Barbie Dolls, and Blocks.
Children have a special connection to toys and imaginative play. If you connect their favorite toys to math concepts, they will be begging to learn more! You can use toys as manipulatives, magic motivators or as props. Our favorite toys to help make math fun are blocks. They help children visualize equations, enhance spatial visualization skills, practice measurement, estimate, and much more. My daughter Audrey likes to measure her “skyscraper” and compare the height to other things in the house.
There are countless ways to make math fun for children, but don’t think too hard when it comes to teaching basic concepts. If you engage with your children and capitalize on everyday experiences, they will pick up these skills naturally. Don’t second guess your abilities as your children’s first and best teacher!