Doing math doesn’t have to mean sitting inside with a worksheet, especially during the summer!
When school is out and the weather is nice, kids and adults alike can enjoy the freedom while still stretching the brain. Summer is a rich opportunity to bring mathematical thinking into these fun indoor and outdoor activities. Explore numbers, engineering, measurements and more with structured math activities, or ask the right questions to evoke mathematical thinking in almost any activity!
We have rounded up activities that can be adapted for children of different ages, for outdoors or camping, and with different materials. These activities are great to review math concepts, but also to explore new math concepts and experience them before a formal introduction in the classroom later.
Fun Summer Math Activities
1. Math and Movement Activity: Nina Wu shares several activity ideas through a quick series of videos on MIND Research Institute. Get moving outdoors or indoors as a family, stretching both your body and your brain with the concepts of angles and/or digits.
2. Outdoor Number Line Activity: Allison from No Time for Flashcards shares this activity where kids can find numbers and solve equations using the number line. All you need is a sidewalk or blacktop and a piece of chalk!
2. Finding Symmetry in Nature: Young explorers can find natural objects on a hike or at a park and explore symmetry in this activity from Chelsey at Buggy and Buddy.
3. Paper Frisbee Geometry: Use geometry concepts to create your own frisbee, then fly them as an experiment, following the outline from Almost Unschoolers.
4. Build a Marble Run: Sarah from Frugal Fun with Boys shows us how to get crafty with craft sticks and cardboard boxes to create marble runs and mazes with young engineers.
5. Lego Math: Using legos as a measurement of weight, children gain number sense by comparing and estimating weight in this activity idea also from Sarah.
6. Newspaper Forts: Young engineers create triangles out of rolled up newspapers to build their own fort structures. Find the activity at Modern Parents Messy Kids.
7. Skewer Structures: Children get hands on with this engineering activity shared by Ana from Babble Dabble Do.
8. Math Art with Parabolic Curves: Get hands-on with parabolic curves by creating your own math art with these activities from What Do We Do All Day? Get physical and use string to recreate the art in 3-D!
9. Timing Outdoor Races: Young children explore the concept of time (How long is a minute?) in this outdoor activity from Carla at Preschool Powol Packets.
10. Pi(e) Baking: Bake and learn together with this Pi(e) Day recipe from Nina Wu at MIND Research Institute. Try the activity with one of these summer favorites: key lime pie, strawberry cream pie, meringue pie or chocolate mousse pie.
11. Water Balloon Math: Make a splash with math! This activity from No Time for Flashcards can be adapted to practice sums, fractions or multiplication, for any level of mathematician.
12. Math Board Games: At a table indoors or outdoors, break out a board game for a sit down break. Check out this compilation of board games from Calli Wright at MIND Research Institute
13. Explore Shadows: This activity from The Pinterested Parent combines art and math to explore shapes, and the connections between 2D and 3D objects.
14. Compare Weights With A Balance Scale: Enjoy comparing the weight of everyday objects in plastic containers using a bucket balance scale. Learn the concepts of heavy and light and have fun sorting the objects by their weight with Jennifer from Early Learning Ideas.
15. DIY Water Wall: Rachel from Tinkerlab shares this do-it-yourself water wall. Students can help you design the wall as well as interacting with the wall by pouring water to see what happens. What happens when you pour 1 cup of water? What about a pint?
16. Math Storybooks: Ready for a story break? Read a math storybook together on your phone or tablet device, offered for free from MIND Research Institute.
Turn Any Summer Activity into a Math Experience
Planning a boat trip? A summer hike? Bicycling? Many summer activities can be turned into a math experience for your kids just by asking some intriguing questions. Questions like these help make math more accessible and applicable to the world around us.
What do you notice about…?
What do you think will happen if...?
What changed when we did that?
Why did that happen?
How can we…?
Which way was better/shorter/faster?
About the Author
Calli Wright was the Marketing Manager at MIND Research Institute. She loves playing and designing board games, which she often talks about on twitter