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Keeping your child’s mind active during the summer vacation

The summer holiday break is well upon us and school is almost a distant memory. It is important then to keep the young people in our lives as busy and entertained as possible. There are many ways in which you can help to keep your child’s mathematical brain ticking over during the vacation and in fun ways (without the need of a pencil or paper).

There are mathematical opportunities all around us at every moment - we just need to see them and, what’s more, learning about mathematics outside the classroom environment gives children an opportunity to see the world in a different way. In turn, this will actually help their mathematical understanding.

The benefits are:

  • higher levels of motivation
  • almost limitless resources
  • an opportunity to view maths in a cross-curricular way
  • an increase in curiosity leading to more effective exploration
  • meaningful application of problem solving strategies and thinking skills
  • a heightened sense of purpose and relevance
  • the all-important bridge between theory and reality
  • greater independence and an improved attitude to learning
  • greater enjoyment and achievement
  • a realisation that our environment offers opportunities for learning

There are many ways in which you can help your child enjoy mathematics within a real context and have great fun learning and talking together. Listed below are some possible questions. You could use the images attached but, even better, if you find yourself in these actual (or similar) places then you could use the real thing!

Photo 1 (Yas Waterworld)

How many seconds will you take to get from the top of the slide to the bottom? (Using the stopwatch on a mobile phone). Who was the fastest?  How many colours can you see?

Photo 2 (Highway)

  • Look at the cars - what numbers can you see on the registration plates?
  • Add the numbers on the registration plate ie 7112. What is the total? Who can find the largest total?
  • Who can find the most 6’s? 2’s? 9’s?

Photo 3 (Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque)

How many domes can you see?  What shapes can you find? Which part of the Mosque is the tallest?

Photo 4 (Bouncing balls)

  • How many jumps/hops/skips etc in a one minute? (Using the stopwatch on a mobile phone)
  • How many bounces of the ball can you make in 30 seconds? 10 seconds? One minute?

Other questions for everyday situations might include:

  • Which shapes can you see? 2 Dimensional shapes? 3 Dimensional?
  • How many triangles can you see?
  • What shape is the…?
  • How many right angles can you see?
  • Round up the number of triangles to the nearest ten.
  • Estimate (make a good guess) how many? Was your estimate a good one?
  • Estimate and measure the length and height of...

Further ideas for older children…

  • Are there any parallel lines?
  • How many right angles can you see?
  • Organise a BBQ or party…How many people are coming? How many litres of juice will you need?
  • What percentage of people prefer pizza topped with pepper? Mushroom? Cheese?
  • How would you describe that as a decimal figure?
  • Bake a cake, follow a recipe or make your own pizza dough – weigh and measure the ingredients using litres, kgs, grams and mg’s.

If you are planning a holiday…

  • What time is your flight? Bus? Train?
  • How long will the journey take?
  • What will the time will you arrive?
  • How many miles have you travelled?
  • What is the temperature?
  • Is the temperature higher or lower than before?
  • How many degrees higher / lower?
  • Can you count out / your coins and money Count in 2’s, 5’s, 10’s? How much do you have?

Think of these key questions as you talk with your children:

  • Tell me about…?
  • What can you say about…?
  • Can you explain … why…?
  • What do you think will happen next?
  • What would you see if…?

Simply spending time with your child and talking with them is one of the most valuable things you can do as a parent. Keep your eyes peeled and your mind open to the everyday mathematical opportunities around you. Have a super summer!

Ms Tammy Marsh, Primary Maths Subject Leader at The British International School Abu Dhabi.