Learning doesn’t have to stop when the school day ends. Many extracurricular clubs, classes and activities can reinforce key skills. Here are seven fun activities that build math skills—no worksheets or textbooks required!
Cooking and Baking
Measuring ingredients is a great way for kids to learn relationships between different quantities and to get comfortable with fractions. It can also help them learn ratio and proportion, and practice math calculations. If your child is whipping up a batch of cookies, why not suggest she double or halve the recipe? Fractions come alive for budding bakers when they have to figure out what 3/4 cup butter and 1 1/4 cups flour is times two or divided by two.
Lemonade Stands or Bake Sales
Whether it’s brownies or beverages, running a “sales operation” involves lots of other skills besides making change. What are the start-up costs? What is the minimum your child needs to charge to recover that money? What are people are willing to pay? At the end of the sale, ask your child to calculate his profit or how much he made an hour.
Fantasy Sports Leagues
No matter what sport your child is into, building a roster for a fantasy team involves some serious number crunching and awareness of statistics. And once the season is underway, the need for math continues. For example, each week, fantasy football players must add touchdowns, subtract turnovers and calculate yardage. Your child can join a team with friends, or play online at a site specifically geared toward kids.
Old-fashioned board games require a range of math abilities. Connect Four and Battleship build visual perceptual skills. Games like mancala require logic and mathematical reasoning. And Monopoly and Life require players to use their resources to reach a goal. Your child’s school or your local library may host a games club after school. You can also stock up on some classics and help your child start a club with friends. It may be a nice change from playing on screen!
Knitting involves real-world problem solving: “If I cast 25 stitches and knit five rows, how many stitches have I knit? And if I want to use a finer gauge yarn than the pattern calls for, how many more balls of yarn do I need?” Computational skills like multiplying and dividing are suddenly meaningful! Craft and fabric stores often offer classes. Or suggest a lunchtime knitting club at your child’s school.
Calculating how much wood the project requires and doing all of the measuring involves a lot of hands-on math. To follow directions or a blueprint, your child must use his visual-spatial abilities. They allow him to perceive the parts that make up the whole, and how they relate to each other. Bonus: Knowing how to use tools and build things are skills that will last a lifetime.
Playing an Instrument
Reading music requires counting notes to create different rhythms. One four-beat measure could consist of a single whole note held for all four beats, two half notes of two beats a piece, or four quarter notes of one beat each. In other words, when kids are playing music, they’re practicing fraction skills without even knowing it!