If you’re finding it painful to get your child to practice math lessons learned throughout the school year and her skills are slipping, try this mental and physical multitasking game to get your child back into the swing of things. This physical coordination reinforcement activity uses a hula hoop to get the mental juices flowing. It's especially fun with two or more players taking turns and keeping score, but it works just as well with one.
Make a list of the multiplication tables your child has learned during the school year. Your child will be reflecting on and reinforcing these lessons as she looks back on what she’s learned. Space these out on the page so that you will be able to cut each item into a separate strip of paper. Once the list seems substantial, cut up the paper, fold it in half, and place it in the bowl or hat.
Now let the hula thinking begin! Start by having one person pick a piece of paper from the bowl, read the category out loud and get ready with the hula hoop. The other player will be the note taker, and should write down the times table category and name of the Hula Hooper for score-keeping purposes. Put the paper back in the cup once read, so it can be picked it in the future.
The hula hoop player starts hooping, while reciting the times table category that she has chosen. For example, if she has chosen the 6 times table, she should recite "6, 12, 18, 24 ..." as she keeps the hula hoop up. Using a stopwatch or other kind of timer, the note taker keeps track of how long the hula hooper keeps the hoop going while still managing to recite the answers. The turn ends when the hula hoop falls to the ground and stops or the hooper can't come up with any more products.
Now the next player gets a turn, following steps 2 and 3, until everyone gets a chance to play and all of the multiplication tables are practiced by each player. If a player chooses a number they've already done, they should place the paper back in the cup and choose again.
Alicia Danyali, BS Elementary Education, taught primary-level students for four years at the International School of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The last four years of her teaching career, she taught at the Washington International School in Washington, D.C. She recently completed writing a series of children's picture books and is a mother of one young son.