Got a kid who hates math? Teach those tricky numbers to your reluctant learner with play! Instead of drilling facts with flash cards while your child only half pays attention, grab the sidewalk chalk and head outdoors for a rousing game of Math Run! The combination of math, physical fitness and and friendly competition is perfect for burning off extra energy, sharpening math skills (especially multiplication tables) and learning mental math—all at the same time.
What You Do:
- Help your child mark off an area on the concrete of at least 6 feet x 6 feet. The larger the area, the farther your child will need to run; make any changes necessary based on physical fitness.
- Show your budding mathematician a list of numbers you want him to draw on in the area. Make sure the numbers are at least 6 inches apart and that there are numbers in each of the corners, but leave the center of the marked off area clear.
- Have him write the word "START" in the center of the game area in big, brightly colored letters.
- You're ready to play! Tell your kid to stand on the word "START" and wait for you to call out math problems. Explain that he'll need to run to 10 correct answers to win the game. Have him return to "START" each time he misses a problem. If he answers incorrectly, the count begins at 0 again.
- Call out math problems (such as 2 x 2) and ask your child to run to the answer. Once he's finished doing mental math to figure out the problem, he should run to that number and wait to see if he's correct.
- The game ends after a series of 10 correct answers. If multiple kids are playing, the first child to run to the tenth correct answer wins.
This game is easily adapted for different levels of math. Stick to smaller numbers (0-9) for younger children, and create more complex problems for older players, including multiplication, division and square root problems. Big kids will enjoy the added adventure of hunting for the correct answer, so use the sidewalk chalk to draw on brick walls, rocks and other items around the yard. Once the child's figured out the answer, he'll need to complete a scavenger hunt to find it!
Did You Know?
Although chalk has been around since the stone age (it is a mineral composed of calcite), most people credit children's author Sharon McKay and her husband with the invention of sidewalk chalk. Sharon wrote a book titled Chalk Around the Block, in which she talked about fatter, colored chalk used on the sidewalk.