Archive for July, 2011

Make Math a Bigger Part of Summer

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Wow! There are just days left in the Summer Activities Challenge and I, for one, really don’t want it to end. The nearly overwhelming stream of enthusiastic comments and emails about the Challenge are a Community Manager’s dream. But, I guess there are lots of families out there who can’t wait to hear if they’re one of the lucky winners of a $500 back to school splurge or one of ten indoor/outdoor kids croquet sets… so, I guess I’m okay with it.

A yummy way to get kids excited about early arithmetic.

If you haven’t joined the Summer Activities Challenge yet, it isn’t too late. Or maybe you simply need your kids (who, believe it or not, will soon be back in school!) to brush up on their math skills. Well, either way, look no further! Here’s a collection of some members’ favorite math activities for each grade that will surely get the job done:

Preschool: Craft a Cereal Abacus

Kindergarten: Button Math! Have Fun with Buttons

First Grade: Bowling for Addition

Second Grade: 10 Card Games to Boost Second Grade Math Skills

Third Grade: 8 Activities to Help Your Child Master Third Grade Math

Fourth Grade: Practice Math with the “Guess the Groceries” Game

Fifth Grade: Explore Circumference with Your Bicycle Wheel

Middle School: Face Off! An Integer Card Game

High School: Snake Eyes on the SAT

As you can see, between card games, biking, and grocery shopping there are many inventive (and sneaky!) ways to make math a much bigger part of summer break. Chances are, kids will get so caught up in the competitive challenge of these activities, they won’t even realize that they’re practicing important math skills.

If you and your kids complete any of these activities, make sure to enter them into the Summer Activities Challenge by clicking the “We did the activity!” button below the title of each activity. Yep, it’s that easy!

Sneak Some Science into Summer

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

I can’t believe it’s already mid-July, and there are only a couple weeks left in the Summer Activities Challenge (and only half of summer!). The great thing about the Challenge that we hear from many of the participants is that it’s a great way to transition kids to the new school year by reviewing important concepts – while taking part in a fun contest complete with cool prizes (like a $500 Back to School Splurge or one of 10 indoor/outdoor kids croquet sets).

A very squirmy, wormy "hotel"

A very squirmy, wormy "hotel"

From using a rainbow of liquids to explore acoustics to making a worm “hotel”, many of our science-themed activities are chock-full of basic (and more advanced) science skills – just don’t tell your kids when they’re ooh-ing and aah-ing. Here are five favorites from members:

-Fossilize Your Footprints: one visitor suggested using this play-dough “fossil” activity as a learning opportunity to discover local fossils and talk about the job of a paleontologist.

-Make Gak: This one sounds like it’s just plain fun, but it’s also a great excuse to learn about states of matter. A few of our members had a great idea: add some food coloring to liven it up.

-Make a Mini Marshmallow Popper: What’s better than exploring physics? Exploring physics, and then getting to snack on some marshmallows… Samantha says this was “GREAT fun! Especially for boys!”

-The Incredible Flexible Egg Experiment: You’ve got to see this one to believe it. Plus, all it takes is a hard-boiled egg, glass bottle, matches, and an adult helper. Sheila told us that this one is “Soooo easy and yet soooo cool. It’s still one of my favorite ‘tricks.’”

-Make a Soda Bottle Greenhouse: Attention green thumbs! Kara mentioned that her son had been wanting a garden, and “this gives him a way to have a small garden himself.”

And that’s not all! We have science activities for all grades and all themes, from ones that take days to create to experiments that take seconds to observe.

If you try any of these out, make sure to add them to click “We did this activity!” to add them to your Summer Activities Challenge. Remember: you only have to complete five fun activities for a chance to win.