As an educator for a couple of decades now and a mom for almost half of those years, I will be the first to tell you that I have a love- hate relationship with the last weeks of August. As much as I do love the crazy rollercoaster calendar of summer play and vacation, I start to crave the comfort of the crisp fall mornings and predictability of the school schedule. So I have compiled a few of my favorite ideas that have worked for me either as a teacher, parent, or even ‘Crazy Auntie’ to help the kids I care about feel a bit more confident as they head back to the classrooms.
Here some ‘last minute’ Back to School ideas to polish those math skills and science inquiry below. You should also check out my other blog on reading strategies and writing practice.
Please feel free to adapt to age, ability, and even interest accordingly.
You as the parent or caregiver know your child best.
Educational games focused on math skills help kids increase both speed and accuracy.
• Have a younger child (ages 3-5) count the total dots and write the numbers on a white board
• Compare numbers by asking which is greater/less than. Or order them from least to greatest
• Have grade school child (ages 6-10) practice math facts use the dots on one side as one number to add (or multiply) the dots on the other side as the second number to add (multiply)
use for ‘fact family’ or related facts
For addition and subtraction practice
2, 3, & 5 is a Fact Family for: 2+3=5, 3+2=5, 5-3=2 and 5-2=3
For multiplication and division practice
2, 5, & 10 is a Fact Family for: 2 x 5=10, 5 x 2 =10, and 10 divided by 5 =2 and 10 divided by 2=5
• Turn the domino horizontal and read it as a two digit number- repeat with a second domino and add them together or create a subtraction problem
• Build a domino tower or stack… if your child can add the total then it can be knocked down
• Older students (9-12) the domino as a fraction: top dots are the numerator (the top number of a fraction representing the whole)and bottom dots are the denominator ( the bottom number in a fraction – compare, order, make equivalent fractions, add/ subtract/ multiply or divide dominoes as fractions
Educational games focused on scientific inquiry
Go outside with a notebook, pencil, and a piece of yarn or string that is about four feet long. Form a circle loop or square on the ground, preferably natural or grassy area. Have your child draw, take photos or list everything observed in that string. Then have your child make a prediction what might be seen with a magnifying glass. Report and record results. Then make predictions what might be observed the next day or in a different season.
Steps to experiments:
• Making predictions
• Testing hypothesis(best guess)
• Recording observations/ results
• Making conclusion (summarizing what was learned)
As the school supplies sales taunt the last weeks of summer vacation, parents everywhere are anxious to make sure their kids are prepared not just with sharp pencils, but primed academic skills too.
By using games and play as learning tools, kids get the practice to revive prior knowledge and awaken their natural curiosities. We as parents might just survive and make it to the first day of school!
Written by Sarah S. Hill, M.Ed. & M.O.M.