It can be very hard to encourage your children and get them excited about learning during the summer months. We all know how important it is for them to keep reading every day and continue developing their math skills. The teacher in me knows the implications if my children don't spend several days a week reviewing concepts and keeping their math facts fresh. And the only way I can get my own children to do summer math work is to make it fun and have them think it is their idea!
To do this, we created a problem solving box together that will have tons of problems for them to pull out and solve on a daily or weekly basis. My daughter is 9, going into 4th grade and my son is 6, going into 1st grade. Because of their age difference, they each made their own box with age-appropriate problems in them. If your children are closer in age or grades, keep it simple by creating one family box.
Follow the steps below to create your problem-solving box and help make math more interesting during the summer months!
1. Buy or decorate your problem-solving box – it's very important that children feel a sense of ownership when creating the box or they won't be invested in it. It can be a shoe box, tissue box, bucket, etc., that you buy or find at home. Let your children use paint, markers, stickers -- whatever they want to make it their own and feel proud of their work.
2. Fill the box with problems – the easiest way to fill the problem-solving box is to either cut up problems from a workbook or print out problems online. Most kids hate doing math problems in a workbook over the summer because it reminds them too much of school. But if you cut the problems out or into smaller sections they tend to find it fun and interesting to solve the problems. Any math website will have problems that you can print out and cut up to put inside the box. I actually let my kids choose the problems themselves. Giving them the independence makes a huge difference when it comes time to actually doing the work. The type of problems you choose depends on your individual child. Some students need constant support with their facts so cut out 6 problems at a time to isolate their facts. Other students need to focus on word problems or strategies for solving more difficult problems. You can create the problems to be focused on a specific need or mix them all up. Here are a few websites that offer free, printable worksheets:
3. Answer booklet – my kids have their own notebooks that they picked out at the dollar store where they answer all their problems. You can decide ahead of time how best to have them solve the problems -- whether it is mental, in a book, or on a piece of paper. My children either tape or staple the problem they are solving at the top of their notebook and show their work below, like a mini math journal.
4. Set a schedule – find a location for your problem-solving box and set a schedule ahead of time of how often and when the problem-solving box will be used. The most important thing about summer work is keeping it consistent. Make sure whatever schedule you set (once a day, 3 times a week), you do it at the same time and stick with it!
I hope your family has as much fun with your summer problem-solving box as we do!