Adding and subtracting two-digit numbers. Telling time. Counting money. Even early multiplication. You can help your child master these 2nd grade math skills simply by playing games in and around the house. Leave the flashcards and worksheets to the teacher; if you want your child to love numbers, show her how math is part of everyday life and she’ll be eager to learn more.
Here are ten fun ways to introduce your child to the world of math. Because children learn in different ways, we’ve arranged these activities by learning style
For the visual learner
Estimate the weight of a household object. Ask your child to guess the weight of the family cat, a dictionary, a glass of water. Then use the scale to find out the real weight. Have her estimate her own weight, and that of other family members. Were her estimates on target?
Buy your child a watch with an hour and second hand. Periodically ask her to tell you what time it is. Ask questions: “If Arthur comes on at 4 p.m., how many more minutes do you have to wait?” “It takes me 15 minutes to drive to the store. Do I have time to get there before it closes at 5 p.m.?”
For the physical learner
Play card games. War and Go Fish are classic card games that reinforce basic math concepts such as greater and less than, as well as grouping by category.
Host a book or toy exchange party. Have each child bring along four or five used books or toys to sell; price all the books under one dollar (24 cents, 60 cents, etc.). Give each child one dollar in play money to spend and let them sort through the selection for about 15 minutes. When it’s time to pay for the books, help the children count out the money and determine whether they have any left over or have gone over their budget. This activity reinforces making change and money skills.
Measure your family. The National PTA recommends this family activity: Use a tape measure or ruler to record the heights of everyone in your family. Total the inches to see how “tall” you are all together. Try it again with everyone’s weight. A good way to practice adding two-digit numbers.
Play board games that use counting and paper money. Games such as Monopoly Junior are aimed at ages 5 through 8 but are still fun for parents or older siblings.
Play with money. This is a family game: The goal is to be the first player to win a set amount of money (75 cents, 50 cents). Roll a pair of dice. Each person gets the number of pennies shown on the dice. As each player gets five pennies, replace them with a nickel. Replace ten pennies with a dime, and so on. The first player to reach the set amount wins. Reinforces grouping skills, and counting by fives.
Plan and shop for a meal. Give your child the grocery circular from the newspaper. Give her a budget ($30, $50) and have her plan a dinner for your family. If she goes over the budget, what can she subtract? If she has money left over, what else can she buy? Then go to the store and shop for the items together. Did her estimates match the real total?
For the auditory learner
Play a guessing game. A good one for a car trip: Have your child think of a number between one and 100. Try to guess the number by asking questions such as “Is it greater than 50?” “Is it between 35 and 55?” Then switch roles and have your child do the guessing.
Make a recipe with your child. Give her the measuring cups, measuring spoons, and bowls and read her the recipe while she does the work. An easy — and delicious — way to introduce concepts such as volume, weight, and fractions.