Summer Math Activities for Elementary Students

What does a mathematician do?  Some people think that a mathematician only calculates in search of correct answers.  Some people think that a mathematician works fast.  Some people think that they couldn’t be a mathematician.  

At Valley Central, we know better.  

We know that mathematicians notice and wonder.  

Mathematicians think of questions and investigate the answers.  

Mathematicians use what they know to design and create.  

Mathematicians solve puzzles, take challenges, and play.  

 

Do you want to practice your amazing mathematician skills this summer?  Gather a team of mathematicians at your house, and choose from the following activities to do with your family.  Activities are organized into 4 categories – Notice & Wonder, Investigate, Design & Create, and Play.  Collect photos, diagrams, pictures, data charts, notes, etc. You might choose to keep a math journal with a record of what you do.  Make up new math activities inspired by those in this suggestion pack.  Have a wonderful summer of math!


For Mathematicians going into K-1st: 

Notice and wonder:

  • Guess how many Lego pieces (or another toy you have many of) are in your collection.  Count to see the actual amount.
  • Go on a 3D shape hunt in your house.  Take pictures of 3D shapes in your house.
  • Guess how many grapes are in a bunch or how many crackers are in a package.  Count to see.
  • The Sound of Numbers – Count a secret amount of something and put it in a container.  Shake the container for someone in your family.  Have them guess how many are in the container.  Change the container.  Change the amount.  Change the shaken item.  How does the sound change?  What clues do you use to guess the amount?
  • Go on a shape hunt out in nature.  What are the most common that you find?  Take some pictures of shapes out in the world.
  • Follow a recipe.  Notice and compare all the measurements you make while cooking.  
  • Take a photo of you and your family playing a game.  Make sure your picture shows the game board or some of the cards used, etc.  Share the picture with another family member or friend.  Ask them to notice and wonder about the outcome of your game.
  • Find math someplace you least expect it.  Take a photo and share it with nicole.sosler@vcsdny.org
  • Explore the garage, basement, or workshop with a family member.  What math is involved with building?  
  • Explore the website mathbeforebed.com Find an image and discuss it with your family. Try a different image tomorrow, and the next day, …

Investigate:

  • Count out 20 pieces of cereal.  How could you share the 20 pieces fairly with your family?  How many people would get some?  How many pieces would each person get?
  • Have everyone in your family write their first name.  How many letters are in each name?  Which name has the most letters?
  • Find 5 things outside.  Order them from longest to shortest.  Does your order change if you order them from lightest to heaviest?
  • Fill a measuring cup with various food items (grapes, chocolate chips, cereal pieces, etc.)  How many of each item make a cup?  Keep track of your investigation in an organized way.  What do you notice?  
  • Observe cars which pass by your house for a period of time.  How many of each color car did you see?  Keep track using tally marks.  Organize your findings in a graph or a chart.
  • How far can you throw, kick, or hit different balls?  Measure how far each attempt is.  Keep track of your findings in an organized way.  What do you notice?
  • Interview a family member to see how they use math during the day.
  • Create and carry out a survey.  Survey at least 20 of your friends and family.  Display your data in an organized way.  What conclusions can you draw?
  • Look for pennies in your house.  Ask your parents first about where you can look.  How many can you find?
  • Investigate what you can do in one minute.  Set a timer.  See how many times you can write your name, how many sit ups can you do, etc. 
    • Observe cars which pass by your house for a period of time.  How many of each color car did you see?  Organize your findings in a graph or a chart.
    • Find two books.  One from your shelf and one from your parent’s shelf.  What is the difference in the amount of pages of the two books?
    • Investigate what you can do in one minute.  Set a timer.  See how many times you can write your name, how many sit ups can you do, etc. 
    • Gather toys in your house that have a total of 30 legs.  How many different possibilities can you gather to equal 30 legs?  
    • Experiment with boxes.  Find out which boxes in your house will fit inside one another.  Use vocabulary like longer, shorter, wide, narrow, etc.  Can you find two boxes that have different dimensions but that can hold the same amount?
    • How many shoes will it take to completely cover a table with no gaps or overlaps?  Estimate first, then find the real answer.  Is it different if you use your flip flops and then your dad’s shoes?
    • Can you hop more on your right foot or left foot?  Try it. Can you bounce a ball more times with your right hand or left hand.  Try it.
    • How far can you throw, kick, or hit different balls?  Measure how far each attempt is.  Keep track of your findings in an organized way.  What do you notice?
    • Compare the food labels on two of your favorite snacks.  What do you notice?  Is one healthier than the other?  What is your mathematical evidence?
    • Interview a family member to see how they use math during the day.
    • Count out 36 pieces of cereal.  How could you share the 36 pieces fairly with your family?  How many people would get some?  How many pieces would each person get?
    • Look through a magazine or newspaper for numbers.  Can you find any even numbers that are greater than 500 but less than 1,000?
    • Imagine you have $100 to spend.  Look at catalogs or online store sites and decide what you will buy.
    • Choose 3 of your favorite t-shirts and 3 of your favorite shorts.  How many different outfits can you make with those items?  Make a diagram to show the outfits.
    • Find 5 things outside that are about the same size.  Now measure them.  Measure their length, their height, their weight.  What attributes are the same?  What are different?
    • Fill a measuring cup with various food items (grapes, chocolate chips, cereal pieces, etc.)  How many of each item make a cup?  Keep track of your investigation in an organized way.  What do you notice?  
    • Create and carry out a survey.  Survey at least 20 of your friends and family.  Display your data in more than one way.  What conclusions can you draw?
    • Find four books which when added together have a total of 100 pages.  Estimate how long it would take you to read all 100 pages.  Share your estimate with a  family member.  Now get reading!  

        Design and Create:

        • A box for a toy.  What are the dimensions of your box?
        • An angled track to make a toy car travel the farthest.
        • Block paper animals http://krokotak.com/2013/03/block-paper-animals/
        • Have a family tower building contest.  Use any materials your parents allow.  Who can build the largest tower?  How will you measure to prove it’s the largest?  What do you notice?
        • Research the measurements of real animals.  Use sidewalk chalk to draw the animals “actual size”.  Can you find a place to create an actual size drawing of a whale?  https://www.kcedventures.com/blog/whales-science-activities-life-in-the-sea Take a photo and share it!! 
        • Use coins to make an animal.  What is the value of your animal?  blog.connectionsacademy.com/creating-coin-creatures-to-practice-counting-money/ 
        • Draw a doubles picture.  (Ex. Two dogs each with four legs.)  Write the number sentence that goes with your picture.  Or collect toys to show doubles.  Take a photo.
        • Draw some circles, squares, and rectangles.  Partition them into halves and fourths. Cut out your pieces and make a picture.

        Play:

        • A favorite family game.  Discuss and compare each other’s strategies.
        • Yahtzee or another game with obvious math in it.
        • A game that you didn’t realize had math in it.
        • A visual-spatial game (Blockus, Connect Four, Set, Quirkle, Tetris, Blink, google “visual spatial games” for more ideas)
        • Tic Tac Toe.  Talk about your strategy for placing your X or O.
        • A game you learned in math class this year.
        • Ten Frame Mania, How Much How Many, NumTanga, Kakooma, or Math Limbo on gregtangmath.com

        Tami’s Tower on the Smithsonian Science Education Center website ssec.si.edu/tamis-tower

      • Gather toys in your house that have a total of 18 legs.  How many different possibilities can you gather to equal 18 legs?

        For Mathematicians going into 2nd-3rd: 

        Notice and wonder:

        • Go on a fraction hunt.  Find examples that show exactly halves or quarters.  Take pictures.
        • Follow a recipe.  Notice and compare all the measurements you make while cooking.  
        • Go on a polygon (shape) hunt out in nature.  What are the most common that you find?  Take some pictures of polygons (shapes) out in the world.
        • Find different measuring cups and spoons in the kitchen.  Order them from smallest to largest.
        • Take a photo of you and your family playing a game.  Make sure your picture shows the game board or some of the cards used, etc.  Share the picture with another family member or friend.  Ask them to notice and wonder about the outcome of your game.
        • Take a series of photos of different coin collections that all equal the same value.
        • Find math someplace you least expect it.  Take a photo to document it.
        • Write five things you did today.  Show the time you did each one with digital and analog times.
        • Explore the garage, basement, or workshop with a family member.  What math is involved with building?  
        • Guess how many Lego pieces (or another toy you have many of) are in your collection.  Count to see the actual amount.
        • Go on a 3D shape hunt in your house.  Take pictures of 3D shapes in your house.
        • Guess how many grapes are in a bunch or how many crackers are in a package.  Count to see.  How many would be in two bunches or two packages?
        • Explore the website mathbeforebed.com Find an image and discuss it with your family. Try a different image tomorrow, and the next day, …


        Investigate:

        • Observe cars which pass by your house for a period of time.  How many of each color car did you see?  Organize your findings in a graph or a chart.
        • Find two books.  One from your shelf and one from your parent’s shelf.  What is the difference in the amount of pages of the two books?
        • Investigate what you can do in one minute.  Set a timer.  See how many times you can write your name, how many sit ups can you do, etc. 
        • Gather toys in your house that have a total of 30 legs.  How many different possibilities can you gather to equal 30 legs?  
        • Experiment with boxes.  Find out which boxes in your house will fit inside one another.  Use vocabulary like longer, shorter, wide, narrow, etc.  Can you find two boxes that have different dimensions but that can hold the same amount?
        • How many shoes will it take to completely cover a table with no gaps or overlaps?  Estimate first, then find the real answer.  Is it different if you use your flip flops and then your dad’s shoes?
        • Can you hop more on your right foot or left foot?  Try it. Can you bounce a ball more times with your right hand or left hand.  Try it.
        • How far can you throw, kick, or hit different balls?  Measure how far each attempt is.  Keep track of your findings in an organized way.  What do you notice?
        • Compare the food labels on two of your favorite snacks.  What do you notice?  Is one healthier than the other?  What is your mathematical evidence?
        • Interview a family member to see how they use math during the day.
        • Count out 36 pieces of cereal.  How could you share the 36 pieces fairly with your family?  How many people would get some?  How many pieces would each person get?
        • Look through a magazine or newspaper for numbers.  Can you find any even numbers that are greater than 500 but less than 1,000?
        • Imagine you have $100 to spend.  Look at catalogs or online store sites and decide what you will buy.
        • Choose 3 of your favorite t-shirts and 3 of your favorite shorts.  How many different outfits can you make with those items?  Make a diagram to show the outfits.
        • Find 5 things outside that are about the same size.  Now measure them.  Measure their length, their height, their weight.  What attributes are the same?  What are different?
        • Fill a measuring cup with various food items (grapes, chocolate chips, cereal pieces, etc.)  How many of each item make a cup?  Keep track of your investigation in an organized way.  What do you notice?  
        • Create and carry out a survey.  Survey at least 20 of your friends and family.  Display your data in more than one way.  What conclusions can you draw?
        • Find four books which when added together have a total of 100 pages.  Estimate how long it would take you to read all 100 pages.  Share your estimate with a  family member.  Now get reading!  

         

        Design and Create:

        • A box for a toy.  What are the dimensions of your box?
        • An angled track to make a toy car travel the farthest.
        • Block paper animals http://krokotak.com/2013/03/block-paper-animals/
        • Have a family tower building contest.  Use any materials your parents allow.  Who can build the largest tower?  How will you measure to prove it’s the largest?  What do you notice?
        • Research the measurements of real animals.  Use sidewalk chalk to draw the animals “actual size”.  Can you find a place to create an actual size drawing of a whale?  https://www.kcedventures.com/blog/whales-science-activities-life-in-the-sea Take a photo and share it!! 
        • Use coins to make an animal.  What is the value of your animal?  blog.connectionsacademy.com/creating-coin-creatures-to-practice-counting-money/ 
        • Draw a doubles picture.  (Ex. Two dogs each with four legs.)  Write the number sentence that goes with your picture.  Or collect toys to show doubles.  Take a photo.
        • Draw some circles, squares, and rectangles.  Partition them into halves and fourths. Cut out your pieces and make a picture.

         

        Play:

        • A favorite family game.  Discuss and compare each other’s strategies.
        • Yahtzee or another game with obvious math in it.
        • A game that you didn’t realize had math in it.
        • A visual-spatial game (Blockus, Connect Four, Set, Quirkle, Tetris, Blink, google “visual spatial games” for more ideas)
        • Tic Tac Toe.  Talk about your strategy for placing your X or O.
        • A game you learned in math class this year.
        • Ten Frame Mania, How Much How Many, NumTanga, Kakooma, or Math Limbo on gregtangmath.com

        Tami’s Tower on the Smithsonian Science Education Center website ssec.si.edu/tamis-tower


      • For Mathematicians going into 4th-6th: 

        Notice and Wonder:

        • Go on an angle hunt.  Estimate the measure of each angle you find.  What do you notice?  Take pictures of some and label them with your estimates.
        • Go on a polygon hunt.  What are the most common that you find?  Take some pictures of polygons out in the world.
        • Go on a fraction hunt.  Fractional amounts can be found (the amount of your aunt’s birthday cake left after the party) or actual numeric fractions on signs or in stores.  Take pictures
        • Follow a recipe.  Notice and compare all the measurements you make while cooking.  What would happen if you needed to make half as much of the recipe?  What would you need to do to the recipe if you needed to cook enough to feed all the people on your street?
        • Take photos of symmetry in nature.
        • Take a photo of you and your family playing a game.  Make sure your picture shows the game board or some of the cards used, etc.  Share the picture with another family member or friend.  Ask them to notice and wonder about the outcome of your game.
        • Take a series of photos of different coin collections that all equal the same value.
        • Find math someplace you least expect it.  Take a photo and share it.
        • Take a picture of your dinner plate one night.   Describe your meal in fractions. (I hope your meal is half vegetables!)
        • Explore the garage, basement, or workshop with a family member.  What math is involved with building?  Can you find fractions?
        • Explore the website mathbeforebed.com Find an image and discuss it with your family.  How can you describe the image with fractions?


        Investigate:

        • Investigate how many wheels  are around your house or apartment.  Keep track of your data in an organized way.  Go to a parking lot with a parent.  How many wheels are in the parking lot?  How does it compare to the amount around where you live?
        • Estimate how many cups of water it will take to fill a container?  How many different fractional cups does it take to fill the same container?  Keep an organized chart.  What patterns do you see?
        • Measure and calculate the area of different rooms of your house.  What do you notice?
        • How far can you throw, kick, or hit different balls?  Measure how far each attempt is.  Keep track of your findings in an organized way.  What do you notice?
        • Compare the food labels on two of your favorite snacks.  What do you notice?  Is one healthier than the other?  What is your mathematical evidence?
        • Interview a family member to see how they use math during the day.
        • Use a grocery store flyer.  Figure out the cost of making your favorite meal for all the people who live in your house.
        • Find some boxes (cereal boxes, tissue boxes, shoe boxes, etc.) Predict and then determine which box has the greatest volume.
        • Imagine you have $100 to spend.  Look at a catalog or an online store site ad, and decide what you will buy.  Be sure to consider shipping and tax.
        • Find 5 things outside that are about the same size.  Now measure them.  Measure their length, their height, their weight.  What attributes are the same?  What attriburtes are different?
        • Gather five of your favorite t-shirts and 3 of your favorite shorts.  How many different outfits can you make with those items?  Draw a diagram showing your work.  Can you write an expression to find the amount of combinations?  What if you added your two best sweatshirts.  Now how many different outfits can you put together?
        • If you cut 6 granola bars into fourths, how many fourths would you have?  Try it and take a picture.  If you cut 8 granola bars into thirds, how does it compare?
        • Fill a measuring cup with various food items (grapes, chocolate chips, cereal pieces, etc.)  How many of each item make a cup?  Keep track of your investigation in an organized way.  What do you notice?  Estimate how many of each item would fill a half cup.  A quarter cup?
        • Create and carry out a survey.  Survey at least 20 of your friends and family.  Display your data in more than one way.  What conclusions can you draw?
        • Find four books which when added together have a total of exactly 1000 pages.  Estimate how long it would take you to read all 1000 pages.  Explain your estimate to a family member.  Now get reading!  🙂
        • Investigate how many hours each member of your family sleeps in a week.  Make a chart that compares that data.
        • Investigate what you can do in one minute.  Set a timer.  See how many times you can write your name, how many sit ups can you do, etc. Estimate how many of each you could do in 10 minutes.  What makes a reasonable estimate?
        • Gather toys in your house that have a total of 30 legs.  How many different possibilities can you gather to equal 30 legs?  Write expressions to show your combinations.
        • Experiment with boxes.  Find out which boxes in your house will fit inside one another.  Use vocabulary like longer, shorter, wide, narrow, etc.  Can you find two boxes that have different dimensions but that can hold the same amount?
        • Do a Google image search of the word mathematician.  What do you notice?  How would you change what you see?


        Design and Create:

        • A box for a toy.  What are the dimensions of your box?
        • An angled track to make a toy car travel the farthest.
        • Block paper animals http://krokotak.com/2013/03/block-paper-animals/
        • Have a family tower building contest.  Use any materials your parents allow.  Who can build the largest tower?  How will you measure to prove it’s the largest?  What do you notice?
        • Research the measurements of real animals.  Use sidewalk chalk to draw the animals “actual size”.  Can you find a place to create an actual size drawing of a whale?  https://www.kcedventures.com/blog/whales-science-activities-life-in-the-sea Take a photo and share it!!  


        Play:

        • A favorite family game.  Discuss and compare each other’s strategies.
        • Yahtzee or another game with obvious math in it.
        • A game that you didn’t realize had math in it.
        • A visual-spatial game (Blockus, Connect Four, Set, Quirkle, Tetris, Blink, google “visual spatial games” for more ideas)
        • A game you learned in math class this year.
        • NumTanga, Kakooma, Math Limbo, Ten Frame Mania, How Much How Many, or Coin Bubble  on gregtangmath.com