Math Day

It is summer! We’re going to the beach as often as we can and spending our days outside as much as possible.

But I’m also hosting a math day once a month. It give me a chance to try out some fun math activities. And it helps my homeschooling friends fight the dreaded summer slide. Want to host one of your own? Here are some tips:

  1. Pick a theme. One concept is a good idea. I’m targeting first graders so in June we did addition and July we did subtraction.

2. Keep it light! It’s summer…no boring worksheets allowed. I’m using my own materials but you can find a ton of stuff on Pinterest. We played games, completed math fact coloring sheets, and always used edible manipulatives. Which brings me to my next point…

3. Snacks are a must ūüôā Snap cubes are fun but Skittles are better. And if you want to avoid the sugar rush go with Goldfish crackers or pretzels.

In the end, I think the key to the success is friends. Getting to try out these activities with their friends was the main motivation. And if you’re like me that means a mix of ages (see the group photo above). I had the older kids work as helper and the younger kids thought it was a blast too. Granted they didn’t understand the subtraction…just the Skittles.

More on Math Day favorites soon…


Roll a Sum

This game is incredibly simple. But I was shocked, it was a huge success at my most recent Math Day. It might have been their favorite activity. It is a way to practice addition facts and is suited for k-2.

Start by making a game board that looks like this:

  1. Roll the dice. Count up all the dots. Cross out that number on your side.
  2. Player two rolls.
  3. If you roll a number that is already crossed out your turn is over.
  4. First player to cross out all their numbers wins!

It is exciting because it gets really challenging to roll those last couple of sums. As a challenge I asked some of the older kids in the group which sums were the easiest to roll…and why?

Also, I noticed that as we played the kids were starting to shift from counting up the dots to just doing the addition in their heads. Great!

Try it out and let me know how it goes.


Kool-Aid Playdough

I saw this recipe on Pinterest but I wondered what all the fuss was about. Basically it just looked like they were using Kool-Aid instead of food coloring. But then I tried it with my 3 year old…it is amazing. The color is really cool and you can buy lots of Kool-Aid mixes for cheap and make a whole rainbow. Also, it smells delicious.

Here’s the recipe taken from the Kraft foods webpage.

  • My son is in charge of dumping in all the ingredients and mixing.


A magical moment was when we added the water. All of a sudden the color really pops. Even I went “oh wow!”

It’ll be soupy and you’ll be wondering if you did something wrong.

Heat it on the stove until it bubbles and you can feel it thickening.

Turn off the heat and go read a book.

Return to find your wonderful playdough!

Let it cool and start creating. We used it to make some minion hair. It isn’t a full day of preschool if we haven’t incorporated minions.

Math Dice Jr.

I found this game at Target today. Very simple and super easy to bring along on vacation or to a restaurant. The dodecahedron (yes I just really wanted to use that word) tells you what sum or different you are trying to find. Use addition, subtraction, and the numbers on the other 5 dice to get that number.

I think the best feature of this game is that it gets your ready for Math Dice. This version is for 8 and up and adds a lot more complexity.

Number Collage and Scavenger Hunt

My son and I did this project today and we had a lot of fun. More importantly it provided a great opportunity to connect numerals to the amounts they represent. It’d be a great end of year activity for a Kindergarten student or a beginning of the year review for a first grader. It focuses on number recognition and spotting the numbers 1 to 10 in the world around us.

Materials: Poster, markers, straight edge, scissors, magazines or a Smartphone and printer (we don’t really have magazines so I used my Smartphone and printed the photos inexpensively¬†at CVS), flyers from grocery stores or other stores

For the first part of the project you are going to be going on a scavenger hunt. You need to find the numerals 1 to 10 and examples of those numbers. We used a clipboard to keep track.

I’ve done number scavenger hunts before and it is definitely a lot more fun (and easier!) if you leave the house. We found all of our numbers just by taking a quick walk around the block. But it would also be really fun at the grocery store or library. Somewhere with lots of signs and prices will make it easier. You can also just pull out a pile of magazines and catalogs and look for numbers there.

Here are some of the numerals* we spotted on our street.

Brownie points if you notice the Disney Pixar character who made it into our collage‚ÄĒmy son was thrilled. Now to find some real life occurrences of these numbers. The best examples are the ones that occur naturally: four chairs at a table, five siblings in a family, etc.. However, if your child gets really stuck finding seven of something I won’t judge you for putting seven M&M’s in a bowl and calling it a day.


We printed all of our photos at CVS and cut them out. My son was so excited to see his toys and our neighborhood in the photos. That is one advantage of using the Smartphone over the magazines, it gives kids more ownership over the collage.

Divide the poster into ten sections and have your child carefully label them with the right number. Paste all of your numerals and examples down. We hung out finished project in the school room so we can reference it in the future.

It’s a bit messy looking but the important thing is all the conversations we had about numbers as we put it together.

*We completely ignored place value in our hunt for numbers because we haven’t learned that yet. So for the sake of this activity a 9’s digit counted whether it was in the tens or ones column. Otherwise I think it would be really hard to find all of the numbers.

Number Recognition Matching Activity: Free Printable

This activity is ideal for kindergarten or first grade. It allows students to start matching the symbols for numbers with number words and ten frames. This activity is a great wrap up after you’ve spent some time practicing numbers with counters or snap cubes.

Identifying Numbers Matching Activity

Cut out the squares on the first two pages and mix them up. Then sort them appropriately and tape them down on the provided table.

Find Your Family: A Game for Related Facts

Related facts are groups of facts that show kids how different numbers are connected. Some programs call them fact families. These fact families are important because they help kids see the connection between addition and subtraction.

A “fact family house” is when you organize all of these related numbers nicely under one roof.

For this game each child receives a game board with six incomplete houses. A house might look something like this.

Each player takes a turn rolling a die. Looking at their six houses they decide if the number on the die can add to or complete any of their fact families. Every game board is different and there is some strategy involved. You might be able to put a number in two different places and certain numbers are easier to place than others.

To win you have to fill all of your houses before your opponent.

This game could have many variations. The first one that comes to mind for me is making all the families ways to make ten. Or you could only use the numbers 1 thru 6 to make it easier for younger children. I created a blank game board too so that you can try out a variation.¬†Write in your own numbers to tailor it to your child’s needs.

Have fun! And as always let me know if you have any thoughts or suggestions.

Find Your Family (Blank Game Board)

Find Your Family Game Board (Facts up to 9)


The Game of NIM

Do you have a pile of pennies or beans somewhere? And a child who loves to play games? Then you have everything you need to play NIM.

The game is ancient and there are many different variations. The beauty of it is with a little math you can figure out how to win every time. What I love is that by changing the number of pennies you can make the game age-appropriate for different children. Try playing as a family.

What You Will Need:

15 pennies

2 players

How to Play:

  1. Place 15 pennies between the two players and decide who will go first.
  2. Player one must remove one, two, or three pennies. They decide how many and they cannot choose to skip their turn.
  3. After player one, player two decides to remove one, two, or three pennies and so on.
  4. The object of the game is to be the player who removes the last penny (in some versions this rule is the other way around).

Play several times and see if your kids notice any patterns. Now it is time for some mathematical thinking. Can you generalize any patterns that you notice? Try changing the number of pennies or changing who gets to go first. How does that affect your strategy?

What if you change the rules and each player can pick only one or two pennies? How would that change the outcome?

The goal is to start a good discussion about the strategy. And students are motivated because the more they discover the more unbeatable they become!

New Self-Paced Option for SAT Math Prep

Since the launch of the New SAT I’ve taught 6 sections of SAT Math. I love teaching the class and meeting so many wonderful students. One thing that I’ve learned is that my students are very busy. Sometimes carving out time to study for the SATs or to add one more live class is challenging.

With that in mind I created a self-paced version of the course. This 14-week self-paced SAT Math Prep course is a great option for the highly motivated or exceptionally busy student. At the beginning of the course students can opt for a 7-week or 14-week study plan. The study plan is also developed based on their goal score and how much time they have allocated to studying. Study plans are broken down into manageable chunks and help students study consistently.

All of the materials referenced on the study plan are provided on the course website or are available for free at Time will be spent reviewing the over 30 instructional videos I created as well as practicing problems daily. There are also automated quizzes that serve as checkpoints during the course. By the end of the course students will be familiar with the testing format and will have reviewed the fundamental concepts in Algebra 1, Algebra II, geometry, and trigonometry.

For complete details or to register for the summer 2017 session click here.