Hands-on Math Activities for Summer

By Keren Perles

Whether you are nearing the end of the school year or teaching summer school math classes, your students probably seem bored before class even begins. These hands-on math activities are the perfect solution.

Graphing Temperatures

Graph Temps: Summer Math Summer is a great time to teach kids all sorts of math concepts using hands-on summer math activities. You can give students practice in graphing by showing them how to graph daily temperatures.

Although they can take the temperature data from a weather website or a newspaper, they can also use their own thermometers to monitor the temperature daily. A line graph will show how the temperature changes from day to day.

You can also use this data to show them the use of average (What was the average temperature this week?), maximum and minimum (What was the highest temperature this summer?) and median.

More advanced students can graph both the daily temperature and the daily rainfall, or any other measurement they think may relate to temperature. Challenge them to find a way to tell if the two relate using either the graph or a mathematical equation.

Ice Cream Remainder Demonstration

Students who are just learning about division may have some difficulty understanding the meaning of the word "remainder." Even once they can divide a number by another and say that the answer is "two remainder three," they may have no idea what they are saying.

To demonstrate this concept, bring in a tub of ice cream on a hot summer day. Use an ice cream scoop to put individual scoops into small bowls. Students should then count the bowls and try to figure out how many scoops each student should get. (Make sure that the number of scoops is not divisible by the number of students.) If the answer is, for example, "two remainder three," you can distribute the scoops to show that each student receives two scoops, but there are still three left over.

Water and Volume

Water play can be a lot of fun in the hot days of summer, so you may want to consider summer math activities that use plenty of water.

Ask students to collect milk and juice containers of different sizes for several weeks before this activity. Wash the bottles thoroughly with warm water and soap and label them with their volumes (e.g., "one gallon," "one quart," "36 ounces," "2 liters").

Bring a large tub of water outside (or use a hose, if one is accessible) and show students how to fill their containers with water. They can then use the containers to show the differences between the volume of the containers. For example, they might discover that there are four quarts in a gallon by pouring a full gallon container into four-quart containers.

These summer math activities will be a great hit with the kids, and they will learn the math concepts easily in a fun and hands-on way!