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Liberated Learning During Quarantine: Math Strategies

Hello again! We hope that our last post on reading strategies was helpful to you and your family. Due to the popularity of that post, we decided to go ahead and share some tips to help make math more memorable and fun.

Now that we are a few weeks into this new normal, you as a parent or caregiver have probably come up with your own ways of making at-home learning more enjoyable. As a certified early childhood educator, I have put together just a few tips that you can add to your educational toolbox.

These math activities can be used in conjunction with or in addition to current school work. These activities work best for grades 1st - 3rd and could easily be modified for younger and older children.


Math activities for kids

Get Outside: Let your kids use sidewalk chalk to do their math work. If they need paper copies as well, have them work out the math on the sidewalk and then copy it to their assignment sheet. Writing it twice is good for long-term memory! (If you don't have sidewalk chalk, you could also use watercolors or markers on paper - these activities can work inside, too!)

Summertime Snowball 'Fight': This works best if you have more than one child, but if there is an adult willing to play along, it can certainly work for an only child, too! Snowball is a math game that includes crumpling up paper to look like a snowball, and then (gently) underarm tossing it into the air. Ground rules are VERY important here, as we all know that allowing a child to "throw" anything can quickly get out of hand.

The steps for snowball are as follows:

  1. To play snowball, have your children (or your child and yourself) solve 3 - 5 problems on one sheet of paper each.

  2. Once those problems are solved, each participant crumples up their paper into a (snow) ball.

  3. Once each participant has their snowball ready, everyone can gently underhand toss their snowball into the air.

  4. After the papers have been tossed, each participant grabs a snowball from the ground (ideally, not their original).

  5. This new paper will then be smoothed out and used for the next 3-5 problems. The process then starts over again, and the snowball "fight" continues!

Musical Math: For this activity, you will need 5-10 pieces of paper (or more if there are multiple children), a writing utensil for each player and a white board or a screen to display math problems. Musical math is played much like musical chairs, so you will certainly need music and someone to press start/stop. This is a game that can be played with multiple children and an adult or one child and one adult.

The steps for musical math are as follows:

  1. Spread the 5-10 sheets of paper out in a circular fashion on a floor or on a variety of writing areas in a room (coffee, table, couch, dining room table, etc.). This should look similar to the way chairs would be set up for a round for musical chairs.

  2. Have your child/children pick one paper in one area to start (make sure they have their writing utensil).

  3. You will then use the white board or screen to display a math problem that the participants will then solve on their current sheet of paper.

  4. Once the children have solved the math problem, they will give you a thumbs up.

  5. You will then start the music and the children will SLOWLY (no running) rotate around the papers (with their writing utensils) until you press STOP. They must then freeze at the paper closest to them.

  6. The process then repeats from step number 3. This continues until all problems are solved or until you all get tired ;)

Four Corners: This activity uses the space of one room, one child and one adult (or older child). Math fact flashcards, a white board, or just simply the brain of an adult/child can be used for this game. The adult will ask the child a math fact (or write it on a white board or use a flash card) and ask the child to step into the corner with the correct answer. For example: "What is 1 + 7? If the answer is 9, go to this corner (point to whichever corner). If the answer is 8, go to this corner (point to the opposite corner)." Once the child chooses a corner, the adult will let the child know if their answer choice was correct or incorrect. If the child gets the answer incorrect, allow them to use fingers, objects or pencil/paper to work the problem out. The child can also use these materials during the game, should they not be ready for "mental math."This game gets really interesting when playing with more than one child! These corners could easily become yes/no corners, odd/even corners, fact/fiction corners, etc. The combinations are truly endless!

Roll the Dice: If you have at least two dice in your home, this activity is perfect for you (and requires no supervision on your part)! Supply your child with a sheet of paper, a pencil and the dice (can be more than two for older kiddos!). Have your child roll the dice and write down the numbers they see into an equation (addition, subtraction, or multiplication) and solve! For example: After rolling, one die may show 5 and the other may show 3. If your child is doing addition, then they will write 5 + 3 = ... and then solve. This could also work for greater than/less than or even/odd numbers! If your child is still learning their numbers, this is still a great exercise for them. Instead of having them write out equations, they can roll the dice, count the dots on them and write down their sum!

While these activities are labeled for math, they can easily be altered for a variety of subjects. Please feel free to be creative and make these ideas your own!

As with the previous post, I want to remind you to give your child (and yourself) brain breaks during learning. Brain breaks can be used at any time of the day and as many times as needed. In the last post, I shared my love for Go Noodle and how it's great for children of all ages. Another brain break activity that I and my students always enjoyed is Cosmic Kids Yoga. These videos are FREE, easy to follow and very engaging for a variety of age groups (and even a good stress reliever for adults).

If you have any questions regarding these activities or need help modifying them for the needs of your family, please leave a comment below and I will do my best to help. Happy learning!


The activities listed above are from my personal classroom experience. While these are my own ideas, I recognize that other educators may have similar, if not the same ideas. These tips are not meant to copyright any other educator, nor are they meant to replace the school work assigned by any teachers.

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