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5 Low-Stress Math Activities to Combat Summer Slide

May 25, 2021 No Comments

Every school year as the summer approaches, I’ve had parents and guardians ask me for activities, workbooks, and tutor recommendations for their children. They’ve heard about the “summer slide” and want strategies to help their kids retain math and ELA skills over the summer.

While we want students to remember the content and skills they’ve worked hard to learn all year, we also want them to have some time off to play and explore non-school interests over the summer.

The good news is that we can find a balance by using review activities that are fun and low-stress for students, families, and educators. Check out some of my favorite summer math activities for upper elementary students!

Practice Math in the Real World

This is my #1 recommendation for math practice during the summer. We’re already using math in our everyday lives, so why not work smarter, not harder?

Here are some examples of mathematical thinking that might take place in the summertime:

  • road trip (mileage, elapsed time, money, budgeting)
  • lemonade stand (liquid capacity and measurement, counting money, making change)
  • gardening (measurement, geometry)
  • grocery shopping (operations, counting money, budgeting)
  • planning BBQs and other events (operations, money)
  • going to the pool (geometry, liquid capacity, temperature)
  • cooking (fractions, measurement, elapsed time)

Including kids in the process during these activities is an easy way to practice math in real-life situations. Summer school teachers can set up mock activities with just a few simple items.

Play Math Games

Another favorite way to fight the summer slide is to play math games. There are tons of games students can play with items that are already at home or easy to find at the dollar store. Playing cards, dice, counters, dominoes, and building blocks are just a few manipulatives kids can use at home to review math facts, place value, operations, probability, fractions, and more.

Board games like Monopoly, Rush Hour, Rummikub, and Qwirkle are also good ways to work in a little math practice.

Use Digital Math Review Activities

Having students complete digital math activities not only keeps them engaged, but also maintains their tech skills. Boom Cards are one of my favorite ways for students to review math content and skills all year long.

These FREE summer multiplication facts Boom cards are a great place to start.

There are tons of educational websites that have math games for every grade level and topic. You might also check with your school to see what subscriptions students have access to over the summer.

Try Math Packets

For many students, a traditional math worksheet is a preferred way to review. I think the secret during the summer is to do a little at a time – not a whole workbook at once. I like worksheets that include a fun summer theme and spiral review.

If you’re short on time, these math review packets support the Virginia Math SOLs:

3rd Grade Summer Math Review

4th Grade Summer Math Review

Read a Math Book

You know I can’t let a roundup post go by without including some picture books. Here are a few to start with:

The Grapes of Math by Greg Tang

The Greedy Triangle by Marilyn Burns

One Odd Day by Doris Fisher

Perimeter, Area, and Volume: A Monster Book of Dimensions by David A. Adler

The Doorbell Rang by Pat Hutchins

The Rabbit Problem by Emily Gravett

I hope this list helps you to get started with some easy summer math review activities for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students! What other suggestions do you have to keep math skills fresh and reduce learning loss over the summer?

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