My STEM Units

Monday, May 19, 2014

STEAMing Ahead to Stop the Summer Slide: Math

Summer slide is the phenomenon where students lose concepts learned the prior year.  Experts have estimated that teachers spend over one month reteaching those concepts when school does resume.  Summer slide has also been targeted as a major cause of achievement gap in students. (click on the infographic to the right)

Believe it or not, school will be out in a few short weeks.  Parents and teachers need to have a plan to help prevent summer slide.  Join me in the month of May as I share ideas for parents and teachers to minimize loss and maybe even promote growth! 

An article from RIFAccording to the authors of a report from the National Summer Learning Association: "A conservative estimate of lost instructional time is approximately two months or roughly 22 percent of the school year.... It's common for teachers to spend at least a month re-teaching material that students have forgotten over the summer. That month of re-teaching eliminates a month that could have been spent on teaching new information and skills."


There are many ways to work on math skills at home.  Playing games is probably my favorite.  Never boring, usually loud, mostly funny, sometimes messy and always engaging. You most likely already have the supplies needed and can get started today!

1.  Card Games:  There are as many card games as there are skill levels.  If your child is young, you may want to play Quick Draw.  Deal out the cards to the two players.  One player calls "draw!" and the two players flip over their top card.  Both players add the numbers shown in their head.  The first player to shout out the correct sum keeps both cards.  Play continues until all cards have been played.  The winner is the player with the most cards.

This game can be changed ever so slightly to work on subtraction.  Or multiplication.  Whatever level your child is on right now, they can do this with cards.  There are many great resources online.  Making Math More Fun is an 89 page eBook with 41 card games for all levels, plus cards to print out.  (Click here to see the book)

If you don't have a deck of cards, you can print them from the book mentioned above.  Dollar stores usually have decks for $1.  If you live near a casino, you can get used decks for free.  Casinos have to change out their decks periodically to prevent cheating.  The decks just pile up to be thrown away.  If you go in and ask at the cashiers booth, they will more than likely give you a handful.  I have done this every year for my classroom and have received over 100 decks of cards, for free.

2.  Dice Games:  There are just as many dice games as there are card games.  Do a simple Google or Pinterest search using "dice games for students" and you will find hundreds.

One of my boys' favorite dice games was Two Dice Toss.  You can use a pre-printed graph or make your own.  You will also need something to write with (mine preferred crayons) and two dice.  Player 1 rolls both dice and adds them up.  They color in a box on the graph with the same sum.  For instance, if they rolled a 2 and a 5, they would color in a box on the 7.  Play continues until one sum reaches the top of the graph first.  Or until your food arrives at the restaurant.  (My boys used to love this game so much, I put two dice in my purse and we played at restaurants while waiting for our food)

A great online resource for dice games is  They have games for one dice, two dice, dominoes, and coins.

3.  Reading about Math:  If you want to double-dip and encourage Reading along with Math, there are great books at your local library.  One website has organized picture books by Math concept, so you can select specific books to enrich concepts worked on.  (click here for the list)

4.  Math Programs on the Computer:  There are many apps that work on Math skills.  My boys are particularly fond of Math vs. Zombies.  Whatever works, right?  But, this summer, you can use a customized Math program for free.  You login and sign up your children.  You can select a custom program based on a 20 question test or a program based on grade level.  You can also select a personalized prize (trip to the movies, ice cream, etc.).  After your child takes the initial assessment, the program uses data analytics to customize the lessons your child needs to work on.  Kids can earn access to video games by completing 6 lessons.  They are rewarded throughout the summer to level up and earn more access to games.  And once again, it's free.  (click here to go to TenMarks)

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