Nothing says laid-back summer fun quite like a day spent splashing around in the waves or making them with cannon balls. Laid-back doesn’t mean you can’t add a little learning into the mix though! Here are 5 fun math-friendly twists on classic games that can be enjoyed at the beach or by the pool.
We’ve all made sand castles before, but what about counting castles? The idea is the same: pack shovel loads of sand into a bucket, then flip it into a castle. Count the shovel loads that go into each bucket and write the total next to the castle. As you build your village, you can ask, “How many shovels are in those two castles combined? How about these other two?” You can also propose multiplication or division problems, too. Bonus points if you can use different sized buckets or scooping tools to create a challenging variety.
Red light, green light with a beach twist. The “It” person has to answer an addition or subtraction problem before turning around to catch moving creepers. For example, mom would ask the “It” kid, “Green light: 3 + 3 = ?” Meanwhile, other players on mom’s side would creep closer to the ocean. The “It” kid would answer, “Six! Red light!” and turnaround to catch the creepers. The first creeper to the ocean wins, and the last is a flounder! If you’re playing with older kids, you can mix up the math problems with multiplication and division—try using fractions for a challenge!
Write numbers on 25-30 ping pong balls and 8 full water bottles. Throw them all into the pool and the balls will float while the bottles sink. Now, everyone, see how many points you can collect in a 3-minute period. Shake things up by throwing a few multiplication symbols into the mix instead of numbers on the balls and bottles. If a player gets a ball or bottle with a multiplication symbol on it, they’ll need to stop counting their stash and multiply the sum of the first set of items with the second set they’ll count next. Pro tip: Play with a small group to avoid any injury during the rush to collect as many balls and bottles as possible.
Start in the shallow end of the pool and get everyone pushing the water in one direction, creating a whirlpool effect. Then, count how long you can float before you slow to a stop. If learning a second language is part of your kid’s education, challenge them to count in the language they’re studying!
Grab some sidewalk chalk or painter’s tape and make a hopscotch pattern leading up to the edge of the pool. Now, you’re ready to play hopscotch as usual, counting and all, except you can jump in the pool at the end!
If the weather is too hot to handle and keeps you indoors, don’t worry, you can play a bunch of games indoors to keep your child’s mind engaged in math, too.