I have one very active child. He would much rather be outside running or kicking a ball then inside with pen and paper. So, as he started school, we had to come up with ways to make his learning journey appealing by incorporating a physical aspect into his learning.
I’m a firm believer in playing to your child’s strengths and understanding HOW your child learns – all kids have natural learning styles and preferences. So if, like me, you have a very physically active child, you might like some of these activity ideas for incorporating a ‘physical challenge’ into maths work. Next week, we’ll give you some ideas for English activities.
Chalk lines and charts
Using chalk to draw either a number line or a number grid (depending on the space you have available). You can then ask your child to use another colour to mark out skip counting – put a mark in each square/line for each sequence. For example, use red for counting by 2s, blue for counting by 3s, etc.
If you’ve drawn out a big grid, you could get out counters and dice to roll a life-size game of ‘off the grid’. You could use pebbles as counters. This is how we play it:
- Choose your starting point, anywhere between 40 and 70 on a 100s chart.
- Roll a six-sided die.
- If you roll an even number, use addition.
- If you roll an odd number use subtraction.
- Then roll a 12-sided die and either add or subtract the number rolled from your starting point and move your counter accordingly.
So, if you started on 45 and rolled a 2 on the 6-sided die and a 5 on the 12-sided die, you would add 5 and you would move to 50 on the 100s chart. Or, if you rolled a 3 and a 7, you would subtract 7 and move to 38 on the 100s chart. It sounds complicated, but once you start you’ll soon get the hang of it.
- Take it in turns to keep rolling and moving your counter.
- The winner is the first person to move off the grid – either below zero, or beyond 100.
Timing running races
If you have a child who loves running, head to the local park or athletics track and set up a start and finish line. Use a stop watch or mobile phone timer to keep a record of each run. Try different distances. Bring down a recording chart with you – this can be as simple as a page you’ve ruled up with columns for ‘distance’ and ‘time’, or you could print up something a little fancier on your PC – older kids love creating their own charts with graphics. After the times are recorded, ask your child to work out the difference between times and put their ‘races’ in order of fastest time to slowest time. This can be great with multiple kids, running relay races, too.
Times tables twister
We have a very popular game of ‘Times Tables Bingo’ in our online store. If you have kids who prefer to learn in a physical way, you can turn this into ‘Times Tables Twister’. Here’s how to get started:
Firstly, decide which times tables you want to include. Write out the multiplication equations you are going to call out, then write each answer on a separate A4 sheet of paper.
Make your Twister ‘mat’ from the A4 pages – each with a different number answer. A 4 x 5 mat made up of 20 pages is probably the most manageable for smaller kids. It is more fun if you can fit duplicates of some of the answers, so there are a few options for players.
If you have a Twister game at home, you could use the spinner to allocate right foot/left foot etc, or you could have a bag for the ‘Caller’ to lucky dip out the options: left foot, right foot, left hand, right hand.
Have the ‘Caller’ call out equations in random order. The players call out the answer. The Caller then lucky dips a direction and the players try to get to the correct answer. The winner is the last person left standing.
A variation on this is a life-size times tables bingo. This is a bit of set-up, creating bingo boards with printed paper or chalk on concrete. You could use pebbles as counters.
Line up a series of baskets – washing baskets, plastic pots, even bowls would work. Label them with numbers (1-10 for early years, larger numbers for older years) and ask your child to throw a ball into two of the baskets.
Make up a ‘lucky dip bag’ of operations (+ – x ÷) –Ask your child to lucky dip an operation. Or you could just choose one, depending on what area you’d like to focus on.
Then, have your child write down the two numbers, plus the operation, an answer their equation.
Create your ‘dream team’
There’s so many programs now available to create your virtual ‘dream team’ from footy or soccer. This can actually be quite a good activity for you to help your older primary school child through, as they work out their team budget and record scores and percentages. Just wait until they get into trading players! You can decide to subscribe to one of the established competitions, or you can create your own family competition. So: let’s say you’re a keen fan of Aussie Rules, print out a team list for each club and have each member of the family ‘pick’ their own team of players.
Then, look up the stats each of your players achieve each week and allocate points for things like possessions, tackles, goals, etc to give your ‘dream team’ a weekly score. Create a ‘dream team’ ladder for your family, based on the weekly score.
You might want to nominate a couple of trading rounds, to keep things interesting.
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