Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Are you looking for ways to maintain your children’s natural interest in math over the summer break? Here are some books that you might consider to “strew” for your children over the summer break.
Which math books are the best?
This post has been modified in June 2015 with new graphics. I have also added my opinions about math books we tried over years. Disclosure: I am an Amazon associate and this post contains affiliate links. For full disclosure, please click here and thank you for supporting my blog!

Our Summer Plans


Summer has officially started last week. We were all looking to the summer break, especially to the opportunity for Smarty and my husband to sleep in. She is happy to start her day summer camp at Y. While many parents in our area choose academic camps for their kids, we decided that she will benefit more from a “normal” program of games, sports, crafts and field trips while doing a bit of math at home. Summer math is done at home in about 5-15 minutes a day – well, longer, if you count computer games in.

Summer Math BooksBest Supplemental Books for Gifted Learners

We have a neat little store close to my workplace that sells educational books to their target audience of predominantly Asian parents and teachers. I love going there and browsing the titles. I realized over time that content of the book is a lot more important than its flashy titles. I was not impressed by Critical & Creative Thinking Activities Series, Kumon Summer Review & Prep, and Summer Activities for the Gifted Student? Why? Because all these books try very hard to stay with the grade material while most gifted learners are asynchronous. There is too much of normal worksheet type work and not enough depth or thinking outside of the box. In other words, many math apps and websites will do a better job than these three series. However, here are the titles that we genuinely enjoyed:
primary grade challenge math
Primary Grade Challenge Math rises to its name – the math is challenging but still “doable” for kids who enjoy math. Each section first has an explanation on how to solve that kind of problem and then several levels, so kids can choose their difficulty level. Also, the book starts with fairly easy second-third grade topic and gently introduces more advanced concepts, so you can start or end at whatever level your child is at the moment. If you would select one book for “challenge” math, I’d definitely pick this one!
Mind Benders
Smarty absolutely loves Mind Benders: Deductive Thinking Skills book. It’s a book of logical word puzzles that are solved by analyzing verbal clues. The book says, “grades 3-6”, but we are half through it, and it’s mind boggling even to me how quickly and independently she solves those logic challenges. Often she cracks the puzzle while I am still working through clues in my own head. She begs for those puzzles before bed as “the last workout for my brain”.

Singapore Challenge Math

I really wish our school district used Singapore Math curriculum as I find it most similar to the one that we had in the former Soviet Union. Singapore Math Challenge is excellent at extending math beyond simple calculation through rules. The problems are mostly word problems, and they are constructed in such a way that the student really has to think on which rule or formula need to be applied before being able to arrive to an answer. Believe it or not, I learned some new math tricks looking into the solutions given in the end of the book. I brought the hammer of algebra to many of the problems while easier approaches were presented instead. Definitely worth a look for kids who are ready for that extra-extra challenge!

Other Math Activities for Summer

Shapes Up
Play Board Games! Smarty didn’t bring a “math packet” from school this summer, but instead the teacher gave everyone a list of math games with instructions to parents to play as many of them in the summer as possible. So far we already played Monopoly (alas, this is Smarty’s favorite), Set, Uno, Blokus, Quirkle, Chess, and Shapes Up. I am glad Smarty loves playing board games, since this is a great opportunity to bond and spend time as a family.

Your Turn

Is there any math happening in summer? What do you do to keep kids interested in learning?

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Kelly said...

These are such great ideas to have fun with math over the summer! I have a couple of workbooks and websites that I use with the kids to keep their skills up and teach new material too.
Kelly at Little Wonders' Days

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

It might be a little old for Anna, but my kids are really enjoying the Prof. Layton puzzle/mystery games for the DS.

Erica MomandKiddo said...

I bet my son would LOVE that Mind Benders book!

Cindy said...

Love the assortment of games you've played so far! :)

Ticia said...

Not too surprisingly games is high on our list of ways to make learning fun too :)

I actually had a request from one of the boys for some reading games again.

maryanne @ mama smiles said...

I do want to do some math learning over the summer. At the moment, Emma is busy with a music theory book I found for her.

Phyllis said...

She is an amazing little girl. Sometimes it seems more appropriate to say "young lady" instead of girl since she is so grown-up.

Christy Killoran said...

Fantastic! We play those games too.