Holiday Maths

So, the children are on holiday from school and, as a parent, you are keen to keep at least some of what they learnt last year working in their brains. What to do?

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Some parents like the idea of buying workbooks or printing out work sheets and every week sitting your child down and doing some work. As a teacher, my recommendation is not to do the above but to do what I would call incidental maths. Children are on holiday from school to have a break from work and to let everything they have learnt sink in and be processed. So, sitting them down and working through books doesn't give children the break they need. However, doing some incidental maths can keep those skills consolidating and give your child a break from the more formal work. It also teaches them that learning can be fun and takes the pressure off both of you having to sit and do school work when 'everyone else is having fun!!'

What is incidental maths? Incidental maths is maths that you can make happen as you go about your every day life. For example, you may be sitting at the dinner table and everyone has a drink. As you're eating dinner why don't you ask a few questions about the drinks? How much water do you think is in your glass? Why? So, if you put all our glasses together how much water do you think we'd have altogether? If I drank half my water, how much would I have left?

This is quite a difficult thing to describe as every child is at a different level and every child's day is different. As a parent it is your chance to really have some fun with the maths and just let it happen within the day, without it being a big thing. You will just have to grab the opportunities and make them work for you and your child.

Below I have described some of the more obvious scenarios that could happen to most of us to get you going and inspire you to do more. I have tended towards the higher level of student as sometimes it is harder to think of more challenging activities. I hope those of you with younger children can find ways to make the suggestions simpler. I would love to hear some of the things that you do end up doing as your incidental maths.
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Number work
Traveling - It was this many miles from a to b and then we did this many miles, how many have we traveled in total? We are traveling at 60 mph and have 6 miles left to do, how long will it take us? The journey is x miles long, how long will it take us to complete traveling at 60mph?
Car registration plates - how many different numbers can you create with what you see. Write down the next 6 plates you see and use the digits to create the biggest number you can or the smallest. can you take the smallest away from the biggest? Or add all 6 numbers together, or find the smallest of the six and take it away from the biggest of the six.
Numbered lamp posts, bollards etc. - Have you seen anything on a local walk with numbers that you can add, take away, multiply, spot the pattern in?
House numbers - add them, take them away, swap the numbers around to make the biggest / smallest etc.

Measure / Capacity
Drinking - how much liquid have you drunk today, let's keep a record and add it up? How much is everyone drinking at the table? How much is left if two of us drink everything in our glasses? How much wine is Mummy drinking? What is the capacity of her glass?
Water Play - mine have a tea set they play with in the bath so more questions about how many cups would fill the teapot? or the pan? How many spoonfuls fill the cup? How many cups fill the bucket? How much water does it take to water the plants, how can you work it out?
Suitcases - how big is my suitcase? Does it follow the airlines regulations? If not, by how much is it out? Whose suitcase is the biggest? Heaviest? What makes it the heaviest?

Foreign Currencies - what is the exchange rate? How does it work? So, how much will you get in the local currency if you exchange 10 pounds / dollars? When shopping encourage your child to spend their money and either just count it out or work out how much it is costing them in English / American money using the exchange rate. They could also add up how much you are spending as you go around the store, or they could add up by rounding up or down each item so they have an estimate of how much your shopping will cost. Alternatively you could give them 10 pounds / dollars and ask them to get the food for dinner with that money, adding up as they go as they can not over spend.

Shape work
Shape spotting - what shapes can you see? Do they fit together? Why do you think it is that particular shape?

Time work
Day to day - we are leaving in 10 minutes, so when the big hand gets to........ Lunch will be at 12:30, can you tell me when it is that time? If it takes 45 minutes to get to Denver and it's 9:30 now, what time will we get to Denver?
Calendar - Have a calendar displayed with the monthly activities on so you can discuss how many days until........,  how many weeks until........, when you are next going swimming.

Data Handling
Long journeys - give them a piece of paper and a pencil, can you record how many different coloured cars you can see in the next 5 minutes? How many different kinds of animals can you see in the next 30 minutes? Can you now sort what you have seen and tell me which animal was the most common, least common etc.?
Holiday - Record what we do each day on holiday and then create a table showing how many shops we went into, how many times we went swimming, how many museums we visited, how many restaurants we went to?

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