Most parents have lots of outdoor activities planned for the summer to keep their kids active. But what about the "brain drain?" Studies estimate that students lose two months of math skills over the summer, and if your child is a reluctant reader, getting them back into the swing of school can be painful for you both.
Luckily, there are plenty of activities and nifty products to keep your kid's brain from melting in the summer heat.
Fat Brain Toy Co., ages 6+
Younger kids who like puzzles and older teens facing geometry class will love this toy. These 24 interlocking "geometry turtles" snap together in more than 100 different ways. It comes with a book of puzzles that are sure to jumpstart math skills. Reptangles teaches kids to visualize the shapes they construct and to rotate them in their mind as they build. Plus, they learn what truncated octahedrons or lesser rhombicuboctahedrons look like -- so there's a bit of a spelling challenge too.
Lots of adults -- more than 20 million -- have already discovered fantasy sports, but summer is a great time for kids to join a league and draft a team. This requires researching averages, problem solving, using statistics and crunching numbers. Participants follow their team throughout the season. To get your kid started, you could grab one of the many magazines that list players' vital stats, and there are free leagues online.
$2.99, ages 12+, Available on iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch
Secret Ada is an iPad or iPhone app created by a dad for his tween daughter. He wanted to spread the message that math, science and technology are not just for boys -- which is unfortunately a message that a lot of girls get. So not only do kids have to use statistics and logic to decode the cryptograms, breaking the code unlocks the biography of a famous woman scientist or mathematician.
Web Extra Pick: Math Gear Fast Facts
Innovative Kids, ages 7+
These are flash cards all dressed up. Easily totable, these fast fact sets allow kids to quiz themselves on basic multiplication and division by sliding new equations (and their hidden answers) into place along a disc.
Web Takeaway Math Tricks
Incorporate math into chores and travel: For example, calculate how much chlorine needs to go in the pool given the pool's volume or calculate the mileage and estimated travel time of your upcoming trip.
Cooking requires lots of math skills -- fractions, proportions, measurements and counting how many cookies you can eat in an hour.
Secret Science Team Kits
Ectropy, ages 9-12
These kits allow kids to become miniature CSI analysts by combining chemistry and problem-solving with good old-fashioned pretend play. Each kit comes with a case file and the tools to solve a mystery. For example, in one kit, a bike has been stolen and your child has to test to see if the crime scene sample that's provided is red paint or blood. Once your scientist-in-training has analyzed the evidence, he or she can go online to see if the case was successfully cracked.
Heavenly Hair Kit
GiddyUp, ages 8+