Fun and Free Resources to Connect Kids to Real World Math

Cool Online Ideas for Winter Break and More

Time away from math class during summer vacations can create a well-known phenomenon known as ‘summer slide’ that can result in a month or more of learning loss. During the winter recess, while the shorter time frame may not result in dramatic deficits, there may be some ramp-up time needed to refocus if holidays aren’t a time for learning, too.

That can be prevented with online resources that come from non-profit sources like NASA and PBS. Providing teachers, parents, and students with real-life based resources can make all the difference— and research confirms that the approach works.

Research and Guidance from the Experts

Experts agree that connecting math to the real world and helping kids experience the value of math in daily life increases engagement and helps create a more math positive culture too.

For example, The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) recommends using the real world to help students think about mathematical concepts and understand the value of the work they do in class. The National Academy of Science in Adding It Up: Helping Children Learn Mathematics says that building on informal learning is a key to math understanding and achievement. They recommend that, “parents and other caregivers, through games, puzzles, and other activities in the home, can also help children develop their informal knowledge and can augment the school’s efforts… Support from home and school can have a catalytic effect on children’s mathematical development, and the sooner that support is provided, the better.”

The more students practice and use math in their daily lives, the more they retain for success in the new school year and in their lives.  The more they practice, in whatever form, the more they will retain, and the more successful they will be as they start the next school year. 

Ways to ‘Keep it Real’ over Winter and Summer Breaks – and Anytime

Here are some ideas to use during breaks using web-based resources and hands-on activities:

Online math resources. There’s a wealth of places on the web for kids to get real world information and activities!  When kids get together with family over the holidays, these provide great ways to have some (free) fun:

  • Great Math ideas from NASA! Practical Uses of Math and Science (PUMAS) currently has over 90 activities aimed primarily at helping teachers enrich their presentation of math and science topics.
  • Down to Earth Math! Real World Math provides out-of-this-world math virtual activities for teachers and students designed for Google Earth. Concepts and challenges are presented in a way that make it easy to connect.
  • Environment-Based Math. National Math Trail has hundreds of games, worksheets and resources for teaching and learning math through observation of the world around us. 
  • Daily Math. The Annenberg Learner offers teacher resources and professional development, including Math in Daily Life.
  • Get Math Motivated. Real world applications of arithmetic at Math Motivations can be done in class or at home and require nothing except a device.
  • Money Math. PBS Parents has lots of math tips, fames – including money games, played with pocket change—to incorporate math into everyday life.

More Real Life Math Ideas and Resources from DreamBox

Just a half hour every few days during school breaks from math class can make adjusting to going back to school much easier for teachers and kids. At DreamBox, we think every day is a great day to have fun learning math in context!
To learn more about preventing ‘summer slide and the winter slalom’ in math, check out these resources:

Merry Meaningful Math Activities Infographic

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Jennifer Agustin

Jennifer Agustin

VP of Marketing at DreamBox Learning
Jennifer Agustin is the Vice President of Marketing at DreamBox Learning. As a marketer – and a mom – she’s passionate about student achievement and ensuring all kids reach their math potential with DreamBox, including her own! She also enjoys reading, cooking, and hiking with her family.
Jennifer Agustin