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NYC Helpline: How To: Teach Math
Creating Summer Math Tool Kits
Sarah Picard Taylor

As summer approaches many teachers and parents marvel at what the students have accomplished in one school year. You will want their mathematical thinking to continue over the summer so your students will not lose all they gained during the school year. Creating summer math tool kits can be a fun way to spend the last week of math time during the school year. Here are some recommendations for setting up tool kits in your classroom.

First, you will want to get a container for the tool kits. Large 9x12 inch envelopes or one gallon plastic bags are simple solution. However, some teachers and students spend a little bit of money and buy small cotton or canvas tote bags. They can be purchased in bulk for the whole class at websites for about $1.50 or $0.75 each. I found some bandana print and tie dye bags online.

You can add notebooks and special pencils to the bag. These can be found at any school supply store, but if you are looking to buy in bulk, try Staples online.

You might also want to include a tape measure to encourage kids to measure things around the house or in the backyard. These tape measure key chains sell for less than fifty cents each!

You will also want to give them a 100 chart to help them visualize the base ten system as they solve math word problems.

If you study coins and counting money throughout the year, you may want to give students fake coins to practice with over the summer.

Students can use notebooks to keep track of their mathematical thinking over the summer. You can make a list with the students of all the possibilities that might go into this notebook. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Measure the sizes of things around the house or in the back yard. Sketch a picture of the thing you measured and then write the measurements next to the picture.
  • Make lunch for your friends and invite them over to play restaurant. Write a little menu and then use fake coins for your guests to pay and for you to give the correct change. You can use your notebook as a place for the menu or a place for you to record their order.
  • Cut out coupons from the Sunday newspaper. Find coins that add up to the amount of the coupon. Then glue the coupon to a notebook page and write the names of the coins that add up to the amount on the coupon. For example, if you cut out a coupon for 35 cents, glue the coupon in your notebook and write “1 quarter and 1 dime” on the page.
  • Make up your own two digit addition and subtraction problems in your notebook. Use your 100 chart or your baggie of buttons to help you solve each problem.
Celebrate these new tool kits on the last day of school. You can invite students to bring in a special pencil or eraser for each of their friends as a way of encouraging math thinking throughout the summer. Invite them to play with their tool kits together and then bring their notebooks back at he beginning of the next year to show their teachers all the hard work they did over the summer.


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