Summer vacation should be just that. It should be time for students to relax and enjoy life without worrying about school. This is especially true for those who find school difficult and exhausting. On the other hand, summer is also the time when math facts are forgotten. When facts are automatic, they are easily used to solve higher level problems. When students are fluent in basic math skills, their mental energy can be used to work on more complicated math concepts. So, the trick is to figure out a way to make practicing math facts during summer vacation fun so students will practice without feeling like they are still in school.

One option is to find games children enjoy. My favorite math facts game is called Math War. This card game can be played with regular decks of cards. Here are instructions to learn how to set up the decks as well as to find variations for how to play the game. The game can be set up so that two siblings of different ages can play together and both be challenged. For example, when play starts, both people put down two of their cards face up. The younger player can be asked to add or subtract their cards and the older player can also add or subtract, but for them red cards are negative numbers and black cards are positive numbers. This adds a level of challenge to make it fair to the younger child. Depending on the variation of Math War, sometimes the largest sum wins and sometimes the smallest.

There are many free apps for smartphones or tablets that are fun ways to practice math skills. The trick is to find something your children enjoy playing so that it doesn’t seem like school. In fact, a variety of math games is best.

I hope you and your children have some quality fun time together this summer. Please let me know if you have some fun learning games your children enjoy. I encourage you to play with your children so they will see that you enjoy math games, too.