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## Tips for Keepin' up on Math Skills over Winter Break

• Challenge others or challenge yourself. Online math strategy games at Calculation Nation provide a safe environment for elementary and middle school students to challenge themselves and challenge others.  Games involve fractions, factoring, symmetry and comparing perimeter and area!
• Play strategy games with friends and family. A great way to spend quality time. Games such as Contig, and other free board games. Play as teams while learning so you can talk about strategy and then move playing individually.
• Talk to your children’s teachers before the break. Ask questions that show you are concerned about their development and maintenance of mathematics skills and fluency. For example, ask, “What do you see as my child’s strengths and weaknesses in math? What could we do while at home to develop or improve his/her weakest areas?”
• Read books that contain mathematics content with your children.  There are books at every grade level that can engage students in thinking about math!  Some suggestions include Ten Apples Up On Top! (elementary), The Great Number Rumble: A Story of Math in Surprising Places (middle grades), and The Numbers Behind NUMB3RS (high school). Want classroom activities to support math and literature? Check out Exploring Mathematics through Literature: Articles and Lessons for Prekindergarten through Grade 8 .
• Create a number book with your child. Use this template with your preschooler or kindergartner and have them decorate each page with pictures, stickers or stamps (or even glue beads or macaroni) that show the number on the page. For more advanced students, ask them to write expressions that equal the target number. For example, for the number 6, they could write 3X2, 10-4 and 2+2+1+1.
• Do projects with your child. Bake cookies or work on a home improvement project. Real-world applications of mathematical ideas, especially measurement, are everywhere! If you are stringing up lights, work with them to estimate how many sets you will need and calculate the total number of lights used.  If you are baking cookies, have them figure out what is needed to make a double batch.
• Exercise your body; mathercise your mind! Take in a sporting event, even if it’s only on TV. Keep track of yards gained and lost from running versus passing plays of their favorite football team or the shooting percentage of their favorite basketball player. Work with them to make comparisons between two of their favorite players and display it graphically. Check out the lesson connecting rate of movement to football on Illuminations, appropriate for middle and high school students.
•  Cut out snowflakes as decorations. Invite your child to describe the shapes they see in their snowflakes and encourage them to tell you what they know about symmetry. Consider delivering holiday cheer by delivering them to a nearby nursing home! Play with the fractal tool on Illuminations. For a high-school level lesson on creating a Koch snowflake using fractals, see the activity sheets  from Navigating through Geometry: 9-12 or from this article from the journal Mathematics Teacher.
• Have a problem of the day.  Work through one new problem before or after dinner each night. Figure This! has an awesome assortment of interesting problems with hints and solutions, so you don’t have to be a math wizard to facilitate!
• As a family, track your calorie intake or your finances. Are you consuming more food during the holiday season than you would otherwise? Are you spending money on gifts? Becoming aware is important in establishing control. You may also consider how much time each day you spend on each activity such as watching television, eating, sleeping. Make a graph. Then, brainstorm how you can manage to fit in alternative activities to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
• Seek out a volunteer opportunity that appeals to both you and your child. From cooking for a shelter, to collecting food for a food drive, to collecting coats for the needy, there are lots of opportunities to estimate and use math to project how much your efforts mean to others.
• Did your family receive gift cards as holiday gifts? How will you decide to use them during the holiday sales? Are the same discounts available through online ordering as in the store? Which is more – the cost of shipping or the cost of driving to the store?

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