Summer Counts for Numeracy

curly blond haired boy on shiny metal slide
Summer is just around the corner which means summer vacation! For teachers and parents, summer can represent time off work, more recreation time outside, or the possibility of taking a trip out of town. However, all teachers, including preschool, TK, and kindergarten teachers, are aware of another phenomenon that takes place every summer…the dreaded “summer slide.”

Here’s how The School of Education at Johns Hopkins University describes the summer slide:

Summer slide or summer learning loss, the phenomenon where young people lose academic skills over the summer, is one of the most significant causes of the achievement gap between lower and higher income youth and one of the strongest contributors to the high school dropout rate.

Wow! That is compelling evidence for parents, educators, community members, and students to consider. Let’s take a look at some fun, easy strategies that can help even the youngest students retain their knowledge of numbers and actually gain more growth!

When my kids were younger, we always made a list of summer activities that they could do when they inevitably would claim, “mom, I’m bored!” I’d take the list down off the fridge and used it as a handy set of suggestions that they had helped to generate. Now, I’ll get other parents started with some ideas. Be sure to continue adding to them with your own children!

Make a number line outside with sidewalk chalk. Children use a variety of gross motor skills (hopping, skipping, tip-toeing, etc.) to move up and down the number line. Call out a number and have children race to that number. What are the number neighbors? Add some dice and you can add and subtract your way up and down the line.

Gather lighter colored, flat rocks. Use a sharpie to write numbers on one side of the rocks. Make two of each number. Mix them up and turn the rocks over. Children take turns turning rocks over, saying the number and finding a match! You can also take the rocks and go on a scavenger hunt to find leaves, sticks, flowers, etc. that match the number on the rock.

Have children write any numbers they’d like on paper and clip on a clipboard. If you don’t have a clipboard, you can make one with a sturdy piece of cardboard and a paper clip. Walk the neighborhood with children and have them mark off numbers they find on a mailbox, license plate, etc. You can also bring your number hunt clipboard in the car or into stores to continue the game.

Roll socks up into balls, take them outside and toss! Help children use a measuring tape or yardstick to measure how far they travel! If you want to play inside, use mini-marshmallows and flick them with your finger. Rulers are great for children measuring shorter distances.

Add interest to playing with blocks or legos by adding number cards, measuring tools, shapes and plastic cups to the building supplies. Challenge children to make structures by picking number
cards. Name a shape and build it with legos, duplos, or wooden blocks. Use measuring tools to
build taller or longer structures. Plastic cups add another level of dimensions and are fun to bump
off with nerf guns!

This summer, avoid that summer slide and reduce the potential for hearing your child’s woeful sigh, “There’s nothing to do…I’m bored!” Allow your child to be as involved as possible in creating games, writing and reading numbers, and making sense of how numbers work. Make each day of summer count for your numeracy-ready almost-kindergartener.

About Stephanie Alexander

I am just one of those people who find young children charming, entertaining and fascinating! With my husband David, I’ve raised four successful children with whom we have loving, wonderful relationships. I’ve also been in the world of education for over 25 years in the roles of preschool teacher and director, kindergarten and transitional kindergarten teacher, and, currently, I’m serving transitional kindergarten-second grade students and teachers as an Instructional Service Coordinator with the Shasta County Office of Education. In 2015, I helped start the first Transitional Kindergarten/Kindergarten Professional Learning Community with 18 teachers participating from Shasta County. I'm excited about my latest job assignment: coaching teachers participating in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Grant as part of the Reach Higher Shasta organization.
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