How To Stay Sharp During Summer Break

posted May 21, 2018, 11:04 AM by Michelle Boyd
Summer should definitely be a time to relax, enjoy the warm weather, outdoor adventures, and chance to sleep in!  But that doesn't mean you shouldn't keep your brain in tip-top shape!  Here are some tips I have compiled over the years to keep our brains sharp over the summer and ready for the next level of math in the Fall.
  1. Read.  Maybe it's odd that your math teacher is telling you to read, but it's good for your brain!  A stronger brain is easier to work with when learning anything!  So read.  Read everything.  Read news articles here or here.  Read tons of books.  Read comic books.  Read cereal boxes.  Just keep reading!  Join a book club or summer reading program.  I hope you read some really great stuff.
  2. Practice your math facts.  Okay, sometimes we just have to get straight to the point and practice those math facts.  Going on a trip?  Pack some flash cards in a round clip and have your family members quiz you (and you them) during those times in the car, waiting at the airport, or hanging out at the beach!  Time each other to see who can beat their own personal time before the end of the day.  Lots of apps and websites will let you add flashcards to your iPods and smart phones.  I like Quizlet (both website and app).  I also like working on my speed with Brain Age and Brain Age 2 for the Nintendo DS.  A great app I found that looks like Fruit Ninja: Factor Samurai.  It's available for $2.99 through Apple, and for FREE on the Android market!
  3. Help your parents grocery shop.  Help your parent/guardian/family member plan the shopping list, estimating what the total cost will be under a certain budget.  As you shop, keep track of approximate costs to readjust your estimate, put back/exchange items because of budget constraints, and make sure you have the essentials.  Bonus treat for you if you can estimate within five bucks--without going over!
  4. Calculate the tip and total at a restaurant.  Ask your parents if you can use your estimating skills and understanding of percents to calculate the tip and total for the restaurant bill.
  5. Play integer war with your family/friends.  I love card games!  Mix things up with integer war.  Use a standard deck of cards.  Red is negative, black is positive, face cards are 11, 12, and 13, and Ace is 1.  The bigger number wins the pile.
  6. Bake a batch of your favorite cookies and double the recipe.  My sister and I like to bake cookies to bring on our road trips.  Bake cookies to prepare for your road trip!  My family also has a Christmas in July party every year, and doubling recipes is essential to ensuring we have enough Christmas cookies on the tables!  What summer events can you double a recipe for?
  7. Help plan a family trip.  Get out a map--a real map!--and use it to plan your next family adventure!  This can be a map of the neighborhood, Disneyland, the Bay Area, California, the US, or another country!  Plan out your itinerary (How many days?  How long can you spend in each place?), activities (Where will you eat, play, and sleep?), and budget (How much do you have to spend?  How much will each activity cost to do?  How much will hotels, gas, and food cost?).  A lot goes in to planning a road trip so make sure you have enough time to go/do what you want, and stay within your budget!
  8. Play some fun math games online or on your iPod/device.  Take a look at my working list of apps for iOS and list for Androids, and my working list of online games!
  9. Learn something new.  Do you like to bake?  There are cooking classes available for kids here!  Interested in technology?  Apple offers summer camps!  Are you a girl scout or boy scout?  Go to summer camp with them--I used to when I was a girl scout, so I know you will learn lots of new skills and hobbies there!  Want to learn how to decorate cakes?  Lots of craft stores offer those for you!  Learn to play an instrument. (More reasons here and here on that topic.)  Teach yourself how to do something.  Teach a younger sibling how to do something.
  10. Just stay busy and have fun.  Get together with the neighborhood kids and ride your bike, play outside, dance, make up a dance to your favorite song, put on a skit for the parents of the neighborhood, make up a new board game from the pieces of old board games that are missing pieces/cards.  Play games with your family--board games and card games.  My favorite summer games to play with my family include Phase 10TabooSequenceRummikubGolf (I'll have to write up my family's version of this, but this is pretty close), Speed, and Rummy.  Class favorites include BlokusBattleshipMancalaCharoodles, and Chess.


I will add to this list as I think of more things to keep your brain sharp...

I'm not saying don't watch a whole bunch of movies this summer--I can't wait to go to a matinee show--just get outside, too, and keep thinking!  I can't wait to hear all about your summer adventures!  Have a great summer!

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