Four Games To Boost Your Children’s Math And Reading Skills On The Playground
Did you know that playing games like Scrabble and Monopoly can help your children practice their math and reading skills? It’s true; the math, reading, and critical thinking skills these games reinforce help your children learn. But what about playground games like hopscotch, jacks, or jump rope? In addition to exercising their bodies, these games help develop your children’s brains.
According to a Franklin Institute study and a 2008 study by the University of Illinois at Chicago, muscle movements activate and strengthen brain cells, especially in instances where the activity challenges your body to move differently or learn new tasks. For example, when your children are hopping on one foot during hopscotch or practicing writing with their non-dominant hands, they are growing neurons and increasing nerve synapses. In other words, they not only are having fun and trying something new, but are also keeping their brains sharp.
We have listed four ways you can spice up your children’s favorite playground games and help give their brains a boost.
This chalk-based playground game is not only fun to play, but also can be easily modified to incorporate math and reading. For example, next time your children play hopscotch, instead of numbering the boxes 1, 2, 3, etc., create a series of math problems that they need to solve before proceeding to the next box. You could also use letters and have your children say a word starting with that particular letter and even use that word in a sentence.
- Jump rope
Have your children take turns jumping rope. Record the number of times one child has jumped each turn. Then have your children calculate the total number of jumps they made each turn. You can also include multipliers – special points where the total number of jumps or points gets multiplied after reaching a specific milestone such as 25 or 50 – as an extra opportunity for your children to gain points and to practice multiplication skills.
- Alphabet Mash-Up
Instead of reciting the ABC’s from A to Z, challenge your children to write the alphabet using both their dominant and non-dominant hands with sidewalk chalk. For example, write a letter using the dominant hand, and then make its mirror image with the non-dominant hand. Not only can this game help them practice visual and spatial skills, but is a great way to tap into both sides of their brains.
One way to make jacks a more challenging game is by asking your children to spell out a word instead of counting the number of jacks caught each round. For example, if there are four jacks on the playing field, ask your children to spell “went.” When your children try to scoop up one jack, they would say “w.” When your children try to scoop up two jacks, they would say “w,” and “e.” Third time your children would say “w,” “e,” and “n.” The final time your children would spell the entire word, “went.”
You could also adopt this game using math by creating math facts for your children to solve, such as “1+0,” “1+2,” “1 X 3,” “2 X 2,” and so on.
So, the next time you are looking for exercise and a brain boost, try out some of these playground games. What are some additional ways you can add math and reading into playground games?