Active Learners: Fun Activities to Build Your Child’s Math Skills through Sports

math through sport

Would your child rather spend time on the football field than sit down to study equations?

This is not necessarily a bad thing when it comes to your child’s learning. In fact, not only have recent studies explored the link between physical activity and academic achievement, playing sports can be a fun and easy way to teach your child important mathematical concepts.

The following activities will let you help your child make connections between mathematics and other disciplines such as sports, to help them appreciate mathematics and find it more accessible and enjoyable to learn (while staying fit and active at the same time!).

1. Keeping Score. Many children enjoy keeping score during a sporting game. Encourage your child to add together scores while playing or watching competitive sports such as basketball or football. You can set up a scoreboard in your backyard or use simple pen and paper to keep a tally during a game. If your child is feeling confident, they can even keep score of other factors, such as strikes and fouls, or the number of innings in a baseball or cricket match.

2. Heads or tails. Kick off your game with a coin toss and introduce your child to the concept of chance and probability. Probability tells us that for a single coin toss, there are two possible outcomes – heads or tails – so the chance of getting either one is 1 in 2, or 50%. You can also record the result of each coin toss over the course of a few weeks and experiment with probability and chance together.

3. Geometry. Many sporting games involve a lot of geometry, which provides a great opportunity to talk to your child about geometrical concepts. Observe the different shapes of the fields, as well as different lines and markings. At what angle should a player kick or hit the ball? Why are different sporting fields shaped differently? Measure the distance of important field placements, like the distance between goals or the circumference of a basketball or netball rim.

4. Performance graphs. Whether it’s your child’s own sporting team or one they love to watch on the television, you can help them compare a team’s final stats versus other games in the year by creating a performance graph. This can be a fun ongoing activity that you and your child look forward to doing together. Older children may also attempt to average each player’s contribution, like scores, yards and hits, and calculate the probability of each player’s scoring potential using past scoring numbers.

5. Multiplication. Several sporting games such as rugby, cricket and basketball include a levelled scoring system, which provides a great opportunity to build your child’s multiplication skills. If your child loves basketball, encourage them to count how many one, two or three point scores they make and to record them on a chart. At the end of the game, help them add up their overall score using multiplication. For a more challenging activity, you can create your own point system which includes double digits.

Most importantly, remember to keep things fun and flexible. Over time, your little athlete will become a natural mathlete by continuing to apply their mathematical skills on the sporting field!

Mathseeds is the fun online mathematics program for ages 3-6. Children work through a sequence of highly engaging interactive lessons designed to build essential early numeracy and problem solving skills.

Click here for your free 14-day trial of Mathseeds and Reading Eggs, the multi-award winning online reading program.

10 fun ways to build early numeracy skills

math skills for kids

Mathematics can either be fun or daunting for young children. But by encouraging your child to build important early numeracy skills in a relaxed, interesting and interactive way, you are giving them the best possible chance at succeeding in, and learning to love, mathematics!

1. Play dough shapes. Ask your child to look at different 2D and 3D shapes and form them using play dough. You can also use shape cutters to help guide them. This activity gives your child a hands-on opportunity to learn, observe and manipulate different shapes.

2. Count and sort a basket of toys. Sorting and classifying objects help children understand the nature of mathematics. Gather a basket or box of toys and sit down with your child to count them. Sort them based on size, colour or theme. This is also a great way to encourage them to put away their toys!

3. Experiment with volumes during bath time. Collect differently sized jars, cups and containers and use them during bath time to teach your child about ‘full’ and ‘empty’ and compare capacities. Talk about what’s happening as you play. For example, “My cup is full, no more water can fit in my cup”, or “Let’s pour water from my small cup to your big cup and see if it becomes full”.

4. Counting in the kitchen. Cooking together is a great way to learn about fractions and measurements in the kitchen. Show your child different measuring tools and talk about the concept of fractions, such as explaining how two ½ cups make one whole cup.

5. Don’t drop the ball. Take your mathematics lesson outside by counting the number of times you and your child can throw a ball to each other without dropping it. You can also ask another child to keep a tally.

6. Mathematics in nature. Taking a walk gives your child many opportunities to build early numeracy skills. Compare the sizes of different rocks, assess how many birds you spot, note similarities and differences between different leaves, and carry a notebook to put the things you see into categories.

7. Dry macaroni patterns. Patterns help children learn sequencing and to make predictions, which leads to stronger numeracy skills. Have fun with patterns by letting your child arrange dry macaroni into different patterns or designs. You can also use beads or different types of cereal.

8. Building block towers. Building and identifying sequences help your child develop a sense of order, logic, and reason. Building block towers is a fun way to introduce your child to sequencing, by following a step-by-step method with a final goal in mind.

9. Number safari. In the car, have your child look for numbers in street and shop signs, and on licence plates. See if they can find all numbers up to ten and encourage them to call out the numbers as they find them.

10. Connect the dots. Connect the dots is a fun ways to teach your child about number sequencing. You can download this free connect the dots activity featuring Reggie from Reading Eggs!

Mathseeds is the fun online mathematics program for ages 3-6. Children work through a sequence of highly engaging interactive lessons designed to build essential early numeracy and problem solving skills.

Click here for your free 14-day trial of Mathseeds and Reading Eggs, the multi-award winning online reading program.