When it comes to our homeschooling It is important for us to help our children see that real learning happens all the time, not just when they are filling out worksheets or sitting at our school table.

One way we have added a bit of spice to our homeschooling is that one day a week I leave the math curriculum on the shelf and do some hands-on learning with games, crafts, etc. We call these days fun learning days where we sometimes use math software that we may have sitting around or manipulatives, such as mini chalkboards or counters. We may never get to using them otherwise, if we did not have specific days we choose to be our fun learning day for whatever subject you choose. As a homeschooling mom of an autistic teen everything we have can be a learning experience, from cooking in the kitchen to playing a board game. They all involve math right?

Just what kinds of things can you do on fun learning days? I’m glad you asked!

Young Children

*Counting games with candy, Legos, or anything else you might have lying around.

* “War” with a regular deck of cards or make your own deck with numbers to 100 and maybe a “wild card” or two to make things more exciting.

* If you have them, Snap Cubes (a popular manipulative) are great to play with, making “trains” of different color patterns. You start the pattern, and your child adds on to the train following the pattern. Then let them start a pattern and you finish it.

* Any board game that requires dice and counting.

* Use standard and non-standard items to measure things around the house. “Hey, Mom, did you know the cat is 50 paper clips long?”

* Kitchen – baking involves using lots of real-life fractions – while you’re at it, how about sharing the “fruits” of your math lesson with a neighbor!

* Play store

Elementary thru Middle School

* Math with Literature! We love Sir Cumference, A Place for Zero, Equal Schmequal, and other titles in the math adventure series.

* Our favorite math games are S’math and Knock Out! from Muggin’s Math – we just purchased their new fraction games, too.

* Board games, including Monopoly, PayDay!, Sequence and more.

* Card games like UNO and War. A favorite is to use flashcards with math facts as our “war” deck.

* Videos: Multiplication Rock, Money Rock * Play store and many of the other activities from the above list

* If you have any of the handheld, electronic math toys, Fun Learning Day is a good time to make sure they are put to use

* Computer games – Money Town, Math Blaster, etc. * Use activities from “Family Math”, “Math for Smarty Pants” or “Games for Learning Math.”

* Plan an imaginary trip and use a map to figure how many miles you will travel.

* For kids interested in the Stock Market, you can use Fun learning day each week to track and check on a couple of stocks, plotting their progress on a graph.

* Visit one of the fun, free math game sites online like the Math Arcade at funbrain.com. There are lots more free websites for online learning in my book, Using the Internet in Your Homeschool.

The above lists are just a few of the things we have done on fun learning day over the years. Writing this article has reminded me that my own homeschooling has fallen into a bit of a rut. Sounds like I need to implement more of these days in the upcoming school year and choose an “Outside the Book” kind of day!

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