Summer Math Ideas

Can you believe summer is more than half way over?!  Time has flown by! As mentioned in previous posts on Summer Learning Loss, “brain drain” has kicked in by now and (whether they want to admit it or not) they are itching for some mental stimulation. Below are some Math games and activities that will challenge them academically! Let’s mold those little mushy brains before it’s too late:

At Home Math

  • Teach your child how to write out a checkbook.  Make it fun by allowing your child to choose what he/she wants to “buy” (ex: New pair of shoes, video game, etc)
  • Have your child measure ingredients as you cook together
  • Label a soccer ball (or beach ball) with the numbers 0-9 in each hexagon.  Stand apart from your child and pass the ball back and forth.  Whatever numbers your thumbs land on when catching the ball are the numbers that you will add, subtract or multiply!
  • Pass a ball back and forth and count by 2’s, 3’s, 5’s, etc
  • Play “war” with a deck of cards–but add, subtract or multiply the two numbers together. Whoever says the correct answer first wins the cards
  • Play board games together!
  • Roll a double dice and have your child add, subtract or multiply the two numbers together
  • Let your child know what time you are leaving for an event, and have them calculate how much time there is between the current time and the time you are leaving
  • Start a change jar and at the end of the week, have your child count the contents
  • Pour different amounts of rice or water into three or four glasses that are the same size.  Compare the amounts of rice/water using terms such as more, less or same as

Math on the Go

  • Have your child count the items in the grocery cart. Have them tell you when you’ve reached a certain number
  • Give the child a set amount they can “spend” at the store. Have them add different items to reach the set amount
  • Have your child help by counting change
  • When at a restaurant, have your child find the most expensive item and the least expensive item on the menu.  Let them find the difference (subtract)
  • Have your child calculate the proper tip
  • Have your child write down license plate numbers. They can add, subtract and multiply the numbers. You can also have them put the license plate numbers in order from least to greatest
  • Have your child keep track of the time you left and the time you arrived, and calculate how long the trip took
  • If you are at the beach, have your child draw shapes in the sand

These are just a few basic ideas that you can do around the house and on the go!  Don’t let summer pass you by without some math fact practice and a few of these simple ideas!

Summer Learning Loss

Check out this recent post from our Sylvan Headquarters:

A Break From School Does Not Mean a Break From Learning

Within 24 to 48 hours after learning new concepts, students often begin to forget information. Unless academic theories are reinforced and applied immediately, even the best students may not be able to recall their classroom lessons during school breaks. Although a vacation from school is great for recharging your children’s batteries, it can often offset the learning process.

“Students can lose academic proficiency during school breaks, which could prove troublesome when returning back to school,” said Richard E. Bavaria, Ph.D. and vice president of Sylvan Learning Center. “School breaks are an important time for parents to share in everyday learning activities with their children to enhance math, reading, writing, and study skills development.”

No matter what your schedule entails over the school break, whether you are traveling or staying home, it is easy to reinforce learning activities. The following tips are fun ways to help your child continue to learn while away from school.

  • Attend academic camps. To make the most of school breaks, look for camps that provide an academic focus. Programs should offer a broad selection of courses built to suit individual needs while targeting specific subjects and offering a small group environment. Camps can help a child better understand concepts, increase problem-solving skills, and sharpen overall academic development. When selecting an academic camp, look for programs with:
    • Proficiency in the subject of your choosing
    • Tutors with experience teaching children the same age as your child
    • Flexibility in scheduling
  • Write a story. To address writing development, encourage your child to keep a daily journal or write letters to family members to communicate weekly highlights. Encourage your child to read her writings aloud.
  • Create a budget. Ask your child to assist in the creation of a grocery budget. This will help develop math skills and allow children to plan for “extras” that they might want during their break.
  • Play a game. Promote imagination and create your own game. Board games and puzzles are not only fun, but encourage the development of analysis and logic skills. Play together as a family to double the fun.
  • Take a trip to the library. Local libraries offer infinite resources for families and many offer free children’s programs and clubs. Librarians can also help parents find books that are appropriate for your child’s interests and reading level.
  • Explore the Internet. There are an abundance of sites that provide educational enrichment for children and motivate students to study more often and for longer periods of time. For instance, visit to create personalized book lists from more than 7,000 recommended titles. Students in grades K-8 can take quizzes on the books they have read at home or at school and earn prizes for their comprehension.

For free guides and a variety of complimentary activity booklets, visit our Resources page!  Give us a call or fill out the Contact Us form for additional information!

Home Literacy Ideas

Don’t let Summer Brain Drain get you down! As promised, here are a few home literacy activities you can do to help avoid summer learning loss!

1) Grab a beach ball and write the following questions:

What is the plot of the story?
Who are the characters in the story?
What is the setting of the story?
How could you relate this story to your own life?
If you were the author, what would happen next?
Compare and contrast two characters in the story.

Toss the beach ball to your child. Answer the questions your thumb lands on!

2) Encourage your child to read! He or she can read the material found on cereal boxes, soda bottles or candy wrappers! This is both informational and promotes good reading practice.

3) Have your child help by reading recipes as you are cooking!

4) Be silly! Let them spell words in the air using their elbow, finger, foot, etc.

5) Use the letters of your child’s name to form different words.

6) Have your child pick a picture from a newspaper or magazine, and write a story! Be creative!

7) Place Newspaper Hide-and-Seek! Ask your child to think of a common word.  Have them search the newspaper for that word and highlight it.  For younger children, have them find a certain letter.

8) Enlist your child’s help in making the grocery list! Let them write down what you need.

9) Does your child have a favorite athlete, movie star or musician? Encourage them to write a fan letter!

10) Play hopscotch! Have your child say the names or sounds of the letters as they land on each square.  For older children, have them jump on letters to make different words.

These are just a few ideas out of many!  Have fun, be silly and let loose!  Happy summer reading!

Summer Learning Loss


Campfires, fireflies, sleeping in, driving with the windows down and soaking up the sun are just a few of my favorite things about summer. A break in our daily routines, a chance to escape and time off of school. It all seems so refreshing. But how much damage are we really doing when we take this three month mental break?

Research tells us that “summer brain drain” happens when:

  • there is less reading, conversation and quality time with parents or other significant adults
  • there isn’t access to books, magazines and other entertaining reading materials
  • there aren’t role models to show how lifelong learning is important to children and adults alike
  • summer is filled with boredom, passive time-fillers and little intellectual stimulation

Did you know Summer Learning Loss is greater in math than in reading, and on average, students lose up to 2 months of grade level equivalency in math computation skills?

So what can you do to help your child avoid this? There are quite a few online games, apps and summer camps that can steer you in the right direction. So, let’s make learning fun!

  • Help students find books that are engaging and entertaining (and on grade level!). Use your local library and Sylvan Learning Center as a resource!  It’s what they are for!
  • Keep your child stimulated with plenty of exercise
  • Make sure they keep reading, writing and calculating!
  • Be a good role model!  Make sure you practice what you preach!

Summer is a great time for relaxing and shooting the breeze, just make sure you don’t let too much “drainage” occur! Check back soon for more ideas and activities to boost your brain!

A Healthy Memorial Day Feast

Happy Memorial Day!

One of my favorite ways to celebrate Memorial Day is with a fantastic, family-filled potluck, but I always end up feeling guilty for the “food baby” I’ve adopted by the end of the night. We wear our stretchy pants and over-sized tee shirts to hide our ever expanding waistlines in order to devour the delicious sides that Aunt Marge created. BUT, FEAR NOT! This year, you can have your cake and eat it too!

Below is a list of delicious dishes that are made with whole, healthy ingredients. They go great with all barbecue concoctions!  And as a bonus, your stretched-out yoga pants will politely thank you!

garden salad on a stick1) Salad on a Stick–Everything tastes better when it is served on a stick!  Food Network has a few ideas for this, but my favorite simple salad is this one. You can make it more interesting by adding a variety of vegetables and switching up the dressings/dips!  Turn it into a Cobb Salad by chopping up egg slices, cheese cubes, avocado and chicken breast. Go Greek with kalamata olives, red onion and bell peppers. Dive into summer with strawberries, sliced apples and a poppy seed dressing.  The possibilities are endless!



Nutella Apples

2) Nutella Apple Slices–The Nutella train has arrived and it has brought several scrumptious desserts! This one is suuuuper easy and extremely delicious. All you have to do is chop up an apple, throw it in a bag with a TINY bit of lemon juice (to prevent browning) and dab dry with a paper towel (very important step!! The Nutella won’t stick otherwise!!).  Next, grab your spatula and glob the tops with that hazelnut gold.  Finally, sprinkle them with some homemade granola and VOILA! Your little slices of heaven are complete.



greek mac n cheese

3) Greek Mac ‘n Cheese–Macaroni and Cheese is one of my favorite comfort foods, but this dish punches my daily caloric intake in the face. Fortunately, Oikos has created a dish that leaves my tummy happy and my arteries clean.  They substitute heavy cream with Greek yogurt for a deliciously healthy twist!  Greek yogurt is packed with protein. You won’t be disappointed.



Pasta Salad

4) Rotini, Summer Squash and Prosciutto Salad with Rosemary Dressing–Skip the traditional pasta salad for Cooking Light’s healthy pasta side dish. This salad with have you drooling in no time! Make sure to use  whole wheat rotini and you won’t go wrong. The smokey flavor of the prosciutto melds wonderfully with the rosemary vinaigrette, which will surely keep you full and satisfied.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA5) Blueberry Pie with a Banana Graham Cracker Crust
–Every potluck needs a fantastic pie, and what is better than our “super-food” friend, the blueberry!  Blueberries are filled with antioxidants and phytoflavinoids (a berry a day keeps the doc away!), as well as vitamin C and potassium.  Not only can they lower your risk of heart disease and cancer, they are also anti-inflammatory. Doesn’t get much better than that! Check out Undressed Skeleton’s link for this amazing recipe and other healthy food options!  She uses canned blueberry filling for this pie, but you could always use fresh berries instead.


vanilla mint lemonade6) Vanilla Mint Lemonade–Nothing is more refreshing than a glass of fresh squeezed lemonade. Bobby Flay has an excellent recipe, to which I add a teaspoon of vanilla extract when simmering the simple syrup–making it simply divine.  If you would like a bubbly treat, you can substitute regular water for sparkling instead! For added health benefits, I always replace refined white sugar with organic cane sugar. This lemonade will fulfill your sweet cravings and can easily be tweaked into an “adult” version with a cup of a little sumthin’ sumthin’…


Want more healthy living ideas?  Check out my Pinterest page to see my pinning genius-ness.
You can also get some great ideas from here too! Have a wonderful Memorial Day! And don’t be afraid to go back for seconds with these wholesome babies!

Teacher Appreciation Week–Student Post

richie 300My Favorite Teacher

Mrs. Nardella is the best teacher I have ever had.  She would always make me smile with her great enthusiasm.  She helped me so much with my ability to read faster and more accurately.  She always gave us treats and privileges and rarely yelled.  She would always get us up and moving, and she made learning fun!   —Richie, 7th grade

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!  You DO make a difference!