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Math Activities For Kids Who Hate Math: 7 Sneaky Ways to Cover Math!


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Written by Adrienne Bolton of The Mommy Mess.

As I type, my 13-year-old son is working on his math lesson. He’s been at it for hours today, taking several breaks just to get through one lesson. It’s Monday, so there’s that, but math has always been a struggle in our homeschool.  It’s the one subject I’m “banging my head against the wall” over the most.

Are you looking for math activities for kids who hate math?

I am!

On days when I don’t have the energy to push a lesson or I just want to sleep knowing my kid multiplied something that day, I can always turn to one of these activities and breathe easy.

Math Activities For Kids Who Hate Math

Go grocery shopping.

Help your child create a grocery list for the week. Estimate the cost of each item and the expected total. Depending on your child’s age, you can take the project as far as you want.

Now that I’m thinking about it, I have an adult child who could benefit from this activity. Ha!

Try these ideas for your shopping trip:

  • Check your grocer’s weekly advertisement and compare prices with another grocer.
  • Figure the cost of items priced by weight like produce and meats. (Hello, multiplication!)
  • Clip coupons (addition, subtraction, and savings, oh my!)
  • Estimate the cost your weekly grocery bill.
  • Meal plan and estimate the cost of each meal.
  • Compare prices between brands.

Sell old toys and games on eBay.

eBay is a fantastic place for your kids to practice math skills! Not only does selling stuff online help you clean out all the toys and games nobody plays with anymore, but it also allows for your child to earn a little extra cash.

Money talks! Nothing motivates my kid more than knowing he might make a few bucks. Selling old toys, figures, and video games has been a great way for my son to practice math and he doesn’t even realize he’s doing it.

The following are concepts covered in an eBay transaction from start to finish:

  • percentages and decimals
  • weight
  • calculating shipping costs
  • profit
  • loss
  • fees (PayPal and eBay)
  • pricing
  • time
  • addition/subtraction
  • multiplication/division

Selling on eBay isn’t just a great project for math either! It covers skills like photography and keyboarding. Communicating with potential buyers helps hone those email and interpersonal skills. Depending on your child’s age, they could even get their own toy store up and running!

Apps, apps, apps.

There are so many great free math apps. When I don’t think we’re going to get to the lesson or I can see my son is shutting down, I can turn to an app and at least know he’s getting some multiplication practice in.

Something is ALWAYS better than nothing!

Get in the kitchen.

Cooking and baking have saved me on more than one occasion. Getting your kids in the kitchen is a fun way to incorporate math concepts without even trying. It’s 100% hands-on and depending on what you’re making, you can even incorporate some other subjects like history, geography, and culinary skills.

The kitchen helps cover math concepts like:

  • measurements
  • conversions
  • temperature
  • following instructions/word problems
  • fractions
  • adding/subtracting
  • multiplication/division (split a recipe or double it for a large family)
  • time

Plan a fantasy vacation.

If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go? This is a super fun project that sparks the attention for sure. Estimate the cost of a family vacation to your child’s dream destination. It goes without saying this could be turned into an entire unit study! Geography, history, travel, cultures…the list goes on, but the math? There’s SO much.

  • hotel and flight costs
  • gas and food costs
  • mileage
  • route
  • time
  • estimate expenses like shopping and entertainment

This is your kid’s vacation. Let their imagination be the tour guide! What activities or excursions does he want to try while your visiting? Add up the cost! The more you “do” on your trip, the more math is covered. Safe travels, friends!

Take a personal finance or stewardship course.

My son responds well to real-world math. Figuring out a sale price or calculating his potential eBay earnings seems to spark way more interest for him than a textbook.

A course like personal finance or stewardship offers an everyday perspective that might interest your reluctant mathematician.

It can be hard to let go of what we think math should look like. Textbook open, pencils out, add stress, the clock ticking, and my child’s frustration, and you’ve got a fairly accurate picture of what math looks like at our house. But there’s always a way for me to switch things up for sanity.

Embrace change.

This year, I’ve made some changes to the curriculum we’ve been using from the start and I’m seeing some positive changes! It’s still a tough subject for us to cover, but it’s better than it was in years past.

Hallelujah!

More than anything, remember: taking a day to do something different helps break up the monotony of math. Don’t be afraid to embrace change.

Is math a battle in your homeschool? What math activities would you add to the list?

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Author profile
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Adrienne Bolton is a freelance writer and veteran homeschool mom. She began homeschooling in 2009 to meet the needs of her oldest son who struggled with the public school setting. Her boys have had different experiences with homeschooling, but both have thrived in spite of her. Her oldest son transitioned from public school after fourth grade and her youngest is 100% homegrown, having never stepped foot in a traditional classroom. Now with one son in college and one working his way through high school, she is proof anyone can do this. She writes with humor and heart, peppered with occasional snark and sarcasm. When she is not writing or working you can find her with a good book in hand, snuggling her massive Pitbull fur baby, or making something yummy in the kitchen. She loves to cook, bake, and be outdoors in the sunshine. The beach is her happy place and she's a true flip-flop wearing Florida girl. Connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.

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