Q:

Is there any way that we can incorporate math into our summer vacation plans? - Vacation Math

A:

When your family goes on vacation, whether you are hitting the highway, skyway or the railroad tracks, math should always be part of the trip. Be sure to take along a calculator, as it will encourage your children to use math and work with larger numbers.

On the planning side, children can use maps to figure out trip mileage, which can then be broken down to miles that will be traveled each day. On the road, they can determine miles between gas stops, the average speed and so on. For plane and train travel, children can also figure out the average speed. When they return to school, this type of math activity will lead to a better understanding of averages and rate-time-distance problems.

Depending on their ages, children can also track how much is being spent on meals, lodging, souvenirs and miscellaneous expenses. During the trip, they can play math games. For example, you can make up a simple problem, such as 6 x 8 or 4 + 9, and see who finds the answer first on a license plate or billboard. For more math travel games, stop by a learning or teacher-supply store before taking off. Trips are also good times to teach simple mental math skills and practice them.