How do I keep my kid thinking over the summer?

July 1, 2014

Oh, you and me both, honey!  You and me both!  This is what I’m doing – please share your ideas in the comments!

  • Math, math, math!  I think this is the easiest thing for a kid to forget over the long, summer vacation. is a great, free site that gives you topic-specific worksheets.  Maisonet Math costs $10 for a year of unlimited worksheets.  You can check out what they have before you pay.  Believe it or not, we actually pay for in our family (mostly because I keep forgetting to shut off the renewal function!). IXL has math and language arts for kids K-12, but I hate to admit, my kid hardly ever does it.  He really doesn’t like online test stuff.  He’d rather write it all down on a piece of paper (but I think their content is great!).  And, hey, don’t go overboard.  Your kid should still have a <I>summer</I> after all.  I try for one math worksheet a day, 3-4x a week.
  • Reading time is important!  Here is an old post of mine regarding some great books for kids.  And, here is James Patterson’s site Read Kiddo Read.  Your local library is a great place to go during the summer (and all year!), and librarians are always a wonderful source of recommendations.  Also, I find it much more educational and inspiring to page through an encyclopedia than to miscellaneously go through information online – I think it might be because things online are linked, so they are connected in some way, but the information in a paper encyclopedia is alphabetical, so you get exposed to things you might not ever find out about otherwise.  Also, there’s a lot less inappropriate material for kids in a World Book Encyclopedia, as compared to the rough-and-tumble internet.
  • Limit video/computer game time!  Hey, I love them myself (I am a recovering 2048 and Kingdom Rush addict!), but you’ve got to limit the amount of time you play them, or seriously, your brain just turns to mush!  I prefer to have my son limit himself (doesn’t always work, but we’re getting better at it), and I use this timer from Oxo as a tool to help him do that.  (I’ve been a big fan of that timer for years.  Here’s an old post I wrote about it!)
  • Keep active, eat healthy, and try to maintain healthy sleep and eating habits!  Physical activity and healthy eating are important (duh), and sleep is necessary for all of us, especially children (who should get between 10 and 12 hours of sleep a night, and they often won’t “sleep in” even if they are up late!).  So, try to maintain a regular, early bedtime during the summer!

Museum of Math opened in December – should I go?

January 14, 2013

Here’s the short version – if you are a tourist who is in town now, loves math, and is excited about this museum, get yourself to The Museum of Mathematics.  If you are a local, want to be busy for an hour or two, and love math particularly, I’d give it a few more weeks to get settled, and then go on a weekday (if possible).  If you’re looking for something science-y and not specifically only math-oriented and want to spend a day, visit the New York Hall of Science in Queens instead.

Museum of Mathematics, NYC

Museum of Mathematics, 11 East 26th Street (between 5th and Madison), NYC

I went to the Museum of Mathematics on Sunday, January 6, 2013 and was generally impressed.  It’s a loving tribute to mathematics, made by people who managed to raise heaping loads of cash.  They scored big on aesthetics and some of the exhibit detail was wonderful.  Many of the exhibits seem to be geared toward children in the 4th through 8th grade range.

Excellent exhibit detail was presented in basic, intermediate and advanced levels.

Excellent exhibit detail was presented in basic, intermediate and in-depth levels.

There were many hands-on exhibits, and the Enigma Cafe (a place to sit and work out puzzles on the lower level – there is no food served) seemed especially interesting.  However, even though the museum was probably at half capacity (or less) when I went, this puzzle area as well as many of the exhibits felt crowded.  This is why I advise going on a weekday if you can.

Screaming children, lighted floor, well-thought out seating.

Screaming children, lighted floor, well-thought out seating.

Harmony of the Spheres is a hands-on exhibit that makes music.

Harmony of the Spheres is a hands-on exhibit that makes music.

The reason I have suggested waiting a few weeks if you are local is because many of the exhibits were out of order when I was there.  The Museum of Mathematics just opened in December, so they’ll probably get it all up and running soon (I hope).

Many exhibits were unavailable or being repaired during our visit.

Many exhibits were unavailable or being repaired during our visit.

Museum of Mathematics
Open 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., 7 days a week
$15 per adult / $9 per child
Give yourself between 1.5 and 3 hours to visit the museum.

New York Times article about the museum
Live Science Photo Tour

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