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Ways to Sharpen 7th-12th Grade Student Math Skills in the Summer

Posted by Heather Taylor on July 30, 2021 at 12:00 PM
Heather Taylor
2020_11_09Sanford-1676-1It's time to start thinking about the next school year. To avoid the summer slide and begin with a solid mathematical foundation for the school year, your child can spend time each week on mathematical thinking and reasoning skills to strengthen their previous skills and fill in any gaps of knowledge. By practicing, students can build their number sense, algebraic reasoning, and problem-solving abilities. Below are three activities and three online resources to sharpen your middle and high school students' math skills. To help your child, you can have them complete the activities below and go to the online resources to practice math skills this summer:
 The Four 4's Activity
Students can work on the Four 4s activity throughout the summer. In this activity, students need to use four 4s with a combination of operations to equal different numbers. You can have your child start with 1-20, and once they have solutions for 1-20, encourage them to try 21 - 40 or even go all the way to 100!. Here's a sample of student work:
Four 4s Sample


Many students, even at the high school level, can be intimated by fractions. It is essential to review the rules of fractions to understand the concepts. Activities that involve determining a missing part of a fraction equation, figuring out the mystery fraction from clues, and writing fraction equations from given constraints help build students' conceptual understanding of fractions. Working on problems helps students move away from applying memorized rules to applying their conceptual knowledge of fractions. Here are a few sample problems:


Exploring patterns helps students with their critical thinking skills, deductive reasoning, and algebraic reasoning. These also allow students to use logic and pre-algebra skills. Activities include Balanced Benders and emoji math, SolveMe Puzzles, which include Algebraic Mobiles and Grid Puzzles. Students don't realize while they are working on these puzzles and games, is that they are using algebraic thinking to solve each problem! Students who have some experience with writing and solving algebraic expressions can take patterns one step further by writing algebraic expressions to generalize the pattern. Here are some that we've done:
Patterns (2)

Khan Academy

Khan Academy is a free online resource available for skill review. Below, find the course your child will be entering in the fall and you will see two links for Khan Academy courses that you can work on this summer.


IXL Math

Your child can access a limited number of practice problems each day for free on the IXL Math website.

Recommended Books for Problem Solving and Puzzles

Check out the following books (some of them are offered at different levels). You can download a sample for each book to see what the puzzles are like and what level would be appropriate.  In addition, you can go to the Critical Thinking website to sign up to receive a free puzzle each week. 

At Sanford, we provide valuable resources to our students as they prepare academically for the start of the school year. In addition, we offer Summer Enrichment courses to provide support and practice over the summer.

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Sanford Math Instructor Heather Taylor graduated from Drexel University with a Master’s of Science in Mathematics Learning and Teaching. Mrs. Taylor achieved a perfect GPA of 4.0 in the competitive program, which “emphasizes implementing student-centered and problem-based instructional practices and utilizing technology-enhanced strategies to meet the needs of math learners of all abilities.” She is the Co-Chair of the math department and is the Head Coach of the Girls’ Soccer Team.


Topics: Education, Summer, Parenting Tips, Middle School, High School