Extra Time Tricks

Waiting for the dentist? Stuck in traffic? Waiting for your food at a restaurant? Just bored with nothing to do? Here are three activities that require minimal thought and materials but help children practice important skills.

  1. Dice Math. Is your child studying addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division facts? Throw the dice and add, subtract, multiply, or create a fraction (and reduce) the numbers that come up.
  2. Playing Card Math. Take out the face cards and play war with a partner. Decide if you want to play War Addition, Subraction, Multiplication, or Fractions. Each person draws two cards. Then, add, subtract, multiply, or create a fraction with your cards. The person with the highest number wins and keeps all four cards. The person with the most cards at the end of the game wins.
  3. Summarize Stories. Pick a story with your child to summarize. A rough way to practice the skill is to first introduce the topic, then tell three things about it using the words “first,” “then,” and “last.” End by restating your topic. Summarize recently read stories or movies. Also, try summarizing what happened during your day, a play date, or a class in school. It can be helpful to carry an index card that has the key words on it and allow your child to look at it while summarizing. Older children can practice the “think, summarize, response” system. First they should think about how they will summarize, then they can summarize, and finally they should ask for a response from their listener.

Down time and waiting time doesn’t have to be wasted. Talking, sharing stories, laughing, and practicing important skills can turn a long wait at the dentist into fun family time. There are so many different ways to turn down time into quality time. What are some of your tricks?


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