13 Ways to Include Math In Your Activity Calendar

13 Ways to Include Math In Your Activity Calendar

User Profile By Haley Burress   United States

Found In: Activities Articles Math

Using daily and familiar operations, you can give seniors the chance to use their brains in a different way.
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When is the last time you intentionally scheduled time in your activity calendar for math-focused activities?

Most Activity Professionals rely on planning events that focus on physical or fine motor skills, socialization opportunities, or reminiscence. But we can also use math to create even more cognitive stimulation for our residents.

Why Consider Math Activities?

Do you find math boring, or do you have flashbacks of learning about angles and solving for “x” in high school? Math might not be everyone’s favorite subject, but its foundations are in daily tasks like grocery shopping or in more complex tasks like construction. Using these daily and familiar operations, you can give seniors the chance to use their brains in a different way. Learn more about neurobic exercises here.

Research has shown us that learning new skills, trying new things, and taking a break from the “normal” routine creates brain plasticity (the ability of the brain to modify its connections or rewire itself). Give your residents the opportunity to do all three by trying out a little math in your monthly programming calendar.

Math Activity Inspiration

You don’t have to give math tests or worksheets to incorporate math skills in a friendly way. Instead, try these math-based activities in your group or 1:1 interactions based on resident interests, history, preferences, and ability.

1. Budgeting Activities

Use familiar math by giving a budget and passing around grocery store advertisements. Have groups of residents, or individual residents, work on planning a meal for the budget. They will have to find ingredients in the advertisements, add the cost, and stay under, or at, budget. You can have some fun with scenarios, like “plan a picnic lunch” or “plan a fancy dinner party to take one of your peers”.

2. Problem of the Day

Try a math problem of the day together. You can do this problem together before your exercise class, explaining that you need to exercise your brain before your body.

3. Mark Completed Worksheets

Former teachers may enjoy grading math papers. Give them a stack of completed math worksheets and a red pen and watch them go. This is especially great for a former teacher with some early memory loss, as it taps into that role.

4. Plan Your Garden

Work with perimeter and area by involving residents when you plan your community garden. Determine how many feet of fencing you will need, as well as how much soil you will need to purchase. Then, estimate the cost by looking at current sale advertisements from your local gardening store.

5. Measure Twice, Cut Once

Use measurement utensils like rulers and tape measures when you work on crafts. For example, have participants cut six inches of ribbon after they measure it. This is great math skills as well as fine motor practice.

6. Guessing Jars

Have weekly estimation jars set up in your activity room or nursing station. Fill it up with odds and ends each week, and have residents (and family members), guess how many items there are in the clear container. Items can include pompons, paperclips, pencils, candy canes, or mints. The person who guesses the closest number can receive a prize at the weekly social.

7. Add Math to Your Newsletter

Add a worded math problem to your newsletter, or to your in-house announcement station (if you have one) that will run on your resident televisions.

8. Cost of Household Items Reminiscing

Work on determining equivalency and estimation by guessing how much common household items were last year, five years ago, twenty years ago, and fifty years ago. Try items like a lightbulb, gallon of gas, can of soup, a pound of lemons, etc.

9. Brush Up on Math Skills

Brush up on math skills by checking out YouTube for education videos for learning everything from multiplication tables via song to simplifying fractions. Make a regular event of it and call it your Math Club.

10. Pair Seniors with Children

Invite grandkids to a Math Star competition where they are paired with their senior loved one to work on math problems together. Flash cards are a good option for younger kids, while older kids can work out worded problems. Give prizes for which group got the most correct, as well as consolation prizes like “Never Gave Up”, “Best Handwriting”, etc. Cookies and punch for everyone after the competition!

11. Compare Math Tools: Then and Now

Invite a math class in from a local school to see how math tools have changed in the past 50 years. Compare old calculators to smartphones and computer programs that solve problems faster for students.

12. Plan Timeframes Together

Involve residents with planning outings and large events, focusing on timelines of the events. If it takes us 30 minutes to drive to the theater and about 30 minutes to load up the bus, and the show starts at 3pm, when should we leave? What about if we want extra time to grab popcorn and find our seats? Questions and problem solving regarding time can be a wonderful way to work the brain in a new but helpful way.

13. Count! Items, Steps, Anything!

Don’t underestimate the power of counting, especially for seniors with advanced memory loss. Count the scarves as you put them back in the basket, count the steps to get to the activity room, etc.

No matter if math was your favorite subject in school or not, there is a lot of the subject that you can incorporate into your regular happenings throughout your community. Start with one math activity per month and then increase it if there is interest. You never know how residents will respond!

Do you use math in your programming now? Tell me how - I’d love to hear!

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Comments   Post a Comment

Julie 13th Sep 2022 Activity Assistant
We incorporate some counting into our Cranium Crunches program, using counting by 1, 2, 5, 10, 100, forwards and backwards. Once they recognize the patterns, most people join in, even those who rarely participate! Residents seem to enjoy the exercise.
Susan 9th Nov 2022 Activity Director
Hi Julie
Great idea
Maria 26th Jul 2022 Lifestyle Coordinator - Newmans on the Park
I found this website and print out the maths problems for the residents to complete .

Arlene 13th Feb 2020 Activity Director
We are doing a ton of math sheets ( about 3rd grade) division, multiplication, addition, etc. The residents are having so much fun doing the math and when they return it to me they get a small treat and at the end of the month the resident that returns the most math papers will get a special prize. I have had residents that that normally don't participate requesting more math sheets daily. In March we are doing Math March Madness, where all activities will be dealing with numbers of some sort. I will also be placing decorative random numbers throughout the building and then we will have a number "OF THE DAY" the first one to find the daily number will get a prize, this will encourage them to walk around more to find the number.. March is gonna be fun!!
Susan 14th Feb 2020 Activity Director
Hi Arlene
Your ideas sound like great fun and I am glad you are getting such great cooperation we have many math activities that you might want to try
Thank you again for sharing
Lisa 21st Sep 2019 Retired
Here is a downloadable ‘book’ that is funny and fun! This was around $15 from Amazon. It has 3 difficulty levels of mischief-making riddles from jalapeños to submarines, roller coasters, flamingos, etc. I’m loving it and think it can be fun for all ages!

"Bedtime Math: A Fun Excuse to Stay Up Late (Bedtime Math Series Book 1)"
Susan 21st Sep 2019 Activity Director
The book looks good however it does look a little childish so make sure that when you write your notes that you state that the resident got much enjoyment and pleasure from this book
Alternately you could make copies of the pages if they do not look too childish
When you have any doubt write a good note about whatever you are doing
Solange 17th Sep 2019 Diversional Therapist
Thank you, Gwen and Rosemary, for sharing.
Gwen 17th Sep 2019 Wife/carer
Have a bowl of coloured buttons (or pom poms) . Firstly separate the colours into groups then count how many there are in each group, then add the group totals for an overall total,
Susan 17th Sep 2019 Activity Director
Great idea Rosemary
Rosemary 17th Sep 2019 Volunteer
My residents play High Roller with 4 dice. Each resident rolls the dice, and together we add up the total on the dice, and I record it. Then the next resident does the same. We play two or three rounds, and then add up each person's total score. The one with the highest score is declared the High Roller for that day.
Haley 16th Aug 2019 Recreation Therapist And Writer
Haley has submitted a new article: 13 Ways to Incorporate Math Into Your Activity Calendar
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