Sidewalk MathCamp PBS Parents

The dog days of summer call for sunshine and water! I love taking our learning outdoors, and so does my five-year-old. One of her favorite games to play is a simple water balloon tossing game. After writing numbers on the sidewalk with chalk, she throws water balloons at them and adds up her score.

Tossing water balloons at numbers on the sidewalk is not only fun, but it gives her a chance to put her early math skills to the test. Water balloons + sidewalk chalk = math fun!

What You’ll Need

  • sidewalk chalk
  • water balloons (five per player per round)
Sidewalk Math

How to Play

Fill five water balloons for each round, and then grab the chalk to draw the targets. For my five-year-old, we begin with just a few numbers to keep the addition simple. Encourage your preschooler to practice writing numbers 1 through 5 on the sidewalk. Space the numbers out to make it easier to calculate a score when the water balloon hits a number.

Sidewalk Math

You can adapt the game to have the most fun. Write the numbers in a straight line, or randomly on the sidewalk, whichever strikes your child’s fancy.

Now it’s time to start tossing!

After the five balloons are thrown, ask your child to add up the numbers of each target that got a direct hit from a water balloon to calculate the score for the round.

After each round, don’t forget to pick up the balloon pieces on the sidewalk and grass. Start the next round by re-writing the numbers with chalk, filling up more balloons, and toss again. Sometimes my daughter gets more drenched than the sidewalk, making this one of her favorite ways to spend a hot sunny afternoon.

Sidewalk Math

More Ways to Play

  • Older kids can draw targets with numbers that go as high as they want to anywhere on the sidewalk.
  • Instead of adding the score, multiply the numbers for higher-level math.
  • Choose one water balloon color for a double points bonus to practice both multiplication and addition.
  • Choose a different sidewalk chalk color for some numbers. If that number gets wet, subtract it from the score.

More Adventures in Learning

About Kelly Knox

Kelly Knox

Kelly Knox is a content editor at GeekMom, a blog for self-professed geeks and their families. Kelly is also a contributor to local parenting publications in the Seattle area, where she lives with her husband and daughter.

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