Are We There Yet? Six Ideas to Turn Memorial Day Weekend Travel into a Math Teaching Opportunity

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Whizz Education recommends ideas for parents to make a long car trip a meaningful math experience.

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Are we there yet? Children are notorious for pestering their parents with this question during long road trips in the car. How can parents get children to stop asking that question and to start learning math instead this Memorial Day weekend? Respond by giving them the encouragement and information they need to estimate the family's time of arrival on their own, according to Kevin Judd, former math teacher and Curriculum Director who is Vice President of Whizz Education, creator of the award-winning, online math tutor, Math-Whizz. According to Judd, holiday road-trips are ripe with fun opportunities to teach elementary children addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and estimation.

Following are additional ideas for parents to turn a long trip in the car this weekend into a math teaching opportunity that will inspire a love of learning math for a lifetime:

Count the Cars
Choose a unique color for a car, such as yellow or green, and ask children to keep a tally of how many cars that color they see during specific legs of the trip. As reward, let them pick out a treat during the next convenience store stop that is the same color.

Spark Learning with Gas Math
How much money will it take to fill up the tank? How many times will the tank need to be filled up based on the distance that will be traveled? How much money will the family spend on gas over the course of the trip? Would it be cheaper to fly? How many miles did the gas likely have to travel to reach the station? As the gas flows, so do the opportunities to teach children math.

Ponder the Mathematical Possibilities of License Plates:
Designate one number during each hour of the trip that is the magical license plate number and ask children to add, subtract, multiply or divide numbers on license plates to reach the number of the hour. For example, say the magical number is 21. A 7 and 3 in a license plate can be multiplied to reach 21.

Spot Mathematically Interesting Road Signs
Encourage children to hunt for mathematically significant road signs. One example is where the distance to the next two towns can be added or multiplied to get the distance of the third town listed on the sign.

Size-up Your Ride
Research the weight of the make and model of the family car ahead of the road trip and get your children to guess the amount. Tell them how close they came to the actual weight.

About Whizz Education
Whizz Education, Inc., creator of the award-winning, online math tutoring program, Math-Whizz, is the leading provider of dynamic online math instruction and instructional resources for grades K-8. Whizz Education’s personalized, interactive and collaborative approach to teaching math is raising math achievement for thousands of students in over 40 countries. By engaging students in entertaining challenges, individualizing the curriculum for each student, and involving teachers and parents in the process, Math-Whizz is changing the math education equation. For more information about Whizz Education, Inc. and the Math-Whizz suite of services, visit

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Kate Vincent
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