Use Sports to Teach Math

use sports to teach math

Mike and I discovered last fall that our kids love sports games, and we have been taking the kids to games on Stanford’s campus every since. I’m doing my best to make up for the fact that when I was in college myself I spent all of my free time working part time jobs instead of going to games. College campuses often host athletics events that won’t get much of a turn out, so tickets are free and parking is easy (very much not the case with games that get great turnouts!) Saturday we went to a volleyball game (Stanford wasn’t even playing, because we got the time wrong, but two UCLA and Pennsylvania proved highly interesting to watch), and I was amazed at how easy it was to use sports to teach math to the kids while we watched!

Counting in Sports

This is very elementary mathematics, of course, but there is a lot of counting in sports! You can count fouls, players, points, and time outs. Count UP for points, and count down how many minutes are left in the game (or time out).

Fractions in Sports

Team games are divided into innings, sets, quarters, etc. This is a great chance for kids to learn about fractions and to experience them in real time! Fields are also frequently divided into fractions.

Geometry in Sports

Sports use a lot of geometry! You can talk to your kids about what angle the players need to kick or hit the ball, as well as the different shapes of the fields and the shapes of the lines on the fields. Why are different sports fields shaped differently?

Follow-Up Activities

If you are looking for structured math activities that tie into sports, Deceptively Educational has a fun Fridge Football Subtraction Scrimmage Game, and Boy Mama Teacher Mama has a Football Math Fact Game. Once you have your little sports enthusiast hooked on math, check out 100 Ways to Make Math Fun at Home from Planet Smarty Pants !

 

MaryAnne lives in Silicon Valley with her Stanford professor husband Mike and their four children. She writes about parenting through education, creativity, and play. Mama Smiles - Joyful Parenting is a space to share crafts, hands on learning activities, and family outings that enrich lives and bring families together.

20 thoughts on “Use Sports to Teach Math”

  1. Our oldest son loves sports and math so it’s a natural to pair the two. You’ve given me some good inspiration for new ways to encourage critical thinking and calculations during games, though! Thanks for sharing our football subtraction game!

  2. Funny, we are focusing on math as well this week. Letting the kiddos pose their own math questions and turning them loose to find a solution. Your sports math would fit right in!

    I had a similar college experience. I attended Texas A&M where football is a BIG TIME tradition. However, I spent all of my time working and studying. There was not much time left over for enjoying sports. It’s nice that you are getting a chance to enjoy that experience now with your children. I love watching volleyball. (Not so good at the playing.)

    1. I’m not very good at sports, either, but I enjoy watching other people play (and playing myself, so long as the people I play with aren’t annoyed by my lack of athleticism!)

  3. We have a local college that I keep telling my hubby we need to visit more often at the games, now there’s even a better reason why to learn MATH. Thanks for sharing.

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