Summer can be a time for students and teachers alike to take a break from the intense lockstep schedule and pressures of the school year and take a breath. We might be outdoors more often, engage in sports or the arts, and generally do things we don't have time for during the school year. It can also be a time to find joy in the life of the mind, without the usual structures, stresses, and constraints that come with days divided into time slots, subjects, and pacing charts. There may be time to discover what thoughts and theories one is curious about, what one likes to learn about, and what ideas are fun to play with. When children play with math, without expectations of demonstrating achievement or competence, they too may find the fun and the beauty in math, as well as a sense of empowerment in doing so. Developing a positive disposition toward math is likely to lead to learning, both in the summer and in the school year to come.
Games are fun. Games are also challenging. Developing a strategy, improving skills, the ups and downs of winning and learning—these all are important components of games. When students engage in mathematical games, many don’t necessarily realize they are doing or learning mathematics but when students practice or apply something they already know or understand, there is growth.