As families head full steam into summer, many parents will be looking for ways to keep their children engaged academically whether to stop “summer slide,” provide extra support, or move ahead. While the focus over the summer has typically been on reading, a group of math educators from McAuliffe International School want to keep students’ math skills sharp as well.
To that end, teachers Nikki Steffen, Dusty Starr, and Katherine Kopp started Mathbox. Their company’s aim is to keep kids immersed in mathematics throughout the summer months. The kits, which are available for students in grades kindergarten through 6, are specifically designed to help kids practice, learn, and love math.
“Each year, students come in at a lower place than they left,” said Kopp. “One of our big goals is to help avoid that summer slide.”
Combined, Steffen, Starr, and Kopp have almost 50 years teaching experience and have taught kindergarten through eighth grade. They began working on their unique business idea prior to the teachers’ strike earlier this year. “Veteran DPS teachers were literally taking steps backward in pay,” noted Steffen. “We wanted to find another avenue to earn extra money using our expertise.” The team worked nights and weekends to put together their “passion project.”
Each Mathbox includes a literature component and hands-on learning tools—and all promote higher-level thinking skills rather than rote drills. Their goal is to help students, especially girls, feel more confident in math and show them how much math they use in their daily lives. The group worked diligently to design activities that not only promote grade-level standards, but that appeal to children and their parents.
The teachers say lessons are meaningful and engaging. Each kit includes things kids want to do, such as games, crafts, scavenger hunts, and recipes. Kids can complete the activities more than once for extra practice.
“We were very intentional as we developed the activities,” added Starr. “We want parents and kids to be able to complete them with little to no preparation, using materials from the box or things they most likely already have around the house.”
“We’ve developed a one-stop shop to help parents know how to talk about math more, how to incorporate more math into their everyday lives,” said Steffen. “We want to build kids’ confidence and show them math can be fun.”
Mathbox kits are available online at https://mymathbox.com. Prices start at $34.95 for a two-book activity package. Three- and five-book packages are also available.