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Undercover calculation

Seven fun ways to work math into your kids' everyday routine.

By Rob Baedeker

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One, two, three strikes, you're out!

Peanuts and popcorn, sure, but math at a ball game? Absolutely! Sports are a numeric gold mine. So when you find yourself watching a game — live or on TV — encourage your children to play with the numbers. Start working out your kids' math muscles by asking them to identify the shape of the soccer field, basketball court, football end zone, or baseball diamond. Then up the math ante by asking, “How many points does the losing team need to catch up?” or “How long does each half or quarter of the game last?” or “How much time is left on the clock?”

Remember: You don't need a live sports match to talk about math. Look at the baseball box scores in the newspaper or basketball statistics online, and ask your children to add up how many hits each player got or the difference between two players' rebounds.

For older kids: Have children who like following the stats do some hard-core (number) crunches with math mind twisters like “What's your batting average if you got 32 hits in 96 at bats?” or “What's your free-throw percentage if you make 15 out of 20 shots?” or "If the football field is 300 feet long and 160 feet wide, what's the total area of the field?"

Rob Baedeker is a writer living in Berkeley, Calif. He is the coauthor, with the Kasper Hauser comedy group, of SkyMaul: Weddings of the Times and Obama's BlackBerry.

Comments from readers

"I play Uno quite a bit with my 5 year-old which has been an excellent way to help her learn to read numbers by matching the symbols on the card."