Kids love playing in water and taking a break from schoolwork over the summer, but they still need to keep their multiplication skills sharp. If only there were multiplication games that combine the two …

Sneaking some math into fun summertime activities is a great way to help combat the summer slide that robs the average student of a couple months of the knowledge learned during the school year. Multiplication games are great for second, third, and fourth graders. The math may not be too advanced, but reinforcement of multiplication tables in the form of a game may be better embraced by your kids than doing flash cards indoors. Put on your swimsuits, because here are some pool-based multiplication games that will sharpen math skills and cool you off:

**Buckets**

You will need several buckets, plastic cups, and other containers of various sizes for this game. A measuring cup will help as well so you can get an idea how much water each non-bucket container can hold. Take a cup, and estimate how many of it will be needed to fill a bucket. If you know the size of the container, ask your child to do the math (e.g., “This pitcher holds 32 ounces of water; if you add 4 pitchers to the bucket, how much water are you adding?”). There are two ways to play this game. In the first, the buckets are on the ground for the guesser to fill. While in the second the guesser must sit down and hold the bucket over his head while others fill the bucket based off of his guess; the goal is to get as close to the brim without spilling over and drenching the guesser. You might have to hold the bucket if it gets too heavy, or you can prop the bucket over your own head—but don’t be too surprised if your children overestimate just to get you soaked …

**Dive Toys**

Some dive toys, such as rings and sticks, include numbers printed on them; if yours don’t, you can simply use a marker to write digits. Throw the toys in the water, and challenge your kids to dive for two before coming up for air. Multiply the numbers, and the child with the highest result wins that round. Don’t be afraid to write larger numbers than simply 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

**Water Balloon Attack**

If you don’t have a fence or outside wall that you are willing to temporarily chalk up, you can simply use sheets of paper with written numbers for this game. Fill up a bunch of water balloons, and write or tape about 20 two-digit numbers onto the wall or fence. Each player holds a water balloon. You ask a multiplication problem to the group. A right answer means that player can throw the balloon at the corresponding number on the wall. A wrong answer means the other kids can throw their balloons at the incorrect player.

**Soak Counting**

An oscillating sprinkler works best for this game, but anything that sprays water will suffice. Give your child a number, and she must jump back and forth over the sprinkler while skip counting to 100. Each multiple is one jump. Smaller numbers will be easier to compute but will result in more skips through the chilly sprinkler. Larger numbers will be trickier but result in fewer jumps. Either way, your kids will cool off, they will practice some math, and your lawn will get a good watering.

What multiplication games have you tried with your family?