Sunday, November 9, 2008

Math field trips

My 15-year-old daughter wants to go clothes shopping, and there are a couple things she wants from a catalog. So, here's the deal ... she can only get things on sale, and she has to figure out what each one will cost:
  • a jean jacket is normally $39.99, but it's 40% off
  • a corduroy jacket is normally $44.99, but it's 30% off
  • a pair of boots are $79.99, but they're 25% off
I've been doing this for years in the grocery store. I have my children figure out which product is cheaper, so they have to do the math to figure out the per-ounce cost. Now, you might say that many stores have this information on the shelf tag, but my children didn't know that when they were younger. :) Also, some stores complicate things by putting the per-ounce price on one item and the per-pound price on a competing product.

Grocery shopping is also a good time to teach rounding. If I'm in a store that accepts cash only, I still have my children keep track of my total. I'm not going to ask them to do the exact math for every single item, so I have them round the prices to the nearest dollar, so they can easily keep track in their heads.

The point is that math in the real world is way more interesting than worksheets. What ideas have worked for your families?

1 comment:

Cathy said...

Really it is difficult for me to even say how or when we use math because it seems to pop up all the time. The other day my son was creating a graph for his writing club and we ended up discussing fractions. The kids will use math when playing online games or with XBOX. Here are some other ways we use math.

Money:
~When the kids want to buy something they usually have to save for it which takes some planning on their part. Many times my son will create charts of how long it will take to save the money.
~Grocery shopping - we discuss prices and sales often. It isn't something I intend to do, they are just always with me and we talk a lot.
~This year I gave my daughter a fixed amount to spend on winter clothes and reminded her of things she may need. She went over the budget by a little bit but paid the additional amount herself.

Cooking:
~Both kids help in the kitchen with measuring ingredients.
~Dividing up food into equal parts.

Legos:
~My son likes to figure out the ratio of the Lego creation to real life
~Patterns, counting, problem solving all go into Lego creations.

Sewing and Woodworking:
~Fractions, measuring, etc.

Things my kids just enjoy doing:
~Floor plans of the house
~Setting timers on watches
~Discussing miles traveled
~Discuss how much money is paid for bills compared to what we make
~Figuring out how much we have spent in a month at Starbucks - this can be scary!