We are wrapping up math awareness month with some ideas to highlight the math that already exists in our lives. Most people do math on a daily basis without even realizing it! When we are with friends we exchange contact information such as cell phone numbers. We create budgets so that we do not overspend. There are calendars and planners on our desktops that tell us when we need to be somewhere. Dining at a restaurant leaves us calculating tips and taxes. Every day we are faced with math problems to solve. Helping students realize that math is a normal part of life and not just something they learn in school can be beneficial.
One of the best ways to learn is by doing. Textbooks, workbooks, and online classrooms and tutorials provide great resources for learning, but they aren’t the only way a student learns math. You can incorporate math into everyday life and help your student learn without calling it schoolwork. Here are a few activities that provide opportunities to engage your student with math concepts we use on a daily basis:
Whether you are grocery shopping or shopping for a new outfit, it is important to stay within a budget. Have your student keep a running estimated balance and compare it to the balance on your receipt after checkout.
Look for discounts or use coupons. If an item is on sale for 30% off retail price, let your student calculate the sale price for you!
One of the best ways to incorporate math into everyday life is by allowing your child to help you cook. When cooking, it is important to understand numbers, particularly conversions and fractions. Most recipes measure ingredients by teaspoon, tablespoon, ounce, etc. The measurements need to be accurately adjusted if you need to serve several family members or nourish just the two of you. The difference between a delicious and unsuccessful meal can rely on the accuracy of the conversions. Next time you are baking or cooking a big family meal, ask your student to be your sous chef to figure out which of the measuring cups or spoons you will have to use to measure out ingredients or to convert a recipe’s ingredient measurements for a larger or smaller serving size. Your student will use multiplication, division, addition, subtraction, and even fraction skills without ever cracking open a textbook!
Include your student in your next big garden project. Planting a garden of any size requires math. You need to calculate the length and width of your garden as well as the spacing of your plants using measurements in inches, feet, centimeters, meters, etc. These measurements also allow you to have straight rows in your garden. Without accurate measurements, you risk overcrowding your plants and vegetables. For instance, pumpkin and watermelon plants require much more space than broccoli.
- Selling Lemonade
If your children display some entrepreneurial spirit, encourage them to put up a lemonade stand during your next yard sale to apply concepts like supply and demand, or profits and losses. They can even practice with this virtual lemonade stand first!
- Planning a budget
Older children may benefit from helping you to balance your checkbook or calculate the interest they are earning on a savings account. If your teenager is earning money from a part-time job or receiving an allowance, have him or her create a budget for spending some of the money and saving the rest.
Math plays an important role in our daily lives. Adults can help students master the necessary math skills to be successful in life by providing more exposure to math through real-world applications.
So tell us, what’s your formula for highlighting math as part of the daily equation?