Life Skills is something that many parents teach their children. It helps them navigate through the real world. Incorporating math in life skill lessons is important because it helps people, including children, to describe how the world works.
For example, a child knows that if he/she has one cookie and their sibling has two cookies then there is a difference. If a child has played with a toy for 5 minutes and another child played with it for 15 minutes, they can feel the discrepancy.
In the examples above, children are using mathematics on deciding how they should feel about certain situations. As adults, let’s encourage and foster their learning by building on their knowledge of using everyday math.
These activities below will show you how to do it in a fun way with your children!
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Let Get started!
Everyday Math at the Grocery Store
- Take your child with you to the grocery store.
- Have the child pick a food item they would like to pay for.
- It could be their favorite food to eat such as apple sauce.
- Give the child more than enough money to pay for the item they choose.
- Account for taxes
- If the apple sauce costs $2.00, give them $4.00.
- Ensure the child gets the correct change back.
- Explain to the child that food costs money.
- The extra money added on to the prices is for taxes which helps pay for schools, roads, and parks.
- Explain how you got the money by going to work, starting a business, etc.
- Repeat this activity and incorporate more food items.
- Once your child is able, have them calculate their change.
- They can also calculate how much money is needed to pay for the item.
Everyday Math in the Kitchen
- Find a recipe, such as brownies or cookies, that uses measurements such as teaspoons, tablespoons, and cups (or any measurement you use for cooking).
- Have measuring spoons and cups available to represent the teaspoons, tablespoons, ounces and cups.
- Have the recipe and ingredients available.
- Make the baked goods with the child.
- Discuss the difference between 1/2 and a full cup (use the equivalencies below to help with the explanation).
- Put a 1/2 cup of flour in 1 cup to show that it only fills up 1/2 the cup.
- Explain the difference between tablespoons and teaspoons (use the equivalencies below to help with the explanation).
- Put 3 teaspoons of flour in 1 tablespoon to show that 1 tablespoon is 3 times 1 teaspoon.
- Compare other measurements based on the chart below.
- 1 tablespoon (tbsp.) = 3 teaspoons (tsp.) = 1/2 fluid ounce (fl.oz.) = 1/16 cup
- 1 cup = 8 fl.oz.
- 1 pint (pt.) = 2 cups = 16 fl. oz.
- 1 quart (qt.) = 2 pt. = 4 cups = 32 fl. oz.
- 1 pound (lb.) = 16 ounces (oz.)
Everyday Math While You Take a Trip
Has your child ever asked you “Are we there yet” while taking a trip? Use everyday math to answer this question.
There are two ways to do this. One way is with time.
- Let’s say your family takes a trip that will last one hour (60 minutes) to get to your destination.
- Just before leaving for your trip, show your child the time.
- Let’s say you are leaving at 4:00pm.
- Tell your child, you will get to your destination when the 4 turns into a 5, which is 5:00pm.
- Check in with your child every 10 minutes and do a countdown.
- For example, at 4:10pm tell your child you have 50 minutes to go.
- At 4:20pm tell your child you have 40 minutes to go.
- You can also do this every 15 or 20 minutes if you like.
- This helps to decrease the constant asking of “Are we there yet?”
- If you stop to use the restroom, explain to your child that this will add time on to the trip.
Another Way to do this is with Landmarks
- Let’s say you are driving on the Interstate and you are on Exit 1 but your destination is near Exit 20.
- Tell your child when you get to Exit 20, you will be at your destination.
- Pinpoint every 2 or 5 exits until you reach the end of your trip.
- Have your child identify the Exit Numbers.
- For example, ask your child to tell you when you have reached Exit 4 and then Exit 6.
- You have just created an important task for your child.
- They are helping you navigate and they can sense how long the trip will be.
- This is also helping with number recognition!
Everyday Math while at Home
Introduce your child to Mortgage or Rent Payment with this activity.
- Explain to your child that your house or apartment costs money.
- People who live in an apartment pay Rent to the owner of the building called the Landlord.
- People who own their home, usually get a loan from the bank and pay the bank back with Interest.
- You can skip steps 2 and 3 if you think this is too advanced for your child.
- Your child is going to pay you rent at the first of each month with play money for their bedroom or any other room in your home.
- If you want to get technical, calculate how much your child’s room is worth with the formula below.
- Get a percentage of your child’s room by dividing your child’s room square footage by the apartment or home’s square footage.
- For example, if your home is 1,200 square feet and your child’s bedroom is 200 square feet, then their bedroom takes up 16 percent of the home.
- Now calculate how much of the rent your child’s room represents.
- If your mortgage is $1600 a month, then your child’s rent would be $256 (which is 16% of $1600.
- If you don’t want to get too technical, then come up with a simple figure, like $100, that your child can pay you each month for rent.
- You can even have them earn play money daily by doing the following…
- Pay them a certain amount each day for cleaning up or following the rules.
- This money can be used to pay their rent.
I hope you and your child enjoy these simple activities!
A great resource for similar activities is The Everything Everyday Math Book: From Tipping To Taxes, All the Real-World, Everyday Math Skills You Need by Christopher Monahan
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14 thoughts on “Fun In Teaching Young Kids Real World Math”
What a great list. I hadn’t thought of some of these everyday math opportunities to use with my kids, so I’ll be adding them on to what we already do. Numeracy is so important in life.
Oh wonderful! Thank you for your comment. I hope your kids enjoys this activity!
My son loves math so we already did a few of these, but will add more to our list, so thank you for this!
Oh that is great! I hope your son enjoys the activities.
These are great suggestions, I never thought of teaching math by helping them calculate the percentage of rent that their room is. That’s a great idea!
Thank you Shayla for your comment!
Great article! So many kids don’t have these essential skills, these are some great tips to teach at an early age!
Thank you Kate for your comment! We had fun doing these activities!
This is great! Kids will enjoy these ideas a lot. Thank you for sharing!
Thank you for your comment. I like doing these types of activities because they are fun and kids are learning at the same time.
great ideas. Im going to try some out.
Thank you Robert for your comment. I hope your children enjoy these activities!
These are such good suggestions. I like maths and want to bring up my daughters to enjoy it too. It is such a valuable skill in all walks of life. I especially like the baking math exercise as I can start that now with my daughter who is only two to help her understand half, full, etc…
Cooking with kids is so fun! I hope your daughter enjoys cooking. Thank you for commenting!