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How to help your child realize the importance of math with real world activities.

Updated: Feb 2, 2023

Too often we hear from our children, "When am I ever going to use this?". Using and applying math is something we do daily without even thinking about it. You can help your child understand how math is all around us. Here are ten real-world math activities you can do with your child and share the importance of numbers in life outside the classroom.

1. Help with the grocery shopping by allowing your child to help you figure out the better value by analyzing the store tags on items.

photo courtesy of SNAP4CT

2. Helping you with a recipe can encourage using fractions. Challenge them to figure out how to double the recipe.

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3. When those aggravating flyers from the local toy store arrive in your mailbox, put them to use by asking your child to add up the costs of their wish list. To challenge them even more, ask them to apply a 20% discount to the total.

4. With all the extra-curricular activities we seem to be adding to our already jam-packed days, have your child create a planner with the times of the day and how long each activity takes. Be sure and have them add in the times for eating, homework, getting ready for bed and sleeping.

photo courtesy of dreamstime

5. Create a "job" list or jar of chores done around the house and assign a cost to each chore. Have your child select 1, 2, or 3 to complete each day/week, etc. Children can log how much they have earned and trade in with your own "home store" for items. This will reinforce using currency, budgeting and planning savings. If you have any extra checkbook registers just sitting around, you could implement these as a way to record incoming and outgoing "money".

6. Is your child interested in building things? Have them measure their room with a tape measure. Have them draw this out on graph paper with the feet and inches noted. Then ask them to measure each of the remaining rooms in your home to draw a floor plan, including the total area of your home.

7. Is your child a nature lover? Ask your child to gather a pinecone, a flower, or a seed head. Ask them to start counting the rows of the pinecone. This is a wonderful way to introduce the Fibonacci Sequence.

(The Fibonacci Sequence is a series of numbers in which each number (Fibonacci number ) is the sum of the two preceding numbers. The simplest is the series 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, etc.)

photo courtesy of Math is Fun

8. Create a grocery store by having your child make out prices for things in your pantry. Have them create a budget on how much they have to spend, and let them "go shopping". Do they have enough? What do they need to put back? This activity reinforces addition and subtraction.

9. For your gaming child, have them keep a log of their experience points, highest scores, or virtual money spent.

10. Keep track of how many pages were read each night; keep a log of how many steps it takes to walk the dog; Keep a nutritional log of what they are eating - calories, total fats, carbs, protein, etc. Isn't this what we are doing with our smart watches?

So, next time you hear your child complain about having to do their math homework and asking when will they ever use it, try a couple of real world math activities.

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