Making math count for youngsters

“Life is like a math equation. In order to gain the most, you have to know how to convert negatives into positives.” — Unknown

Families can use everyday activities to help children prepare for math in school and have a lifelong awareness, understanding, skill and good attitude toward numbers and problem-solving with numbers. Here are a few family activities to begin.

Grocery store math

Grocery shopping is an ideal place to use math skills. Young children can look through grocery ads and learn to read the numbers. They can look for prices of fruits, vegetables nutrition bars, yogurt and other things they like to eat. Point out money signs in the store. You can play grocery store often at home with real or plastic food and play money. Take turns being the cashier.

Review numbers while choosing groceries, looking at prices of apples to reinforce decimals and compare cost of items. While many items no longer have individual sticker prices, there are often signs for sale prices.

With older children, you can teach them to round off numbers and add or multiply. For example, your child can round up to $3 and figure out about how much two cartons would be. Talk about how we arrived at that number. Point out how the estimate differs from the true cost. Estimation is very useful in life.

Cooking math

The kitchen is a great place to practice math, as long as there’s an adult around to supervise. Half and double recipes. Drop dough in 5-by-7 rows on a cookie sheet. What is the total? Count how many pepperonis are on the pizza. If there are three people in your family, divide nine strawberries equally among them. How many strawberries will each person receive?


Show children how to use all the forms of online Google Maps directions and Google Earth. Tap on street view to find their house. Tap on the search icon, navigator wheel and others to explore from your kitchen table. You can even plan local road trips to find waterfalls or look at the depth of the Great Lakes shoreline. Search for free National Geographic geography games for kids. Paper maps work, too.

Change up

Teach children to recognize the value of coins early. They can start a penny collection and read the dates on the coins. They can use pennies to count by ones, nickels to count by fives, and dimes to count by 10s. Four quarters equal a dollar. Do a little at a time.

Put a piece of fruit on the table and teach to count out the price of 45 cents. Start counting with pennies. When they are ready, use other coins.

For more, see grandparents teachtoo.blogspot.com;wnmufm.org/learning through the seasons; Pinterest and Facebook.


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