Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Real World Math Fun!

As we wrapped up our unit on addition skills, I thought it would be fun to let my students explore some "real world" spending!  Our math series suggested giving students a $1,000 budget where they needed to buy 3 electronics items for the family.  I sent a note out ahead of time asking families to save their electronics ads, and we gathered quite a collection!

I gave the students the prompt and asked them to glue it into their math notebooks.

I reminded students to try to keep their work organized as they worked! 

In addition to simply SPENDING the money, I asked them to organize their work into a table and to be ready to determine exactly how close to $1,000 they could get (Differentiation time--not all students needed to do was presented as an "extra" which students do if they get the main part of the problem finished.)  The students were super motivated and got right to work!

Some students worked alone while others teamed up--and it quickly became clear that some of my more capable math students were going to solve this one relatively quickly!

I sat down at the computer and printed off a few more challenges for them . . . tasks such as:

"Find 4 items that total between $650 and $800."


"Find 2 items that total between $1,000 and $1,100."

The students quickly started using their estimation strategies to jot down product ideas and it was so much fun listening to their discussions and/or arguments about strategies!  One team decided that the smaller the range of numbers, the more challenging the task was.  Another team used one item (a TV) as a constant ($400) and sought out other products that added up to the rest of the total. After each task I did require them to "prove" their work and be ready to explain their thinking.  We "shopped" for more than an hour, and their independence during this time allowed me to pull a few small groups for some review work as we prepared for our summative assessment.  All in all, the students had a great time, practiced their math skills, and did some "real world" application along the way!


  1. I love this activity! I'm always on the lookout for real world math...especially when it involves estimation! Some kids really struggle to see the value in estimating, so this is great. Thanks for sharing!

    One Lesson at a Time

  2. I do an activity similar to this at Thanksgiving time using grocery ads. They have $100 to plan a Thanksgiving dinner for a certain number of people. They love it! You can also use Black Friday ads before Christmas to plan Christmas shopping for a family with a certain number of adults and kids or their own family. Fun!