Wednesday, November 6, 2013

It's a Real Life Math Linky!

It's the first Wednesday of November which means it's time for our new linky - Math IS Real Life. August and September and October were super successful!  We've even created a Pinterest Board of all the posts so that you can look back and find some great ideas and REAL pictures to use in your classroom!  

If you are linking up, please include the below picture AND a link back to all four of our blogs - feel free to use the 2nd image and the links listed below!

A monthly REAL WORLD math blog link-up hosted by


I was thinking hard about what types of real life math experiences I've had over the last month, and there sure have been a lot! The one, however, that I am dealing with right now is all the leftover Halloween candy I keep shoving in my face. This got me to thinking about how many trick-or-treaters we had this year compared to last year and why I ended up with so much extra candy.

When I went shopping for my candy this year, I vaguely remembered thinking that we had about 60 trick-or-treaters the year before. I always let the kids pick two pieces of candy, so I figured I needed about 120 pieces of candy plus the extra that my family needs to eat to give us the energy to open the door all those times all night long. Knowing myself as I do, I decided not to buy any candy until the night before Halloween. Good move, wouldn't you say? I stopped by our local grocery store to check out what kind of deals it had on candy. Different brands were priced differently, and I threw a few bags in my cart from a special display and then headed off to the candy aisle. Here is what I found.

I flipped over the first bag to see how many candy bars were in it, and did a little mental math.

I saw two bars per serving--approximately 7 servings--so I figured about 21 candy bars. Several varieties fit this so I estimated and mentally counted up by 20's as I threw some in the cart.

Something, however, made me flip over one of the bags and I found THIS:

3 bars per serving again (so maybe I didn't have THAT many servings that night . . .) but this kind had 8 servings so 24 in a bag!

I threw a few of those in the cart too and then went back and added again to make sure I was close to my 120 pieces.

I got home, dumped it all in a bin, sampled some to make sure they were all "ok" to pass out, and waited for the 60 witches, vampires, and superheroes.  And waited.  And waited.

28 kids later, trick-or-treating was over and I had a bucketload full of candy left.  It got me to wondering whether I was really off on my estimating.  After thinking about it a little while, I realized that the pouring rain probably had a little something to do with it!  

The result?

Anyway!  It did get me thinking about how much math we do ALL. THE. TIME.  It also reminded me how easy it is to take "real life" math and turn it into problems for kids.  I put some of the above images on a page with the following information for students:

Information we know:
*We estimate we will have 60 trick or treaters
*We give each one two pieces
*There are two prices for bags of candy

*There are different amounts in each bag

I then make a second page of "thinker" questions for students to work on independently or with a team to use the information they "know" to do some problem solving.  I included all sorts of questions like . . . 

1.  About how much money was spent on candy? 

2.  About how many bags were purchased?

3.  About how many pieces of candy were purchased?

4.  Only 28 trick-or-treaters actually came.  What could have happened?

5.  About how many pieces of candy were left?

6.  How many bags SHOULD have been purchased?

7.  Determine the least number of bags needed to get the 120 pieces and prove your thinking.

Anyhoo . . . it's a great way to differentiate, a great way to provide something "extra" for fast finishers, or for all students to see how important math is in the real world!  Think about all the different ways you could snap a few photos and write some applicable math problems!

Have a great Wednesday--and we would LOVE to have you link up if you have any real life math posts!



  1. Next year, come to my house with all your candy! Between the two of us we'll rock out!

    Mathematically yours,
    Jamie aka MissMathDork!

  2. If you had 2 bars in a serving and there were 7 servings, wouldn't that be 14, not 21?