

Helping Your Child Learn Math  June
1999
Activities
The grocery store is one of the best examples of a place
where math is real. It's a great place for practicing measurement, estimation,
and quantity. Since trips to the store usually affect everyone in the
family, the following activities include various levels of difficulty
within the activity.
Allowing your children to participate in weighing, counting,
and figuring price per unit versus price per pound will help improve their
ability to estimate and predict amounts with accuracy.
Get Ready
Grades K2
What you'll need
Grocery store coupons and paper
What to do
 Involve the family in making a shopping list. Mark checks or tallies
next to each item to indicate the number needed. This helps children
learn to collect data.
 Involve the children in predicting how much milk or juice will be
needed for a week. You might decide to estimate by cups, explaining
that 4 cups are equal to a quart and 4 quarts are equal to a gallon.
Also, try estimating by liters. How does a liter compare to a gallon?
 Choose coupons that match the items on the grocery list. Discuss
how much money will be saved on various items by using coupons.
Parent Pointer 

Preparing a shopping list from advertised prices
can help children with mental math and estimation. 
[Back to top]
Weighing
In
Grades 35
What you'll need
A grocery scale or your scale at home
What to do
 Help your child examine the scale in the grocery store or the one
you have at home. Explain that pounds are divided into smaller parts
called ounces and 16 ounces equal a pound.
 Gather the produce you are purchasing, and estimate the weight of
each item before weighing it. If you need 1 pound of grapes, ask your
child to place the first bunch of grapes on the weighing scale, and
then estimate how many more or fewer grapes are needed to make exactly
1 pound.
 Let your child hold an item in each hand and guess which item weighs
more. Then use the scale to check.
 Ask questions to encourage thinking about measurement and estimation.
You might want to ask your child: How much do you think 6 apples will
weigh? More than a pound, less than a pound, or equal to a pound? How
much do the apples really weigh? Do they weigh more or less than you
estimated? Will 6 potatoes weigh more or less than the apples? How much
do potatoes cost per pound? If they cost 10 cents per pound, what is
the total cost?
 Try weighing items using the metric system. How many grams does an
apple weigh? How many kilograms does a sack of potatoes weigh? How does
a kilogram compare to a pound?
Let your child experiment with the store scale by weighing
different products.
Parent Pointer 

There are many opportunities to increase estimation
and measurement skills by weighing objects in the produce section
of the grocery store. 
Get
into Shapes
Grades 24
What to do
 Show your child the pictures of the shapes on this page (cone, cylinder,
square boxes, and rectangular prism) before going to the store. This
will help your child identify them when you get to the store.
 At the store, ask your child questions to generate interest in the
shapes. Which items are solid? Which are flat? Which shapes have flat
sides? Which have circles for faces? Which have rectangles? Do any have
points at the top?
 Point out shapes and talk about their qualities and their use in
daily life. Look to see what shapes stack easily. Why do they? Try to
find some cones. How many can you find? Look for stacks that look like
a pyramid. Determine which solids take up a lot of space and which ones
stack well. Discuss why space is important to the grocer and why the
grocer cares about what stacks well. (More space allows for more products
to be stored.)
Parent Pointer 

Recognizing the different shapes that food is packaged in, such
as square boxes, rectangular boxes, cones, and cylinders, will help
children connect math and volume principles to the real world. 
Check It Out
Grades 23
What you'll need
Money
What to do
 Have your child estimate the total price of items in a shopping cart.
An easy way to estimate totals is to assign an average price to each
item. If you have 10 items and the average price for each item is $2,
the total price estimate would be about $20.
 Using the estimated total, ask your child: If I have 10 onedollar
bills, how many ones will I have to give the clerk? If I have a 20dollar
bill, how much change should I receive? If I get coins back, what coins
will I get?
 At the checkout counter, what is the actual cost? How does this compare
to your estimate? When you pay for the items, will you get change back?
 Count the change with your child to make sure the change is correct.
Parent Pointer 

Help your child use mental math by estimating cost.
Then have your child participate in the checkout process where the
total is added up, money is exchanged, and change is returned. 
It's in the Bag
Grades K4
What to do
 After getting home from grocery shopping, have your child guess how
many objects there are in a bag. Ask: Is it full? Could it hold more?
Could it tear if you put more in it? Are there more things in another
bag of the same size? Why do some bags hold more or less than others?
 Put several 1pound items in a bag. Let your child pick it up. Estimate
the weight and then count the items. Was your estimate close or not?
 Estimate the weight of the bag of groceries. Does it weigh 5 pounds,
10 pounds, or more? How can you check your estimate? Now, compare one
bag to another. Which is lighter or heavier? Why?
Parent Pointer 

Explore ways to estimate volume and weight by looking
in the bag and feeling how much it weighs. Compare it to a known weight
(such as a 5pound bag of sugar). 
Put It Away
Grades K1
What you'll need
Paper, pencil, ruler, and computer
What to do
 After getting home from grocery shopping, find one characteristic
that is the same for some of the products. For example, some are boxes
and some are cans.
 Put together all the items that have the same characteristic.
 Find another way to group these items.
 Continue sorting, finding as many different ways to group the items
as you can.
 Play "Guess My Rule." In this game, you sort the items
and ask your child to guess your rule for sorting them. Then, reverse
roles and let your child sort the items so that you can guess their
rule.
 Using paper, pencil, ruler, and computer, make a chart of how many
items are in each category.
Parent Pointer 

Putting away groceries helps children develop classifying
and reasoning skills and the ability to examine data or information.

[Math
in the Home]
[Math
on the Go] 

