When my children were babies they loved to sit in the shopping cart and just marvel at the bright colors, shapes and smells at our local grocery store. That phase of wonderment can turn into a shopping nightmare as children age out of wanting to quietly gaze and absorb their surroundings. You can keep little kids and big ones from becoming frustrated bystanders in the produce aisle with these fun grocery store math activities. Turn your weekly grocery store trip into a math scavenger hunt!
We are big “Halloweenies” and love to go trick-or-treating around the neighborhood, but here’s the trick: I’m not a big fan of the treats! After allowing the kids to bargain to keep some of the less offensive sweets, I hide, donate, trade-in, and perform kooky science experiments on the rest of it.
You can also take a bite out of math on Halloween, counting that candy, dividing it into piles and figuring out your average haul per house. Bigger bats and ghouls can explore exponential growth, too!
Before there was Google, there was googol. And, no, a googol is not another incredibly popular search engine. A googol is a number—a really, really big number. Don’t ever expect to count to it or ask your child to do so. Why not? For starters, it would take forever to get there. It’s typically expressed as 10100, but to write it out on paper, you would start with 10 and then write another 100 zeros! Here’s what it looks like: 10000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000.
Rachel Levy, Associate Professor of Mathematics at Harvey Mudd College, agreed to share five thoughts about math with us. She’s the editor in chief of Grandma got STEM (a site dedicated to grandmothers who work or worked in Science, Technology, Engineering or Math), the Interface Compendium of Student Work, and SIURO, an undergraduate applied mathematics research publication, as well as an associate editor of Math Horizons.
The air is getting crisp in many areas and the leaves are quickly changing colors. Families spend a lot of time outside looking at and collecting the beautiful leaves. Why not utilize Mother Nature’s bounty for some math extensions with a creative twist?
As we go about our morning routine each weekday to get ready for school and work, I’m reminded that my children are being exposed to math concepts simply by sticking to their routine. Their morning activities allow them to experience sequencing and order first-hand. The same can be said for much of their day – there’s the morning routine, their school day schedules, our after-school routine, and the evening and bed-time routine. Each was implemented without much thought to how math played a role; our routines came about from a need to plan our days and be on-time. Yet, math is definitely present even in such an everyday occurrence.
No doubt you’ve counted your child’s fingers and toes more times than you can remember. Here’s a fun spin on basic “body math” that teaches the concept of ratios in a fun way using the human body as your guide. All you need is a tape measure, some string or rope, a piece of paper, a pen or pencil, and, of course a few bodies!
From the produce department to the snack food aisle, there’s no shortage of way to engage your kids in math at the grocery store.
– In the produce aisle…
Dan Shapiro is the founder of two software companies, has worked at Microsoft and Google, and is the proud dad of four-year-old boy/girl twins. He’s the creator of Robot Turtles, a tabletop board game that teaches computer programming concepts to kids ages 3-8. Dan uses math as a programmer, a business owner, and as a dad. He generously shared five thoughts about math.
If you hang around the under 5 crowd, you know they don’t have a great grasp of time. Whether it’s rising at 5:30 AM ready to roll for the day or whining in the car, “Are we there yet?” it’s clear their understanding of time is lacking. The Two-Minute Olympics, clocked by a sand-timer, provides a fun way to literally watch the minutes go by and help little ones build an understanding of time.