Weighing In: Grocery Store Math Games

Here's your nightly math! Just 5 quick minutes of number fun for kids and parents at home. Read a cool fun fact, followed by math riddles at different levels so everyone can jump in. Your kids will love you for it.

Weighing In: Grocery Store Math Games

September 24, 2013

From the produce department to the snack food aisle, there’s no shortage of ways to engage your kids in math fun at the grocery store.

Weigh in

In the produce aisle use the hanging scales to confirm estimates of weight. If you need a pound of apples for a recipe, for example, have your children estimate how many Granny Smiths would make up one pound and then count them into the bag. Take the bag over to the hanging scales and add or remove apples to make 1 pound. Then ask them to use simple subtraction or addition to tell you how many apples are now in the bag.

Apples to Apples

Compare apple varieties and sizes. For example, ask them if they’d need more Honeycrisp apples to make a pound.

If you’ve got a budding economist on your hands, you might discuss the pricing of the various varieties. Why is it that the plain old Red Delicious ones are less expensive than the super sweet apples of the moment, Honeycrisp?

Comparing Apples to Oranges

Now that your child knows what one pound of Granny Smith apples looks like, see how that compares in volume to a pound of grapes or blueberries and so on.

You can replicate the game of weights and estimates in the bulk food aisle, just maybe not all on the same shopping trip.

Bake up some Math

Head toward the baking ingredients aisle where they can experience heavier weights. Have them hold that 2 pound bag of sugar and then move on to a 5 pound bag of flour. Try the 10-pounder if your store sells them.

Chances are your child weighed between five and ten pounds when she was born. Find package or combination of packages that roughly equals her birth weight and see if she’s strong enough to hold it.

You can do Math

Head to the canned food aisle and show her the difference between a 28-ounce can of tomato sauce and a 15-ounce can. Look at the price of both and discuss the best value. This is a tough concept for kids because of course the item with the lowest price is the best deal, right? The larger can may cost more, but you may pay a lower price per ounce. Some stores mark the price per ounce on the shelf tags, making it easy to compare. To figure this out on your own, divide the price by the number of ounces in the can. In the case of the 28-ounce can, the cost might $1.68 divided by 28 ounces or $.06 an ounce. No shame in using a calculator here.

Tell us! What are your favorite tips for keeping the little ones occupied during a shopping trip?

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About the Author

Jeanne Bernish

Jeanne is an experienced mom who considers herself a "math-not," but has raised two math-loving teenagers. She works in the ed-tech sector and blogs now and then at Race to the Middle.

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