Making math count for youngsters

Sabin, Davis, Hetrick, Anderegg, Macalady, Walker, Darling and Katers

Life is like a math equation. In order to gain the most, you have to know how to convert negatives into positives-unknown

Families can use everyday activities to help children prepare for math in school and have a life- long awareness, understanding, skill and good attitude toward numbers and problem solving with numbers. Here are a few family activities to begin.

Grocery store math

Grocery shopping is an ideal place to use math skills. Young children can look through grocery ads and learn to read the numbers. They can look for prices of fruits, vegetables nutrition bars, yogurt, and other things they like to eat. Point out money signs in the store. You can play grocery store often at home with real or plastic food and play money. Take turns being the cashier.

Review numbers while choosing groceries looking at prices of apples to reinforce decimals and compare cost of items. While many items no longer have individual sticker prices, there are often signs for sale prices.

With older children you can teach them to round off numbers and add or multiply. For example, your child can round up to $3.00 and figure out about how much two cartons would be. Talk about how we arrived at that number. Point out how the estimate differs from the true cost. Estimation is very useful in life.

Cooking math

The kitchen is a great place to practice math, as long as, there’s an adult around to supervise. Half and double recipes. Drop dough 5×7 on a cookie sheet. What is the total? Count how many pepperonis are on the pizza? If there are three people in your family divide nine strawberries equally among them. How many strawberries will each person receive?


Show children how to use all the forms of on-line Google maps directions, and Google earth. Tap on street view to find their house. Tap on the search icon, navigator wheel and others to explore from your kitchen table. You can even plan local road trips to find water falls or look at the depth of the Great Lakes shoreline. Search for free National Geographic geography games for kids. Paper maps work, too.

Change up

Teach children to recognize the value of coins early. They can start a penny collection and read the dates on the coins. They can use pennies to count by ones, nickels to count by fives, and dimes to count by tens. Four quarters equal a dollar. Do a little at a time.

Put a piece of fruit on the table and teach to count out the price of 45 cents. Start counting with pennies. When they are ready use other coins. For more see grandparents teachtoo.blogspot.com; wnmufm.org/learning through the seasons; Pinterest and Facebook.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Grandparents Teach, Too is a non-profit organization of elementary and preschool teachers from Marquette, Michigan. The writers include: Jan Sabin, Mary Davis, Jean Hetrick, Cheryl Anderegg, Esther Macalady, Colleen Walker, Fran Darling, and Iris Katers. Their mission since 2009 is to help parents, grandparents, and other caregivers of young children provide fun activities to help prepare young children for school and a life long love of learning. They are supported by Great Start, Parent Awareness of Michigan, the U.P. Association for the Education of Young Children, Northern Michigan School of Education, the U.P. Children’s Museum and the Northern Michigan University Center for Economic Education.


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