The grocery store is a math lover’s paradise. From price comparison and budgeting to converting recipe amounts to the quantity you see on the shelf, it helps to be able to do some quick math while shopping.
This is true for children as well! Think of each trip to the grocery store as an opportunity to practice math. Young children can work on number recognition and quantity, while older children can help you compare prices or be in charge of your grocery budget.
Here are a few tips to try on your next grocery outing:
- Recognize numbers and the corresponding quantity. For example, “We have apples on our list, how many apples do we need?” Your child’s first task is to recognize the number from your shopping list, then count out the appropriate amount. This can be a challenge for a young child who can perhaps count from 1 to 10 but is still working on understanding that each number corresponds to a specific quantity.
- Weigh your fresh produce for simple comparison. Let’s say you have 3 apples and 2 potatoes in your shopping cart. Use the scale at the grocery store to practice comparisons using terminology like “heavier” and “lighter.” First have a conversation with your child, “What do you think is heavier, one apple or one potato?” Weight the items and check it out. Keep changing the quantities in your scale and let your child tell you what is heavier.
- Stick to a budget. For the sake of letting your child practice simple subtraction, go to the store with a set amount of money, say $100. Have a grocery list handy as well. Every time you cross off an item on your list, make note of how much it costs. Subtract that amount (or a rounded amount) from your budget of $100.
- Compare prices. Plenty of grocery stores have sales that involve a lowered price if you buy more than one item. For example, buy 2 boxes of cereal for $5 compared to one box for $3. Let your child do the math on how much money you save. Or for younger children, simply communicate what you see and practice “more or less” comparisons. For example, “This box of cereal is $4 and this box is $3. Which one is more money?”
- Plan a recipe. Before heading to the grocery store, pick out a recipe your family wants to make. Write down the quantities you’ll need for the recipe, for example, 1 cup of walnuts. When you’re at the store, try to buy only the quantities of ingredients you’ll need. This requires some math that might switch from ounces to cups or grams to kilograms. Work through it with your child with some assistance from a converter if necessary!
These math activities at the grocery store will grow with your child. Your child will love being involved, and this early practice will help them later in life when they need to shop for themselves!
If you’re not able to make it to the grocery store soon but still want to incorporate more math practice at home, try Intro to Math by Montessorium on the App Store.
It’s based on the Montessori method of teaching number recognition and early numeracy which you can then practice during your next visit to the grocery store.
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