Integrating Math in Everyday Life

Learning math is often associated with solving problems and finding the right answer in homework and tests, often a tough and frustrating process for some, and irrelevant for everyday life to most.  We have all encountered the very funny memes around tax time about trigonometry or algebra, which does not provide enough knowledge to fill out our tax forms. 

However, math is inarguably an essential part of our life, as it is something we use every day. Learning how to apply math to our everyday life is not only practical and helpful, but can also be fun and interesting. We use math to make the right decisions and in doing many of our daily tasks. This practicality and interest is something we should pass on to our learners to make math more meaningful for them. There are many ways we can integrate math into our everyday life, and today we are sharing a few with you:

  1.     Take your learner to Supermarkets & Stores

Browsing and buying items in supermarkets, shops, and restaurants are excellent locations to apply math skills. Learners from all ages can practice estimating, comparing, measuring, using money, and doing computations.

In the produce section, they can estimate and compare weights of fruits and vegetables, as well as test their estimation on the weighing scale. They can also calculate how much they need to pay for fruits or vegetables per piece or per unit of measurement (such as per pound or kilogram).

Moreover, they can compare costs of items of different brands and apply percentages in calculating discount prices and coupons to determine which purchases would be a better deal for money. They can even practice computing the total cost of items and the change they will get from the cashier.

Some key questions you may ask your learner:

  •         Which option is the least expensive?
  •         How much is the price per unit if 6 bottles of pop cost $4.49?
  •         How much less would you have to pay for if you include the discount?
  •         Which checkout line would be the fastest?
  •         How much is your total bill? How much will be your change?
  1.     Spend time Budgeting for something they are looking forward to

Whether it’s making a budget plan for a specific event, toy, project or even budgeting their allowance, teaching learners how to manage their money is an important life skill that is especially useful when they transition into their teens and adulthood. Some research points out that there are many lifelong benefits in starting young and providing learning opportunities in financial literacy. Habits like planning ahead and understanding the value of money and hard work can be established even with younger elementary students.

Some key questions you may ask your learner:

  •         How much do you need to spend?
  •         What is the best way to make the most out of your budget?
  •         How much should you save?
  •         What is the difference between your income and expenses?
  1.     Let them help you cook and bake

Math is often used in every kitchen and every recipe we follow with measurements, conversions, timing, and costs. Involving learners in meal preparation is a fun and engaging way to apply math, not to mention the quality time. 

In following some recipes, we may need to convert temperatures from Celsius to Fahrenheit or vice versa, or we may need to convert sizes and amounts. For example, if an ingredient in a recipe is labeled in cups and the measuring cup you have available is in milliliters, how will we know how much to put? Furthermore, knowledge on fractions and operations will help in determining how much we need to add to make more batches than the recipe calls for. For instance, if ½ cup of sugar is needed for a dozen cookies, how much would we need if we double the recipe?

Time is another concept that is always integrating in cooking and baking. A lot of time, the weight of food also affects how much time it needs to cook. Younger learners can learn how to tell time, estimate, and calculate elapsed time while helping in the kitchen.

Another important math application is knowing the cost of a dish or treat. Students can learn how to compare which recipes are more expensive to make, how much it would cost if they decided to sell what they made and estimate how much they need if they need to double or triple the recipe.

Some key questions you may ask your learner:

  •         Which recipe is less expensive to make?
  •         How much more ingredients will you need if you double the recipe?
  •         What is the cost of ingredients?
  •         What time will you finish preparing this dish?

Combine these three tips and you have a whole math unit that includes money, estimates, fractions, measuring, and basic math operations. 

  1.     Playing Video Games

Students love video games and there are many games available online that teach mathematical concepts and operations across grade levels. However, there are also a lot of video games that may not be highly academic but also involve using math skills like problem solving and analytical thinking. Games with statistics and strategic decision making provide learners an opportunity to practice analysing and applying these skills. There are also games that have developed a currency, whether it is money, number of hearts, stars or the like, which are accumulated based on performance and that allow players to purchase features to help them in the game. 

Some key questions you may ask your learner:

  •         What do you need to consider in choosing a character/added feature?
  •         What is the best way to earn more points in the shortest amount of time possible?
  •         What is your goal and strategy?
  1.     Doing Crafts or Small Workshop Projects

Making crafts or workshop projects can involve a lot of math and geometry. Concepts like shapes, symmetry, patterns, proportion, and measurement are some of those that can be applied while getting creative with our learners. In the process, they can also practice using measuring tools such as rulers, compasses, and protractors. There are hundreds of projects that can be explored from simple ones like gift wrapping to more elaborate ones like origami (the Japanese art of paper folding) and DIY home projects in which math can be naturally integrated.

Some key questions you may ask your learner?

  •         Do you have enough materials for your project?
  •         What measurements do you need for certain materials?
  1.     Traveling

Family trips are an excellent opportunity to engage learners in math. Not only can they practice a variety of skills, it is also a way to make math a fun and positive experience. What better reward than contributing to a fun adventure? From planning out the budget, mapping the routes to take, and even calculating the amount of fuel needed for long drives, learners can practice math skills and be excited to be part of the planning. 

Some key questions you may ask your learner?

  •         What is the shortest way to get to our destination?
  •         How much do we need for fuel?
  •         What is our estimated time of arrival if we traveled at x kilometers per hour?

Learning math meaningfully is about connecting the academic concepts to real life situations and applying them practically. When students see these connections and use math to solve problems, they become more adept in using math as a tool to help them succeed in their daily tasks and make decisions in their daily life. By making math a part of our daily routine and teaching it in a way that makes it relevant to the real world, we can help our learners develop a lifelong appreciation for math and its applications.

If your learner needs more support, you can always check out our classes and tutoring options

Northern Lights Academy Team