Looking for a way to make math matter to your fifth grader? Here's an activity that will get your child's attention with a back-to-school shopping spree. The catch? He'll have to use decimal skills to add, subtract, multiply, and divide his way to a new wardrobe! This activity can easily be substituted with restaurant take-out menus, grocery coupons, or any kind of catalog, for year-round math practice that will add up!
What You Do:
- Read through the catalogs together with your child. Point out items you know your child will like and build up the excitement about the things that are on sale.
- Tell your child that he can shop for his own clothes this year, but only if he stays within a certain budget. Give him the number that represents the limit of his budget, and tell him to get calculatin'! He'll need to use addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and pay attention to place value to get the most out of his back to school budget.
Addition To add up the items that he is considering buying, your child should line up all the decimal points in order to correctly compute the total cost. For example: $29.99 $45.00 +$14.99 $89.98
Subtraction To find out how much money is still left in the budget, your child will have to subtract what he has already planned to spend from the total budget. As with addition, he should first line up the decimal points before solving the subtraction problem. For example: $100.00 - $89.98 $10.02
Multiplication Does your child want to get more than one of the same item? Your child should solve multiplication with decimal problems in the same manner that he normally solves multiplication problems, but must remember to move the decimal point over in his answer as many places as are in the problem. For example: $14.99 x 3 $44.97
Division If you would like your child to chip in for part of the back-to-school budget, or you are splitting it between parents or others, your child will have to use division. Division with decimals simply requires your child to include a decimal point in their answer directly above the decimal point in the dividend (the number being divided).
Once your child is comfortable working with decimals in these capacities, extend the practice by moving away from the context of money and now having them solve decimal problems that are beyond the hundredths place value. Every cent counts!
Jane Oh has taught third and fourth grades for 8 years. She has worked with many diverse groups of students. Most recently, she has written teacher textbook guides.