Play Pantry Math Activity

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Updated on Mar 20, 2014

Use what's stacked in your cupboard to help your child learn how to compare fractions and decimals. Bust out that 3.3 lbs. bag of rice and that 3 ⅓ lb. box of juice and go to town! Concrete objects bring math to life.

What You Need:

  • Various food items (minimum of 6) with the capacity shown on the package (include packages showing whole numbers, fractions, and decimals)
  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Ruler

What You Do:

  1. Raid the pantry with your child and pick out at least six food packages to use for this activity.
  2. Ask your child to read the capacity of each item aloud, and line them up in order, from the least to the greatest capacity.
  3. Explain that using a number line will help determine whether his ordering of the items is correct. Draw a horizontal line across the paper.
  4. On the far left side of the line, ask your child to make a mark and write a zero underneath it. Then have him make a mark on the far right side. Underneath this mark, write the capacity of the largest/heaviest item from the pantry (for example, if you have a six pound bag of pasta, write 6 lbs.
  5. Fill in the rest of the number line, using numbers that show the capacity of the five remaining food packages. When the capacity amounts are shown in different forms, help your child do the translation. For instance, if the capacity of one item is 3.24 lbs. and the capacity of another item is 3 ½ lbs., explain to your child that 3.24 lbs. is closest to 3 ¼, so that number is placed to the left of 3 ½ lbs. on the number line.

Using the capacity of real items around your house is a great way to teach about the relationship between fractions and decimals. It's a skill kids will use again and again, whether in the classroom, in the grocery store, or deciding how much double pepperoni pizza he can eat without getting horribly sick!

Sally is an experienced educator, with over 14 years of teaching experience. Over the last ten years she has created educational materials, including ancillary, textbook, and test items, for Grades K-8 for major educational publishers.

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