Money Math: Shopping for Understanding

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What You Need:

  • Money in a combination of small bills and change
  • Play food or items from your pantry
  • Labels or masking tape
  • Marker

What You Do:  

  1. Before you get your young learner involved, use the labels or masking tape to price the food items. Don’t obsess about this step. The apple you tag doesn’t have to cost what an apple would cost in the store.  
  2. Once you have priced the food, arrange it on your table or counter and invite your child to shop.
  3. Give him the money and encourage him to count out how much he has.
  4. Help him explore how it all works by asking him questions. Here are some possibilities:

How many items can he buy with $12.55, or however much money you have given him?   If he buys the pretzels, how much money does he have left?   What about if he buys the grapes and the oranges? What costs twice as much as an apple?   What is the least expensive item? What is the most expensive item? How much would it cost to buy the times for lunch?   How much would it cost to shop for a fruit salad?

Expand on this activity by taking him shopping. How much does a pre-cooked pasta dinner cost? What does it cost if you buy the pasta and the sauce separately? Take this even further by comparing it to the cost of a restaurant meal.

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