August 11, 2013

Friday Fun School : Money Math

I try to do a few extra fun things on Fridays, especially if not much has been dumped over throughout the week.  Our daily math generally consists of 3 activities: a Teaching Textbooks lesson, an algebra lesson or review, and 30 minutes of the fact fluency program.  But on Friday, we ditched all of that and decided to play store.

homeschool, teaching math, counting back change

Each of the kids brought 3 toys to put up for sale (with a disclaimer that all toys went back to their original owners after math class) and everyone got to make up a price for their toys and stick it to them with a post-it.  The only rule was that it had to cost less than $3 and it couldn't end in nice, round amounts of change.  Wonky amounts like $2.67 were encouraged.  

homeschooling, teaching math, counting back change

Then I hauled out my giant freezer bag full of change that I've found in the laundry and couch cushions and we played.  The kids each got 3 dollar bills and took turns buying a toy from the toy store and being the cashier with the giant bag of change.  I demonstrated how to count back change, which is a task that a surprising amount of people reach the teen years without having acquired (as evidenced by the grocery check-out girls), and they each gave it a few tries.  

homeschooling, teaching math, counting back change

The trickiest part of this is that I've taught them to count their coins starting with the largest value coin and moving downward, but when you count back change, you use the smallest value coins first to get you up to a nice round amount and then add on the larger value coins.  This was very perplexing.  The concept of getting up to a quarter amount and then finishing off with quarters blew their minds.  That was so darn hard.  I noticed that they just wanted to pile on the dimes until they got to the full amount, which makes me want to run a formal study of cashier drawers and see if there is a correlation between years of education and coin choice.  I would bet my change bag that the fewer years of schooling, the more lower value coins a cashier uses in a day and with every year of schooling, their competent use of quarters increases.  If only I had become an economist, I could probably get someone to pay to go find out if that's true or not.  I mean, someone funded a study to find out if you really get less wet running through the rain than walking.  Why not my quarter study?

homeschooling, teaching math, counting back change

It was way more fun than our usual math, although the kids were way less focused on it, which left me saying, "Don't make me regret making math fun!"  a few more times than I'm proud of.  So, consider it an exercise in parent patience as well as basic blue collar skills.  Only attempt to use a game as a means by which to deliver real, actual skills on days when you're properly zenned out.  Otherwise you'll just sit there thinking, "They'd be learning so much more from a textbook right now!"  It takes twice as long to learn half as much when we play school, but it's totally worth it and I think it probably makes up our most memorable school times.  And for my hands on learner, this is the kind of lesson he'll really retain.  He makes me think he's totally not paying any attention and then he just shows up and surprises me.  

So play on, playas!  Save your change and have a fun math day.  Just make sure you meditate first.  

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