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Holiday Shopping

We are on year round school and my class is off for December so I usually skip holiday stuff. This year, while struggling to teach my students not only to count money, but to add and subtract it, I hit on a really fun way to do it. After going over the basics, we planned a fantasy lunch with menus from a local burger place. I tell the kids they have a dollar amount, and they choose their lunch, then calculate the amount they spend and the change they will receive. I add situations such as 'You have $15.00 to buy lunch. Later you are going to Scandia (a local amusement park) and want to have money left over to spend at the arcade. What would you buy for lunch that would give you the most change?' (The least expensive lunch was the boy who ordered 'extra cheese' and a soda.) I was sitting at home the other night contemplating a pile of catalogs and trying to think of a classroom use for them, when it dawned on me that I could use them in the same way. Next week we will be having a 'Fantasy Holiday Shopping Spree.' The kids will be using many math skills, such as estimation, addition, subtraction and regrouping. If your kids are already competent doing paper and pencil math, let them break out the calculators to speed things up. (I always make them write everything down even when using the calculators.) They will have to plan, organize and write about their choices and the people for whom they are shopping. I think that this will be a lot of fun, and a heck of a lot more interesting than traditional worksheets. One thing though, I don't expect this to be a quiet activity - after all, how can you shop quietly?


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