This final installment of our summer time math series comes from Anusha Rao, Communications and Social Media consultant.

August brought us cool weather, and a downpour of deals for school supplies. $0.17 single subject notebooks and $2 Ticonderogas beckoned us in every direction. My husband and I thought we’d try something different this year. In the past, we have sorted through the deals, walked up and down stores to save a penny or two, or just given up and ordered a big box of supplies online. But this year, we were feeling more adventurous. We handed the school supply lists and sale announcements to the boys, 9 and 7, and tasked them to find us the best deal for the buck. They each got a budget and could request us to drive to any or all of the 3 local stores.

The idea worked like a charm! Between 2 stores, the boys found almost everything they needed. Here is some of the conversation we overheard.

“I need 3 red folders without prongs, each one costs 77 cents, so that means this will be..how do I quickly multiply…ok, let me estimate, 80 times 3…8*3 is 24…Mom, what is 80 times 3…oh, wait I know it, 240, so $240?? No that doesn’t make sense…240 cents?…ha ha now the cents make sense…Okay!”

Rounding off and multiplication – score! **Bonus points for geeky math humor**

“Here are 12 count Crayola colored pencils for 99 cents, they were a dollar and twenty cents at the other store. This is a better deal.”

Number sense and basic money awareness – check!

This exercise in supplies shopping ended up being much more engaging than we anticipated. They were no longer solving an isolated, disconnected math problem, they were now in the midst of a live game! Being “inside” the problem and traveling through the maze of school supplies, making calculations and estimations, and finally taking home the loot made the math that much more exciting and relevant. Tricky arithmetic and number manipulation did not deter them, as they were more intent on completing the supplies scavenger hunt and getting the best deal.  

As an added bonus, all year long, they can take ownership of the fact that they sifted through options and picked out the perfect pencil case that was both cool and economical. So much like a grown up!

The boys head back to school this week, their brand new supplies in hand, which brings our summer to a wrap. We look forward to a fantastic year ahead and we wish you and your family a very math powered school year! Happy learning!

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