Everyday Math Activities Kids Can Do at Home

Opportunities Abound in the Kitchen, Grocery Store, and Elsewhere

Since many newer math programs, like JUMP math and​ Singapore math, work hard to help children recognize math in the real world, finding everyday math activities at home is a great way for parents to reinforce this philosophy.

Opportunities to explore math with your child pop up everywhere. Going to the grocery store, cooking dinner, or even watching the news together are some of the ways these opportunities present themselves.

Math in the Kitchen

At the end of a long day, when you’re thinking about getting dinner ready and getting everybody off to various appointments and lessons, creating mathematical moments is probably the farthest thing from your mind.

However, having your child help you in the kitchen not only offers the benefit of an extra pair of hands but also involves math. From measuring and sequencing to estimation and ​multiplication, the kitchen is a real-life school for kids of all ages.

Math on the Road

While road trips and other types of travel are a wonderful way to get away from the pressures and responsibilities of real life, they also provide some really interesting opportunities to practice math.  

A game called license plate math requires participants to pretend to be spies breaking codes to turn letters into numbers. That’s only one of many ways to drive home math while you’re driving away from home. Other ideas include teaching them about budgeting meal money, calculating the cost of gas, and figuring out distances on maps.

Math at the Grocery Store

Grocery shopping, or any other kind, can be a stressful chore when your kids are with you. In between the cries of “can we buy that?” and “Ick, asparagus!” you can make the trip more manageable by drawing on some math learning.

The store provides wonderful opportunities to practice estimating cost, creating and sticking to a budget, and using the scale to weigh produce.

Some Lemonade With Your Math?

Not all teachable math moments accompany everyday chores. Math comes in all forms, including lemonade stands. In addition to congratulating your child on their entrepreneurial spirit, you can add a few extra ingredients to their lemonade.

As your child starts to put their business plan into action, they'll need some help figuring out proportions, understanding capital investment, and settling on a price that will bring in some profit.

Math Through Conversation

If you’re like many parents, you may often hear phrases like, “I want one of those” and “I want the bigger half.” Use these moments as an opportunity to improve your child's mathematical understanding. You can explain that there’s no bigger half. And there may not be extra money for “one of those,” whatever it may be.

Look for opportunities to teach your children about making a budget, rounding to the nearest price, and learning about sales taxes. The begging for the bigger half offers the chance to teach your children about fractions, equal shares, and division with and without remainders.​

Household Tasks and Errands

Cleaning, running errands, and carpooling can also provide opportunities for using math. Carpooling provides a chance to have your children learn more about a range of math concepts, such as time, fractions, estimating (how long it takes to pick up each child and transport them compared with driving your child singly), and dividing costs (of gas).

Cleaning up a room is a good time to introduce the concept of estimation as well. For example, they can guess how many toys are piled on the bed or how long it will take to put all the clothing away or strip the sheets. You can also give them a real-life experience of time by setting a timer and challenging them to beat the clock.

Learning About Debt

Debt, credit, and interest rates are important concepts for kids to learn about. You can talk about these topics in general terms or discuss your own personal situation, depending on your comfort level and personal financial circumstances. For example, if you own a home or have credit card debt, you can discuss how much you pay in interest each month.

The subject contains many teachable moments. Explaining the concept of debt as it pertains to borrowing and sharing is one lesson you can share, as is helping your child understand what interest is and how it’s calculated. You can even use stuffed animals or treats as examples of items to lend or borrow to help your child better understand these concepts.