
Math in the Home
Newspaper Search (Grades 35)
What you'll need:
Newspaper, calculator, pencil, paper, and graph paper (can be handdrawn)
 List it. Give your child the grocery section of the newspaper in order to make up a list of foods that will feed the family for a week and also meet a budget of a certain amount of money. Have your child make a chart and use mental math or a calculator to figure the cost of a few items. If the total for the groceries is more than you have budgeted for, talk about which items can be eliminated. Could the list be cut down by a few items or by buying less of another item? What will best serve the needs of the family?
 Shop around. Have your child search for advertisements in the newspaper for an item they have been wanting, such as a piece of clothing or tennis shoes, in order to find the lowest price for the item. After your child finds the best buy, have him or her compare the best buy to the rest of the advertised prices. Are this store's prices lower for everything or just items in demand?
 Highs and lows. Have your child search the newspaper for daily temperatures and create a graph showing weekly trends. Ask your child for the differences in temperature from day to day.
Parent Pointer  This activity helps children see how much math is used in everyday life. It also helps in the variety of ways in which math is used to tell a story, read a timetable or schedule, plan a shopping list, or study the weather. 
Treasure Hunt (Grades K2)
What you'll need:
Large container, buttons, screws, bottle caps, old keys, anything else you can count, and graph paper (can be handdrawn)
 Find a container to hold the treasures.
 Sort and classify the treasures. For example, do you have all the samesized screws or keys? How are they alike? How are they different?
 Use these treasures to tell addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division stories. For example, if we share 17 buttons among 3 friends, how many will we each get? Will there be some left over? Or if we have 3 shirts that need 6 buttons each, do we have enough buttons?
 For older children, you can organize the treasures by one characteristic and lay them end to end. Compare and contrast the different amounts of that type of treasure. For example, there are 3 short screws, 7 long screws, and 11 medium screws. There are 4 more medium screws than long ones. Make a simple graph showing how many of each type of screw there are. This activity may also provide an opportunity to talk about fractions: 7/21 or 1/3 of the screws are long.
Parent Pointer  Organizing the "treasures" in one's house provides practice in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Children can also graph data on shapes and sizes. 
Squash That Box (Grades 45)
Ever notice what happens when you flatten cereal boxes, tin cans, or other 3dimensional shapes for recycling? Or do you ever wonder how they design and make all those interesting containers you find in the department store? Mathematicians call the flat, unfolded designs of 3dimensional shapes "nets."
What you'll need:
Small cardboard boxes, aluminum cans, and cardboard tubes from toilet paper or paper towels
 Explain to your child that when we recycle materials, we need to flatten them. Ask him or her why (to save space). Ask your child to imagine what shapes will be created when you flatten the boxes or cans. Some people crush cans, which is not the same as flattening. When you take apart a cylinder, you have two circles for the ends and the flat cylinder makes a rectangle. Cut a cardboard tube lengthwise. What shape do you see (a rectangle)? What will a cereal box look like if you carefully unfold it and cut along the edges?
 Unfold a cardboard box, without showing your child the original box. Ask your child to imagine what the original box looked like. What shape will it be when it is put back together? How will the ends look?
 Have your child trace all the faces of a box or other 3dimensional shapes by laying every side and top and bottom on the paper to be traced. Ask the child the names of the drawn 2dimensional shapes.
 Have your child study a box. Then see if your child can draw a net (the unfolded version) of the box. Unfold the box to see how closely the drawn net corresponds to the actual net. What would the net of a pyramid look like? What would the net of a cube look like?
Parent Pointer  Recognizing 2dimensional shapes in 3dimensional objects and visualizing shapes are essential skills in fields as varied as architecture, manufacturing, medicine, and design. 
Simply Symmetrical (Grades 15)
What you'll need:
Paper, pencil, marker or crayon, magazine pictures, scissors, and glue
 Explore your house for symmetrical designs. See how many your child can find. Look at wallpaper, floor tiles, pictures, bedspreads, and appliances.
 Cut out a magazine picture that is symmetrical. Cut it along the line of symmetry. Paste one half of the picture on the paper. Have your child draw the missing half.
 Write your child's name in big block letters, then write your name. Which name has more letters with lines of symmetry? How many letters have one line of symmetry? How many of each letter have two? (a B has one line, an H has two). Does anyone have a name with all symmetrical letters? (BOB is one.) Can any letter be turned upside down and still look the same? (YesH, I, O, S, and X are symmetrical around a center point.) Go through the alphabet, making a list of the letters that look the same on both sides and those that look different.
 Fold a sheet of paper in half lengthwise. Have your child draw half of a circle, heart, or butterfly from top to bottom along the fold on each side of the paper. Help your child cut out the shapes that were drawn. Unfold the paper to see the symmetrical figure. Have your child color and glue the full figure on another sheet of paper to display the design.
Parent Pointer  A shape can be symmetrical when two parts of it are exactly alike. This exercise helps young children develop an understanding of symmetry and a sense of geometric patterns. 
Tracking Time (Grades 25)
What you'll need:
Clock or watch, newspaper, blank paper, and graph paper (can be handdrawn)
 Together with your child, keep track of the time he or she spends watching television as well as doing homework. Make a table listing the 7 days of 1 week. Keep two columns, one for television and one for homework. At the end of the week, see if together you can make a graph comparing the two different activity columns.
 While watching television, make a chart showing how much time in every hour is used for commercials compared to how much time is used for the actual show. Do this for every halfhour of television you watch. Then make a bar or pie chart showing the two amounts. Time the minutes carefully.
 Together with your child, keep track of how he or she spends time in one 24hour period: time spent sleeping, eating, playing, reading, and going to school. Measure a strip of paper that is 24 inches long. Let each inch represent 1 hour. Color in the number of hours for each activity, using a different color for each activity. When finished, make the strip into a circle and place it on a blank piece of paper. Trace around the circle. Then make lines from the center of the circle to the end of each color. Your child has just made a circle (pie) chart of how he or she spends 24 hours. Compare this with how other people in your family spend their time.
Parent Pointer  Statistics includes collecting information, analyzing it, and describing or presenting the findings in an organized way. 
Math Activities for Grades K5:


