Supermarket Math: Fun Activities for Middle Schoolers

As your child gets older, it's helpful to reinforce the math knowledge that is gained in school. A trip to the supermarket can be a terrific place to practice these math concepts through games and activities. This list includes ten activities appropriate for middle school children.

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supermarket math middle school

#1 Planning for the Week

While you're working on your list, ask your child to calculate the quantities of various items you'll need for the week. For example, if four people in your household drink one cup of orange juice each day, how many cups will be needed for the week? The total number of cups will then need to be translated into quarts or gallons, depending on the volume.

#2 Budgeting in Advance

Before heading to the supermarket, work with your child on a list that sticks within a fixed budget. Have your child estimate costs and work to include all the items your family will need while not exceeding the budget. At the store, note that any estimates that were too low or any impulse-based additions to the cart will necessitate something else being cut.

#3 Determining Value

To foster analytical skills, ask your child to recommend the brand or size of a particular product that is the best value. Use unit prices to compare items of different sizes. Also, have your child account for sales or coupons that will affect price.

#4 Keep a Running Tally

As you add items to your cart, have your child estimate the total expense of everything you intend to purchase. This can involve rounding to the nearest dollar; however, it'll be important to note how your final total varies due to this rounding.

#5 Tally the Savings

Similar to totaling the expense of your items, have your child estimate how much money you are saving due to sale prices and coupons. This activity can be complex as sales are not uniform in nature. For example, some involve a direct amount of savings, such as $1 off; others are based on multiple purchases, such as three items for the price of two.

#6 Nutrition Analysis

Finding the most nutritious product can be a mathematical challenge. Ask your child to study the nutrition labels of different items and find the most beneficial. This logic challenge can mean balancing positive elements, such as vitamins and minerals, with negative, such as fat and sodium.

#7 Filling the Cart

Using a tape measure, have your child measure the dimensions of your shopping cart. As you select items, such as a box of cereal, ask your child to measure the item and determine how many it would take to fill the cart. This geometric exercise develops spatial reasoning skills.

#8 Analyzing the Layout

A supermarket is full of different types of product layouts and displays. As you move through the store, ask your child to calculate the quantity of a particular item on the shelf without counting each one. For example, if you see a bin of potatoes, your child can count the number of potatoes that comprise the width, length and depth of the bin, then multiply the numbers together.

#9 Deli Probability

There are a multitude of probability games you can play at the supermarket. At the deli counter, your child can ask the server which items are more popular. See if your child can determine the probability of each of these being requested by the next few customers based on this data.

#10 Checkout Line Analysis

Neither you nor your child want to wait in a long line to complete your purchase. Ask your child to estimate which line will move most quickly based on the number of customers and the approximate number of items each is buying. For example, will three people with ten items move more quickly than two people with twenty items each?

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