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in My House
To make students aware of the various ways their family members use mathematics
in their daily lives; to help involve parents in their children's math education
Computing and interpreting statistics, calculating percentages, constructing
bar and circle graphs
20-40 minutes (This activity should be partially done at home; in-class
time will depend on the level of reporting you require. You might use
it as an extra-credit assignment.)
Graph paper or chalkboard, copies of "Math in My House" worksheet,
Design a tally sheet (or use copies of the sample worksheet that follows)on
which students may record their answers. Plan the questions students will
ask their parents or other family members about the ways their family
members use mathematics or math skills. Prepare some key questions such
as, How do you use math to pay bills? do taxes? invest? budget? cook?
sew? do woodworking? garden? etc. Using their math books as a resource,
students might also prepare a list of key topics, for instance, rounding
whole numbers and decimals, addition and subtraction of decimals, problem
solving, reading graphs and charts, using geometric concepts, and so forth.
They can ask their parents how they use these skills at home. After the
interview, have the students prepare data summaries, graphs and charts,and
figure averages. Ideas for data summaries are listed below. The summaries
can be done in small groups or by the whole class.
Ideas for data summaries
- What math skills are used most often at home? Have students count
and tally the number of times each math skill was mentioned by their
family members, and combine to find class totals. Make a bar graph to
display the data for the 6 to 12 most frequently used skills.
- Which family member uses math skills in the most ways
at home? Have the class tally the number of ways math skills are used
by their fathers, mothers, aunts, uncles, etc. They can ten compute
averages for each type of family member and make a table to display
- Which types of home activities are most often mentioned
as requiring math skills? Have the class decide on how they want to
categorize home activities. Suggestions include:
Housework--cooking, yardwork, and repairs
Financial--paying bills, preparing taxes, and creating budgets
Shopping--for groceries, clothes, gifts, or household needs
Leisure activities--woodworking, sewing, gardening, and other hobbies
Then, have each student categorize and tally their family data. Combine
the data for the entire class, and make a circle graph that shows the
four major types of activities (or the number you decide on) and the percentage
of times each was mentioned by family members. For example, your students
may find a class total of 600 ways math is used at home. They might determine
that 50% of these "ways" were in the financial area, 15% in
housework, 30% in shopping,and 5% in leisure activities.
This activity can be expanded to survey the ways parents or other family
members use math on their jobs.