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Activity: Math 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

Grade Level
Grades 6-9

Math Concepts/Skills
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, calculator

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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 their findings.
  3. 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.


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