With this in mind, I decided to take my students on a little hypothetical shopping trip. I looked through some catalogs at school, but nothing really spoke to me. Then, I turned to the internet. I went to Oriental Trading and started looking up items I thought my students would be interested in.
I settled on the categories of sunglasses, candy, and toy assortments. For each category, I printed one full page of items. Before copying the pages, I underlined the prices to make them easier to find. I set the scene by explaining that we would be throwing a party and needed supplies. For this reason, we would be shopping at a store that sells items in bulk. (We wouldn't pay $20 for one candy bar!)
The students took turns picking what items we would purchase for the party. We recorded these items on our order form and added all our purchases up at the end. It was very interesting to see which items certain students picked. Some of the students did not agree with one particular boy's choice to spend $52 on bouncy balls. We all had a good laugh about that!
The nice thing about this activity is that it works on adding decimals AND multiplying decimals. For some items, we chose to buy more than one. Most of the students were not familiar with the word quantity, so this was a great teachable moment. When we purchased more than one, we had to multiply the price per item by the quantity.
How do you embed mathematics in real world contexts?