How to incorporate MATH into REAL LIFE routines


How can your teens and pre-teens use math in everyday life?

{Besides counting how many times their parents tell them to do their chores and homework, of course. ;)}

I am a mommy and I am a math teacher!  I am certified in the state of Texas – teaching middle school math exclusively for 10 years. 

I have a lot of great ways to use real-world math to engage with your older kids.  But here’s a warning — it is math and you may get resistance. If you struggle with math yourself because it’s been a while – I recommend Math Antics youtube channel to help with basics.  I used this channel in my classroom weekly.

Teaching Math in Every Day LifeKitchen Math

Age: 8-15+

One of the easiest ways to use math and fractions is with baking/cooking.  Ask your older kids to find their favorite recipe. They can use the internet or an actual cookbook to find one. (hopefully you have all the ingredients to make the recipe).

Before the kiddos can cook — they will need to get out pencil and paper (calculator to check after they do all the work).  Ask them to double the recipe, triple the recipe and “half” the recipe. You can have discussions like – if you double the recipe, how many people will it feed/serve?  If we had your best friends over — which recipe will we need to use?

When he/she/you get all of the answers correct — you can cook/bake the recipe and ENJOY!


Clock Math – Using a clock face to help with creating and simplifying fractions

Ages: 8-13+

You can use an actual clock face to tell time and make fractions.  However, many kids are not great at telling time (another learning opportunity).  

I had students use a paper plate, ruler (straight edge), markers and string/yarn to make their own clock face (art time).  Then using the yarn (connected to the middle) we talk about lines of symmetry. After we go over the basics, we create fractions based on minutes. 

Example:  5 minutes is 5/60 which can be simplified to 1/12 (you can talk about how the 1 and the 12 are also the numbers on the clock used to represent the 5 minutes and entire hour).  10 minutes is 10/60 which can be simplified to ⅙ (5/30 and 2/12 are also equivalent fractions but they are NOT simplified). 15 minutes is 15/60 which can be simplified to ¼ (3/12 and 5/20 are equivalent not simplified).

You can ask the kids to create as many equivalent fractions for each minute value and circle the most simplified fraction.

I take this a step further to help with adding and subtracting fractions.  Example ¼ + ⅙ = 5/12. Or you could use the minutes but adding 15 minutes plus 10 minutes = 25 minutes.  Then turn that into 25/60 and simplify to 5/12 (using division of 5 to the numerator and denominator)

This is a week-long lesson with lots and lots of practice — so do not get upset.  It is a skill we all forget without practice. Take it slow for both yourself and your kids.


Unit Rate – shopping and finding the best deal

Age: 10-18+

This lesson is seriously an actual real-life lesson we all need to use – especially if we are on a budget and need to make our money last.

Have your child research a certain product that comes in varying sizes.  You can take them to the grocery store or you can have them search online for pricing.  Be warned, on the HEB website they actually have the unit rates listed for you under each item (also a fun fact for moms while you are shopping online, too).  Depending on where your child is in math — you can have them calculate long division on paper then check with a calculator. Or (in order to avoid more temper tantrums) just let them go straight to the calculator.

Example:  Soda. I will use Coca-Cola.

20oz bottle is $1.93.  The unit rate is the price divided by units (ounces) = $0.0965  Since we are talking about money, we always round to the nearest penny (hundredths place).  So this will be 10 cents per ounce.

12 pack of 12-ounce cans for $5.11.  To calculate this unit rate we first must find the total ounces in the pack – which is 12×12 or 144 ounces.  Price/ounces = 5.11/144 = $0.03538… rounded to 4 cents per ounce.

Mini 10-pack of 7.5 ounce cans for $4.59.  Unit rate is 4.59/75 = $0.0612 or 6 cents per ounce. 

If your child was doing this project — he/she should tell you that the best deal per ounce is to buy the 12 pack of 12-ounce cans because it’s only 4 cents per ounce.  The single 20-ounce bottle is the most expensive per ounce. You can then have a discussion about how the $1.93 is the cheapest item but yet the most expensive per ounce.


For some moms — this can be a lot to take in – because math is usually not our favorite subject (well, except people like me 😉 — But it really is good to practice and to explain the importance of understanding this type of math because it is NOT going away and we ALL need it no matter how old we are or what profession we are in.

Looking for additional resources (not math related) for your teens? Check out this article and this one for loads of ideas!

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Darcy Esparza
Darcy started her professional career in CC in 1994 and immediately moved away for her job, got married to her husband, Louie, and started her family before moving back to the Coastal Bend in 2012. Darcy grew up in Florida before making Texas her home. She has a journalism degree from the University of Florida but is more known for her middle school math teaching career and her now title as co-owner of a local mattress store, BoxDrop Mattress (social medial handle @boxdropcc). Darcy and Louie have been married for more than 20 years, have 4 children, 2 granddaughters, and 2 dogs.