As math teachers, we are all familiar with the perennial question: “When will I use this in real life?” This is a query that is especially common in math classrooms. One approach that can help to bridge the gap between abstract mathematical concepts and real-world applications is to incorporate activities that emphasize mental math. In this blog post, we’ll delve into one such activity, dubbed ‘Am I Rich Yet?’ This engaging activity not only hones students’ mental math skills but also fosters a strong understanding of the practical application of mathematics.
Remember: Learning can be fun and effective with the right tools, and our duty as educators is to provide these tools. The ‘Am I Rich Yet?’ activity promises to be one such tool, supporting mental computation while building financial literacy.
Understanding the Activity
The ‘Am I Rich Yet?’ activity begins by immersing students in a relatable story. They’re given a scenario where they perform chores at home, earning $5 per day over two weeks. Following this, they’re posed with a question: will they accumulate $7000, $700, or $70 at the end of the two weeks? This real-life context helps them to engage with the problem, making it less abstract and more meaningful.
Without revealing the answer immediately, teachers can guide students to understand that two weeks equates to 14 days, so their earnings would be $5 x 14. This operation can be simplified mentally by breaking down 14 into 10 and 4, leading to the equation (5 x 10) + (5 x 4) = $50 + $20 = $70.
To further enhance their mental math skills, students are encouraged to compute the total earnings without writing anything down. This exercise builds their cognitive abilities, fosters a number sense, and enhances mental computation capabilities.
Once the students comprehend their earnings, the activity expands by asking how many weeks they would need to work to buy a $700 racing bike. The students may be tempted to say ten weeks in total, but the correct answer is actually twenty weeks, considering the rate of $35 per week. By incorporating a goal in the form of a desirable purchase, the activity becomes even more engaging and reflective of real-world financial scenarios.
The final stage of the activity involves renegotiating their daily earnings to $10 per day and reevaluating how quickly they could afford the bike. This adds an extra layer of complexity to the activity and introduces the concept of negotiation and wage increase.
Accommodations and Modifications
Every classroom is diverse, and an effective teacher is aware that activities must be tailored to meet the varying needs of their students. The ‘Am I Rich Yet?’ activity is versatile and can be modified to suit different learners.
For students struggling with the activity, it may be beneficial to decrease the complexity of the problems. Instead of dealing with a two-week timeframe, you could start with a single week. Alternatively, you could use lower numbers to make mental calculations more manageable. Incorporating manipulatives, like coins or counters, can also be beneficial for visual learners and students who struggle with abstract concepts.
For advanced learners, increase the complexity of the scenarios. Maybe their chores earn varying amounts each day, or they’re saving for multiple items at once. This enhances their problem-solving skills and encourages them to think critically about financial decisions.
For students with attention difficulties, make sure to break down the activity into manageable chunks. Guide them step by step through each stage of the problem, ensuring they fully understand before moving on. Frequent checks for understanding and positive reinforcement can be beneficial for these students.
Game Play Scenarios
The ‘Am I Rich Yet?’ activity can be further expanded by introducing various gameplay scenarios. These scenarios can stimulate students to think outside the box, encouraging creativity and strategic thinking.
- Scenario One: The price of the desired item changes. For example, the $700 bike is now on sale for $650. Ask the students to calculate how this affects their savings plan.
- Scenario Two: Introduce the concept of ‘expenses’. Perhaps they must deduct $10 each week for bus fare. How would this reduction impact their goal?
- Scenario Three: What if they could earn more money by doing additional tasks? Suppose their neighbors offer them $10 for mowing their lawn once a week. How does this additional income expedite their ability to buy the bike?
- Scenario Four: Introduce the idea of ‘saving’. For instance, they decide to save half of their earnings and use the rest for personal expenses. How long would it take to buy the bike in this case?
These gameplay scenarios can make the activity more dynamic and engaging, enabling students to further develop their financial literacy and problem-solving skills.
The ‘Am I Rich Yet?’ mental math activity offers a captivating, practical way to improve students’ mental arithmetic skills. By immersing them in real-world scenarios, it enables students to understand and appreciate the relevance of math in daily life.
This activity also provides a flexible framework that can be tailored to various learning styles and needs, ensuring inclusivity and engagement for all students. Additionally, it offers ample opportunities to incorporate different gameplay scenarios, enhancing its dynamism and educational value.
As educators, our role is not only to teach but also to inspire and motivate. With the ‘Am I Rich Yet?’ activity, we can make mathematics more relatable and interesting, and who knows, perhaps we can also help nurture the financial gurus of the future!
So, next time you encounter that question – “When will I use this in real life?” – bring out the ‘Am I Rich Yet?’ activity. Turn the question into an opportunity for students to explore, understand, and appreciate the practical value of mathematics. Because yes, they will use it in real life, and activities like ‘Am I Rich Yet?’ make that connection clear, fun, and engaging.