Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Fun Way to Teach Math

Many years ago, when my oldest was still too young to "officially" homeschool, I purchased the book The Complete Home Learning Source Book: The Essential Resource Guide for Homeschoolers, Parents, and Educators Covering Every Subject from Arithmetic to Zoology by Rebecca Rupp. I loved all of the great ideas listed. My favorite was Rupp's explanation of a hands-on economics program that she made up for her boys. When I read about this fun "game," I couldn't wait until my kids would be old enough to try it. Hard to believe that we are now at that point.

The gist of the "game" is to have each child come up with his/her own company. Let them use their imaginations and get really creative. That's a huge part of the fun with this technique. My boys chose a hat emporium, a slushy shop, and a rocket shop. The possibilities are endless.

The first thing I did was to set each of the boys up with their own folder, which held a checkbook (from an old, closed account), check register, $300 in cash (play money of course), and a business license. They were each given an initial depostit of $1,000 in their accounts.

Each week they are given a series of activities. When I first started this "game" I wrote things down on note cards. When I began to get a bit overwhelmed with all that I have on my plate, my husband (who is active duty navy and currently in school down in Florida) kindly offered to take over coming up with the ideas for the program. He types up letters on his computer, logos/graphics and all, and then emails them to me so I can print them out. You can use whichever option works for you - perhaps combining both ideas.

The boys receive bills - some to be paid by check and some with cash. They need to record their checks and deposits in their check registers and then match their totals to the bank statement that arrives. Along with the bills comes some sort of income. They have won contests, business grants, contracts for work, and profits from their stores.

Sometimes they are also asked to turn in some sort of extra assignment such as a floor plan of their store, drawing a picture of a new product, or coming up with an ad for a contest. The more details they provide to us, the more fun we can make the process. While this "game" is teaching the boys arithmetic, check writing, and other important money facts - we are also trying to make learning fun and encourage them to use the wonderful imaginations that they all possess.

This game can be used with almost any age. Even young children can join in if a few adjustments are made. My five-year-old does not keep a check register (although he does have some checks to use for fun) and his transactions are all done with cash. What a great way to teach a little one how to count money! The older the child, the more interesting the game can become.

If you're looking to purchase some play money, Melissa and Doug have a great set available at Amazon. And Learning Resources has a set of checks through Amazon.

Check out FiveJ's for more Thirsty Thursday posts.


  1. When we first decided to homeschool, I check out Rebecca's book from the library. But it was 5 years ago and I don't remember this part about it. I guess I need to check it out again and read up. This sounds like something my kids would love to do.

  2. It was a blurb at the beginning of the economic resources.

  3. Its also fun as a parent to do. Along with reading books by Dave Ramsey, this really has provided me with some insight on something that most Americans don't do, teach fiscally sound economics to their children. I think this a great way not only to learn math, but show children how to be fiscally responsible when there is nothing at stake, except some play money.


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