Today was a totally delightful 20 minutes of math play. It ended up being almost 40 minutes as we created our play situation.
I have to admit that sometimes pretending can be exhausting. Maybe as I’ve gotten older I’ve lost that spontaneous creativity. So I was happy to find a way that I could “pretend” a real life situation…ordering food at a restaurant. Today, it was almost lunch time and my 5 year old and I decided we were going to make our own restaurant…PB & J. We built the menu, with her telling me the items and prices. It was fun to think of the different categories and to put together the menu. We grabbed a notepad, marker and some cash and we were ready to go. (Notice some of her choices, “Soda is not very healthy so we can make it very expensive.”)
Right away she wanted to order a Hawaiian Punch juice box, and an appetizer of crackers. That was when I asked her how much money she had. She counted her cash, “I have 8 dollars.” I asked her if she had enough money to buy a lunch. This was one of those moments where I wish she would think out loud, because she immediately changed her drink order for milk. I bet all kinds of good mathematical thinking was going on there! Now, if I know my daughter, it’s because she wanted enough money for dessert!
Sure enough, I took her order and it came out something like this:
She quickly realized that she was NOT going to have enough money for dessert, so she sprinted off to go and get her piggy bank, coming back with coins. She asked me so innocently, “How many of these do I need for a dollar… one?” That was the perfect moment to tell her that a dollar is ten dimes, or four quarters…the perfect intro as to why she needs to know about coins and their values.
Which will lead to many more fun money play sessions! We can use this same menu, but change up the ways to pay, the amounts and combinations of money. All of which she will have a strong reason to want to know how to do it.
The best part? I told her that she needed to make sure to leave the server (me) a tip. As I left the room with her dirty plates, she secretly wrote this on a piece of paper and presented my “tip” to me when I came back:
I’ll take that tip over 20% any day!