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Unit Pricing

Students in 5th grade and early middle school must begin to develop an understanding of ratios and proportions. An easy application of the concept is related to unit pricing.  If  a package of six onions costs $2.84, what is the price per item?  This is a fundamental skill that all skilled shopper must possess.  By practicing ‘unit pricing’, student will develop an ‘beginning understanding’ of ratio and proportion which is a critical skill at the 6th grade level.  Additionally, they will understand how to make better consumer decisions.

Ideas to Consider

As you are moving through the grocery store with your child, ask them to approximate the cost ‘per onion’ of the bag of onions when given the price of the bag.  (As an example, of course, there are examples to practice all over the grocery store.) . 

Make the activity fun.  We don’t want to make the trip to the grocery store like ‘going to school’.  The point is to make it engaging and fun so that the children get the practice of the concept while in a real-world setting.  

Another example would be to have your child try to determine the ‘best buy’ when the grocery store provides more than one packaging option for a particular item.

Learning should not only happen in classrooms, learning should be in experiences!  Learning is not in books!


3rd Grade – Arrays:  The foundation for multiplication

A walk through the grocery store provides lots of opportunity for parents to help growing mathematicians understand multiplication.  With the common core math standards, the use of arrays (grids of columns and rows) to represent multiplication is fundamental.  Gone are the days where we memorized our math facts, Common Core expects students to understand why 3 x 5 = 15, not just remember it!

Consider practicing basic math facts as you approach the canned food section and have your child count the rows and columns of the arrangement of cans.  Use this opportunity to explain that the array created can provide information as to the total of cans (without counting each one) by multiplying the number of rows and number of columns.  Your child has probably been exposed to ‘arrays’ as they are learning the concepts of multiplication.  So, don’t fear, they will know what you are talking about when you say ‘array’, even if you would have never used the term.


As you continue down the aisle, have your child count the number of items in the ‘rows’ and ‘columns’ and predict the number in the section.  Start small!  What is important is that the child sees that ‘math’ is something that they will use outside the classroom.  It is not just an exercise for school.  Make it real!  Learning is not in books, Learning is in experiences!


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