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Tuesday Teacher Tips: Grocery Store Ads

Welcome to the Tuesday Teacher Tips series! Each week we’ll highlight teaching and learning resources, ideas to use in the classroom, as well as things to ponder as you go about your teaching day.

Recently, I’ve been saving copies of the weekly grocery ads, the multi-page flyers that come in the Sunday paper. They work great to teach and reinforce so many real-life math skills. Collect enough for each student in your class; none have to be the same.

Tell the class that you are giving them a budget of $5.00 (or $1.00 or $20.00…). Ask them to look through their ad to see what they can buy without going over their allotment. Explain that they can’t write any of their problems on paper; it all has to be done using mental math. How did they figure out the problem without writing down the equations? Did they estimate to the nearest dollar, quarter, or dime? Now have them figure out the exact answer. How close was their estimate to the exact answer?

Comparing numbers
Assign students to cut out five items, along with its price, from their ad. Next, ask students to arrange the items by cost from least to greatest. Then have them glue their items on a piece of construction paper. Display the posters in the front of the room to use during a class discussion. What costs more, a head of lettuce or a can of soup? Which costs less, a bag of candy or a box of cereal? How did you know which was the smallest and which was the greatest?

Calculating totals and figuring out change
Tell the class that they can buy any two items in their advertisement. Have them write down the items and calculate the exact cost of the purchase. Now tell them they are paying with a five or ten dollar bill. How much change they will receive? What is the fewest number of coins that the cashier will give them? Do they have money left to buy anything else?

You can easily have the class multiplying or doing repeat addition with grocery store ads. Ask students to find the cost of a pound of hamburger. How much would it cost to buy five pounds? How much would ten jars of peanut butter total?

The ads give students the opportunity to discover how different items are sold: individually, by the pound, by the bunch, by the package, or by capacity. How is it is stated in the ad so they know the way it is sold? When is the metric system used and when is the standard system used in the grocery store?

What are some everyday materials you use in your classroom? Please share, we’d love to hear about them.