Thursday, May 30, 2013

Menu Math

When I was in 6th grade I was put in a Remedial Math class.

There were many possible reasons.

1. My 6th grade teacher had sleep apnea (or some sort of sleep disorder) and would frequently doze off during his lecture). I would take the opportunity to write out long rambling love notes to Ricky Schroeder.

2. I missed a few key concepts in early grades because I spent too much time daydreaming about unicorns, Ricky Schroeder and my twin sister who was secreted away to live in California with my Grandpa. By the Way...I don't have a twin sister...but my Grandpa did live in California.

3. I was not good at math. Though I seemed to just fine in college. I am still proud of that A in College Algebra. It could be that I had outgrown daydreaming about Ricky Schroeder.

Anyhoo. I was extremely embarrassed about being placed in Remedial Math, but it wound up being a really positive experience.

Primarily because of my teacher. She was somewhat of a celebrity in our little Ozark Mountain town. She had won big on The Price is Right. And surely anybody who had won big on The Price is Right had to know what she was talking about.

She made math real to us. We were required to pour over grocery lists and Piggly Wiggly ads. We had to set up household budgets and figure in percentages for sales and taxes.

My favorite, however, was when she would bring her huge collection of real life menus into class. She had been a little bit of everywhere and had gathered a variety of restaurant menus. To me it all finally made sense. No more abstract problems and formulas. I could actually see how it all worked.  

Of course, I had a few hiccups when learning algebra later on. The Piggly Wiggly ads didn't help with any of that. But I eventually did fine. I had a terrific Russian Nuclear Physicist in college as a teacher, but that's another story.

My experience with math has made me a bit twitchy. I remember introducing long division to some second graders and feeling faint. And some of Josiah's math issues have pert near driven me to a nervous breakdown.

So. I started my own little collection. Menus! Why not use what worked with me?

One of Josiah's favorite places to eat is Steak and Shake. We don't get there as often as he would like.

I've had him "order lunch." Figure in the tax and tip....all of it can be done with menus.

I've even given him a budget.

Andy's Frozen Custard is a Springfield, MO staple.

We've used the Take Out menu for all manner of math lessons.

My favorites are the seasonal Strawberry Shortcake Sundae (real shortcake, people)and the Ozark Turtle. Josiah has so much fun "ordering" and I can pretend I am indulging in something I can't have.

I can guarantee it's not the same.

I'm always looking for more real life math applications...Anybody else have one?


  1. This. Is. Brilliant.

    but I am drawing a blank as to anything we've used to make math real. Best thing I know of for fractions for my daughter has been following recipes, which are full of halves and quarters etc. Lots of math in the kitchen, isn't there?!

  2. I love this idea! I think I'll try and use this when we're out and about this summer so that I can secretly still work on math concepts with my daughter. ;) I hope she doesn't notice!

  3. Fun idea. I will share this on the A+ TutorSoft Facebook page too. I am always looking for things to share from bloggers. Also if you are not an A+ TutorSoft affiliate yet and want to me email me

  4. I love this idea and I am curious as to how you got the menus? Did the restaurants give you a menu for free when you explained to them what you wanted it for?

  5. Kimi, The Menus I have are ones that the restaurants have available for customers to use to take home (for takeout purposes). The menus I have that I use most frequently are from Steak and Shake, Subway and a few local restaurants (including a couple of Chinese places). They were all in a "take one please" slot.


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