Taking math to the grocery store
Ryan Summerlin November 21, 2013
“Learning happens everywhere” is the motto for Math Night, an event held by Graham Mesa Elementary School at City Market in Rifle, where students and their parents filled the grocery store’s aisles to demonstrate how the math taught in class helps in every day situations.
This year’s second annual Math Night was held on Thursday, Nov. 14, and had more than 400 people attend.
“It’s something that’s part of their daily lives,” Graham Mesa kindergarten teacher Sarah Brusig said of shopping for food. “Otherwise, in class it can be an abstract thing, so this shows them the possibilities of using those math skills.”
At the kindergarten level, Brusig said students can count past 20 and they learn what quantities look like, so shopping for food is a natural extension of those skills.
Fellow kindergarten teacher Maggie Brooks organized the event, based on similar events held by Chicago schools.
“We’ve had successful Raising a Reader programs at school, but this is a very practical way to have them use their math skills,” she said.
Another benefit is getting parents more closely involved in their children’s education, Brooks said.
“Traditionally, parents always come to the school, so this gets them out with their kids in a different atmosphere,” she stated. “And it brings others in the community who are shopping to a school event. Learning happens everywhere you go.”
Kindergartner Ashlyn Long and her mom, Tami Long, matched vegetables to colors on a chart and checked them off.
“I think this is great,” Tami Long said. “It gets parents involved and shows how to interact in public with what they learn in school. It starts that kind of habit. Usually, you get in a rush to go through the store, and this makes you slow down and learn.”
Math Night also brought out Rifle Middle School assistant principal Jenny Nipper, who said she wanted to see what was going on.
“Next spring, these fourth graders will be fifth graders at the middle school,” Nipper added. “We teach unit pricing and this is a real life application of that.”
Fourth grade teacher Britnee Hinman said parents were excited to help their children pick out items for a Thanksgiving meal and keep within a budget.
“They get $100 to buy everything on their list, so they have to keep track of how much they have left as they check off each item,” Hinman said.
When a student completed their list, they posted their results on a graph at the fourth grade table.
Stephanie Hernandez-Whitman, second assistant manager at the Rifle City Market, said Math Night is an event that “makes learning transparent. We take some pride in knowing the youth we see all the time in the store are learning in the store. The energy you see going on is awesome.”