Connecting Math to the Real World

Posted by Cassidy Taylor on Feb 17, 2015 8:37:33 PM


It is common to hear students exclaim; "Math isn't important! All it is is a bunch of numbers. When will I ever use this except to pass the test? I am not going to be an accountant or banker." But as educators know, math is everywhere in the real world and the skills of mathematical literacy are as important as language literacy skills for students to learn. In fact, math skills are so integral to many of the routine and tasks of life that many never realize that they are doing calculations or performing feats of numerical fluency until the process is deconstructed and the mathematics pointed out.

When presented as endless series of worksheets written almost entirely in numerals, math can easily become disconnected from the daily lives of students and therefore seem meaningless to them. Like any language, understanding and using math with fluency requires students to decode combinations of abstract concepts (numbers and symbols) into a meaningful sentence (formula) and then provide an appropriate response (the answer). And just like other languages students learn math more easily when it is connected to and practiced in their daily lives. Kids learn faster and retain information better when the lessons have meaning and practical application in their daily lives.

Since daily life is full of situations that require humans to have mathematical literacy, why not use these activities to teach students numerical literacy. Pairing the theoretical with practical application not only makes math easier to comprehend, but more enjoyable and in some instances even extremely tasty.

Math at Home

These content-rich mathematical texts include engaging ideas to assist with instruction in essential math skills. Online books offer a great opportunity to enrich student’s vocabulary and content knowledge. Big Universe offers hundreds of titles in many different languages on thousands of topics. Find these informational and engaging texts at


Culinary Math Helen Thompson (author)

ISBN: 9781422289167

Cooking is a kind of science you have to get the measurements right to make everything work. It takes math. In Culinary Math, youll discover how numbers, ratios, and other math help make tasty foods you can cook yourself.


Shopping in the City Sara A. Johnson (author)

ISBN: 9781433304194

The city is a big and busy place with a lot of people and places to eat and shop. Discover the many ways subtraction is used every day in the city. Apply your knowledge of subtraction for each item you buy, such as a t-shirt or a hotdog. 32pp.


Money Penny Dowdy (author)

ISBN: 9780778790228

This book is filled with full color artworks and images, introducing the young reader to the concepts of currency. Money explains the many concepts of money to primary readers, including understanding the value of unique coins and bills, counting money, and checks.


Banking Math Helen Thompson (author)

ISBN: 9781422289136

If you've ever gotten a check for your birthday or saved money for something you wanted to buy, youve seen that even a little money can mean a lot of math. Understanding the math behind money and banking can help you save and spend wisely, even if you dont have much. In Banking Math, youll learn about the numbers and arithmetic that are part of everyday life. Whether youre buying something at the store or saving for a vacation, math is a huge part of everyday life.

Math at Work


Business Math Rae Simons (author)

ISBN: 9781422289143

Have you ever thought about starting a business? Even if you just babysit . . . or mow lawns . . . or sell homemade jewelry at craft fairs, youll need to know some basic math to help you keep track of your expenses and earnings. Businesses need math. Learn what youll need to know to make money. Who knows where it might lead you!


Fashion Math Rae Simons (author)

ISBN: 9781422289174

People who make clothes need to get their numbers right. From the length of fabric to the size of a pair of jeans, math plays an important role in the fashion industry. In Fashion Math, youll learn some of the ways the math you learn in the classroom is important on the catwalk. You may even want to use that math to try your hand at making your own clothes!

Math at Play


Sports Math Rae Simons (author)

ISBN: 9781422289204

The speed of a pitch, the number of points scored, the time left on the clock . . . math is everywhere in the world of sports. Learn about the numbers and statistics behind sports like baseball, basketball, and footballand youll find you understand the sports you love even better. In Sports Math, youll discover that the math you learn in the classroom is just as important on the soccer field and basketball court.


Amazing Amusement Park Rides Meish Goldish (author)

ISBN: 9781617723407

Some amusement park rides are so extraordinary it's difficult to appreciate their incredible size and speed. In Amazing Amusement Park Rides, kids will get lots of help in understanding the big numbers behind some of the world's most awesome structures. For example, the Steel Dragon in Japan is the longest roller coaster in the world, covering 8,133 feet (2,479 m) of track. That's just a number, but when you know that if the roller coaster were laid out in one straight line it would stretch across 27 football fields placed end to end, you have a better idea of what the number actually means! Packed with large, dynamic photos and fun facts, Amazing Amusement Park Rides is sure to delight young readers as they explore the numbers behind the world's most incredible rides. Stat boxes on each spread provide a quick run-down of the key features of each building.


Game Math James Fischer (author)

ISBN: 9781422289181

Almost any game you play needs math. From poker to computer games, from video games to board games, math has a role to play. Game Math will help you understand your favorite games better. You may even find youre a better player when you understand the math behind the rules!


Getting Ready to Camp Sara A. Johnson (author)

ISBN: 9780743908658

Do you know how much planning it takes to get ready for a camping trip? There is food to buy, supplies to pack, and activities to plan. It doesn't seem like much work if you divide everything equally among your friends and family. If everyone does his or her fair share, it is much easier to have fun once you arrive at your campsite. After the work is done, it is time to relax and toast marshmallows. yummy! 32pp.


Let's Play! Sara A. Johnson (author)

ISBN: 9781433304200

Did you know that you use subtraction when you play games? Everything from picking a winning team, jumping rope, and playing hopscotch uses subtraction. See subtraction in action as you read this book! 32pp.

Other Resources Math resources and links for Teachers Teaching for Retention in Science, Engineering, and Mathematics: A Guide for GSIs (STEM) "Math in Daily Life" lesson plans and more from Annenburg Learner Drama Based Instruction Authentic Activities for Connecting Mathematics to the Real World Math activities linked to Common Core - middle and high school teachers

Topics: Classroom Ideas, Common Core, Integration Ideas, Reading Lists, Literacy

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