Real- Life Math for Middle Schoolers

Today I have a lovely guest post for you all.  Are you often stumped for fun ideas to help your middle schooler apply their math skills?  I had such an easy time coming up with math games and activities for my children when they were in elementary school but started having a much harder time coming up with ideas for my boys once they reached those middle school years.  SO I was so excited when this article landed in my in-box.

I hope you enjoy!

To get your child applying math to real-life situations, have him plan a fun night out for himself, and figure out the cost.

Using money makes math matter in a big way! Plus, this activity will give your child the opportunity to feel like math can work for him, not against him. You don’t need tail and a top hat to go out on the town—just a few math skills!

What You Need:
  • Pencil and paper

What You Do:
  1. Determine how much money you want to give your child for a fun night out. However, he can only get the money if he does the math correctly prior to the night out and does not exceed his budget.
  2. Have your child write down his ideas for a fun night out. They must be very specific (i.e. movie, exact food items, etc.). Then have him find out the exact cost of each item on the list. Give him the sales tax for your area.
  3. Now that your child has a list of activities with the cost of each one next to each activity, he is ready to do the math!
  4. Have him take each activity and determine the cost of it, including the sales tax, if applicable. So, if one activity is to have a McDonald’s happy meal, have him call to find out the cost. He will then multiply the cost by the correct sales tax percentage. So, if the meal is $2.99 and the sales tax is 8% he would multiply 2.99 by .08 and find the tax to be .23. He would then add that to the 2.99, and the total cost of the meal is $3.22.
  5. After he does the math, check his work. If he has done it all correctly, give him the money for the fun night out and set up a date and time for it.
  6. Don’t forget to have him figure out how much he will have left over so when you ask for your change, you will know if he is trying to keep some for herself!

Extension Activity:

For older children, you can have them figure out how much gas it will take for you to bring them to and from their fun night out. Tell them how many miles per gallon of gas your vehicle gets. Find out the cost of gas per gallon. Now they will appreciate your taxi service!

Make sure to check out for more fun learning ides. 


  1. We are working on this a lot this summer.
    Blessings, Dawn

    1. Good for you! I often make my boys add up the cost but I forget to have them calculate the sales tax.

  2. Teaching real life scenarios is so vital as the systems are failing at this. My two oldest love Math and thank me now for all the times we played "store" and monopoly. I love this activity!

  3. This is great! Right now my husband is giving our kids what he calls adulting lessons. The first lesson was to find an apartment and a car and calculate the monthly expenses for both.


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