Real World Math Fun to Create at Home

Order Dinner Out for Your Family

  • Choose a local restaurant from which you can order dinner.
  • Using a menu from the restaurant, determine what you would order for each family member. Keep in mind that it should be a balanced, healthy meal.
  • Determine the total cost to order those items.

Plan a Fun Day for your Family

Choose what you will do for the day and plan a time schedule.

  • Figure out if there is a cost associated with any of the activities you have planned. Calculate the total cost.
  • If you need to travel, figure out the route you will take and the amount of time it will take you to travel.
  • Plan for meals.

Geometry Fun!

Go on a scavenger hunt around the house and collect 2-D and 3-D shapes.  

  • Build something with them listing all of the shapes you used.
  • Sort them by attribute
  • Build some 3-D shapes using mini-marshmallows or playdough and toothpicks!
  • How many corners does your shape have?  How many edges?

Design a Garden

Create a plan for a garden in your yard.
  • Decide on the size and shape of the garden.
  • How big is the garden - calculate its area. How much fencing would be needed to keep out the deer - calculate the perimeter.
  • Plan out what plants you will include in your garden, where you will place them in the garden, and how they should be spaced.
  • How much mulch do you need to order if you want to put it down 3” thick in your flower beds?
  • How much mulch do you need to order if you want to put it down 3” thick in your flower beds?
  • What is the weight of that prize-winning tomato or pumpkin? How many peppers are on the pepper plant? If you need to keep your bean plants 3 inches apart, how many plants will grow on a 12 foot row? How many seeds should you plant?
  • Go to the supermarket or farmer’s market and find out the cost of fresh vegetables you can grow at home. How much money will you save if you grow it yourself?

Create an Obstacle Course

Create a number (5-10) of fun stations to get you up and moving this summer!
  • For example: long jump, skip count jump rope, find hidden objects in a pool/sandbox/ball pit, squeeze a soggy sponge into a measuring cup…be creative!
  • For extra math emphasis, add flags to each event that need to be grabbed. Have a fact or problem written on each flag that needs to be solved in order to pass to the next station.
  • Use a timer to see how quickly you and your friends can get through the course. You could graph your results and try it more than once to see if you get faster with practice!

Take me out to the ballgame!

  • Take in a summer baseball game – either at the ballpark or on TV. Baseball’s a natural place to see math in action – from a pitcher’s ERA to a hitter’s on-base percentage.
  • Record the events of the game using a scorecard. To find out all about how to keep score, go to Patrick McGovern’s fantastic website: The Baseball Scorecard. Then, calculate some statistics about your favorite players! If you really like baseball, run your own team!

Observing Nature

You can do this at the beach or in your backyard! Tally up how many birds, bugs, flowers, trees you see. Can you add them up? Make a bar graph? Try to make up word problems with the data you collected!

Calculate the Amount of Gas Used by the Family Car

When filling the car up at the gas station, it’s a great time to begin discussing how many miles the car drives per gallon of gas. Keep track of the number of miles traveled for each tank of gas and how many gallons the car used. Together figure out how many miles the car traveled per gallon of gas. Investigate whether this changes when driving more on the highway versus around town.

Plan a Trip Using Public Transportation

Choose a means of transportation such as Shoreline East Train or Metro North. (You might plan a trip from Madison to Pizza Works in Old Saybrook or from Madison to New Haven to visit Yale Art Museum.)

  • Decide where you will begin your trip and where you will end.
  • Find a time schedule for the chosen transportation and determine when you will need to leave, how long it will take, how long you will remain at your destination and when you will return home.

You can get really creative with this type of project and give yourself an imaginary amount of money and plan a trip to a place you need to fly to. Then, look into flight schedules and costs.

How Long Did You Read?

Here’s a way to practice your reading and your time skills.  Look at the clock before you begin a book.  Write down the time you started.  When you finish reading, look at the clock to see what time you finished.  

Can you read the hour and minute?  Can you figure out the number of minutes you read?

Take a Vacation!

Before you take off on that family trip, help your parents and get in on the planning!  Here are a few examples of where math can be used when taking that family trip:

  • Use an atlas and figure out how many miles you’ll be driving – the scale of miles is a great example of proportion and measurement used in real life!
  • What’s your car’s fuel efficiency?  Add to find out the total cost to fill up the tank throughout your trip; divide to calculate the miles driven per gallon of gas; multiply to determine the cost of a fill-up based on your expected travel distance… is it time to purchase a hybrid vehicle?
  •  How fast did you get there?  Use the car’s trip odometer to find out how many miles you’ve driven, and determine your average speed.  

Take a trip to the grocery store!

  • Estimate the total bill based on prices of what you are purchasing.
  • How much does that bunch of bananas weigh?  How much will it cost?
  • What is the unit price of your favorite box of cereal?  What is the unit of measurement, and how much is the total cost of that box?

In the kitchen – cook up some math!

  • Measure all of the ingredients (especially the liquids in the glass measuring cups).
  • Challenge yourself to double the recipe or cut the recipe in half – fractions are everywhere!


  • You’ve gotten that list of needed school supplies from the Brown School website… how much will that cost!  Use the advertisements in the Sunday newspapers to find the best deals… and calculate how much you’ll spend to get set for the new school year.  The costs add up… do you really need that new backpack that won’t fit in your locker, or will what you had last year still work for you
  • A new wardrobe?  At what cost?  We know you grew… corn isn’t the only thing that grows during the summer!  But can you look just as chic with clothes from the outlets as with clothes from the mall?