How We Use Math in Every Day Situations

Don’t try to hide it…you know you do….everybody uses math every day!

Do our students really appreciate why we learn certain math skills?  Of course not!  They usually see school learning as disconnected from their everyday life.  But like most of us, they do use math daily…they just don’t know it!

So I came up with all these real examples of WHY we need to learn certain math skills because to be a responsible and functional adult, you need math.  I’ve tried to use real examples from their daily lives to show that they are using math everyday in lots of different ways.  I think that when you link everyday uses of math to “book” math, students are more motivated to learn it.

Examples of math in every day life


This is a biggie.  Probably something we use everyday without knowing it.  If your students don’t believe you use measurement everyday ask them these questions:

  • Did you or someone measure an ingredient for a recipe of your favorite cookies? (capacity)
  • Did someone fill up a gas tank with gas on the way to take you to soccer practice? (capacity)
  • Did someone measure how long your legs were to buy your new pants? (length)
  • Did someone measure how much you weighed at the doctor’s office? (mass)
  • Do you parents make you clean up every inch of your room when company is coming over? (perimeter and area) 


Students may not be as hyper-aware of time as most adults are (try getting kids ready for school on time).  But here are some questions to get them thinking of how they manage their time during the day (start times, end times, elapsed time, time to the minute):

  • Do you sit down at a certain time for dinner? (exact time)
  • Do you plan out your recess? Take a certain amount of time to use the restroom, drink water or eat a snack?  (start and end times)
  • When you get home, do you parents only let you play after you’ve completed your homework? (elapsed time)
  • Do your parents limit the amount of time you can spend in the bathroom taking a shower? (start and end times, elapsed time) Special note:  this is very relevant in California as we are in the middle of a most serious drought!
  • Do your parents limit the amount of time you can use technology or electronics such as, video games and tablets? (elapsed time)
  • Does your sport practice start and end on certain times? (start time, end time)


Students always struggle with fractions because looking at shaded parts of a whole doesn’t compare to real life examples of when we use fractions.  But there are certainly many real life examples:

  • What’s the last type of food you shared with a friend? (equal parts)
  • Did your parents limit you to just 30 minutes of television? (parts of a whole)
  • Do you separate your collector cards (Pokemon, baseball, etc) into different groups? (fractions of a group)
  • Did you and your friends try to figure out how to share 2 candy bars between 4 people? (equal shares)
  • Have you ever tried to share a broken up chocolate bar?  Some pieces are smaller and some are bigger.  Did you try to match smaller pieces to a bigger one so when you shared, each of you got the same amount? (equivalent fractions)
  • Sometimes adults get bigger pieces of a slice of cake than kids.  They eat more.  Have you ever compared your piece to the slice your dad or older brother got? (comparing fractions)

Operations (add, subtract, multiply and divide):

Probably the easiest part of math for students to see as there are many real life examples.  What we need to do is teach them as many strategies as possible when using the 4 operations:

  • You have some coins you’ve been saving.  Now you count your coins to see how much you have. (addition)
  • You baked some brownies with grandma.  You know she’ll want you to share them with your family of 5.  There are 20 brownies, how many brownies will each person get? (division)
  • You’ve been saving that Easter or Halloween candy all year.  You had 35 pieces when you started but now you’re down to 6 pieces.  How many have you eaten? (subtraction)
  • You’re making goodie bags for your birthday party.  You want to put 5 different goodies each into 20 bags.  How many are you going to need of each? (multiplication)


It’s more than just an x.  Unknowns are always around us and we have a knack for figuring them out.  

  • You need 20 stickers to go to the teacher’s prize box, but you only have 15 right now.  Did you figure out how many more you need? (unknown addend)
  • The class will help decorate the multipurpose room for the holidays.  Each student will make 4 candy canes for a total of 120 candy canes.  How many students are in the class?  (unknown factor)
  • You’re saving money to buy a new toy.  You’re saving 50 cents every week from your allowance.  How much will you have in 3 months?  (patterns)
  • You have a piggy bank and decide to count how much you have.  You group the coins by value and start counting. (functions)

Of course, even with these real life examples, students also need to know how people in the workforce (or even mom and dad at home) use math in everyday life.  

So, who uses math in everyday life?













sales person


ok….let’s just say EVERYBODY!!!

Math has been around since…forever!

How do you use math in every day life? 

Let’s start a conversation!


As always, I welcome your thoughts and suggestions!

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