Gift cards are an easy way to give a person a gift when the giver doesn’t know what the recipient wants or needs. Kids often love getting these cards as they let the kids use them for something they really want.
The cards also present an excellent brain-based learning opportunity.
A major reason that gift cards are good tools for learning math is that they show how math is used in real life situations and this helps imprint what is learn in the brain so it isn’t forgotten.
If the child being coached has gift cards they received as birthday or Christmas gifts, these can be used for this exercise. Otherwise, making some cards out of cardboard and assigning each card a value will work.
For this exercise, the child being tutoring should have paper and pencil as writing helps the brain retain the information.
On one sheet of paper or on one side of a sheet, have the child list the gift cards and their value and then add them together. Then on another sheet or on the other side, list a few items the child wants and their prices, listing them in descending order of want.
One thing kids often forget about when looking at something they want to buy is sales tax. This part of the exercise is likely to be the most challenging but once mastered, kids will have a greater understanding of how math is important to them.
Have the child find out what the sales tax percentage for your area. Then have the child calculate the sales tax for each item they have listed as something they want to buy with the gift cards. They should then add the amount of tax to the price of the item.
Now the child knows how much each item will actually cost.
The next part of this exercise can be done based on the situation, such as the total amount on the cards compared to the total cost of the want list.
You can ask the child if the total amount on the cards is enough to get all the items on the want list. If not, how many can be bought? Can the most wanted item be bought? If not, how much more money would be needed?
Once a few questions like this are asked, it is very possible that the child will come up with more questions of their own and start looking for the answers. Once the brain starts working on the problem, it almost spurs the child into finding and solving every possible problem relative to using the gift cards.
When regularly stimulated with exercises that teach a practical math lesson, a child’s brain learns more effectively and retains what is learned.