Grade 6 Business Math

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The second block of Teal’s sixth grade year was business math. I used the “Business Math Main Lesson” in Jamie York’s Making Math Meaningful middle-school curriculum as a guide. It is very thorough in listing the math skills to focus on, but you must come up with the way to teach them.  I chose to begin with some basic economic concepts and terms and then have Teal create a business that we could use as a model to learn and practice the skills in Jamie York’s book.

We started the block by discussing production, distribution/trade, and consumption, then we spent a few days talking about three simple economic systems; self-sufficient, bartering, and money. Next we moved on to supply and demand. We did some graphing of demand, supply and equilibrium. I used information found online to define the terms and give me ideas for graphs. We did a lot of talking about everything so I could make sure Teal really understood what was being representing in the supply and demand graphs. (You may notice I didn’t do a supply curve; I tried to keep things very simple for this introduction.) I introduced percent and we spent time working with them as they relate to fractions and decimals.

I asked Teal to create a business in which she really had to sell something. She chose to make and sell cookies. Since she didn’t have any capital to begin the business, I was the bank. We figured out how much it would cost to buy supplies, how much money I would loan her, and how much she would have to pay back in interest. She set the price of the cookies and did the math to figure out how much money she would make selling the cookies for $0.25 each and how much she would make if she sold them at a discount of five cookies for $1.00. She figured out that she would have to sell a minimum of 26 cookies to pay off the bank loan and interest.

After all was figured out, she became very embarrassed to set up her cookie table on the corner near the school bus stop (in order to have lots of kids go by.) I helped her push through the embarrassment and she was able to sell all of the cookies she made with a profit of $2.20, which made her quite happy. I had her write an evaluation afterward in which she wrote, “I felt like if I made more cookies I could have sold them all.” It turned out to be a very positive project.

We did have to make up other scenarios to work in some of the skills outlined in York’s book. Teal has been using the Making Math Meaningful 6th Grade Student’s Workbook for math this year, too, and I really like that there are usually one or two business math problems per sheet. My recommendation is to make sure you position this block for a time in the year when you have had a chance to review decimals and anything else you might need. We did math review as an extra lesson during our mineralogy block and I was very glad that that got us squared away to begin this block.

Thanks for reading!


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I positioned our grade 3 Shelter block to follow the Creation block last fall.  It made sense to me to continue with the Old Testament stories using the story “The First Houses” in And There Was Light by Jacob Streit. After reading “The First Houses” as an introduction, I transitioned to using Marsha Johnson’s free Shelter block resource from the Waldorf Home Educators Yahoo Group. This is a very wonderfully laid out block and provided lots of ideas from which to work. Marsha suggests making it a four-week block, but to accommodate our schedule I trimmed it down to a two-and-a-half week block.

We began by looking at our own house. We walked around our home inside and outside noticing which materials were used in the construction. We made sure to visit the unfinished spaces to look at the way the pipes and wires were installed. Then Pintail listed the materials that were used in our house next to a lovely drawing of our home. We talked about our climate and why our home needed to be built the way it is, with slightly pitched roof and double-pane windows.

We talked about the way the native peoples in our area lived. What materials they had when they built their homes. What their biggest needs were from a shelter. We then looked at the five books recommended in the Christopherus curriculum Houses of by Bonnie Shemie. Right around this time, we got a little snow and attempted to build a miniature igloo.

Then we branched out and began talking about shelters in other areas of the world. As Marsha recommended, we used climate types to guide our work. Hot/Dry climates, Hot/Wet climates etc. I found a couple of wonderful books from the library that showed homes from different climates in the world. Rather than writing summaries in the Main Lesson Book, I let Pintail do information webs in print. I made a conscious decision to not make this block about the summaries.

As a culmination to our study of shelters, I had Pintail choose a type of shelter and make a model. I expected him to choose something native-peoples-y, and was surprised when he wanted most of all to make a floating house that he had seen in one of the library books. I had him do a little write-up about his project in his Main Lesson Book (there are some mistakes I hadn’t noticed until posting! We’ll fix those up when we go through our MLBs at the end of the year.) His project turned out very nicely with a coat of white spray paint to make all the recycled bits look uniform.

Some other resources included “My House’s Night Song” by Betsy Rosenthal. This poem is found in Marsha’s Shelter block and was a favorite of ours. We also learned “Houses We Build” a song from Diane Barnes’ Music Through the Grades.  This YouTube series called The Bird People of China – Stilt Houses was fun to watch, too. We still giggle about the fire marshall in the video yelling through his bullhorn, “To help prevent fires, please be careful with fire!” It seemed funny at the time…

Thanks so much for visiting me today!