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Lesson Plan #: AELP-MPS0003
AUTHOR: Mark Whitener, KS

Date: 1994

Grade Level(s): 3, 4, 5


  • Mathematics/Process Skills


This activity is a timed game that allows students to practice their estimation skills while shopping for groceries. Students work in cooperative groups and are in competition with each other.


The purpose of this lesson is to give students an opportunity to practice estimation skills in a real life situation after a unit on estimation has been taught.


The students will be able to:

  • Use a shopping list to purchase items from a grocery store.
  • Use estimation skills to keep a running total of items to be purchased.
  • Avoid over spending.

    • empty packaging from the grocery store
    • timer
    • calculators


  • Have each group number off.
  • Call student number one from each group forward and give each one an identical shopping list.
  • Give students a money limit and set your timer for one or two minutes.
  • Upon your signal, students will select their items from the store and will purchase as many additional items as possible without going over their limit. Allow students to take items back to the group so they can help estimate the total. If the student has money left, and time allows, they can purchase additional items.
  • When the timer rings have students return to their able and add up the purchases. If they estimated carefully and did not go over their limit they may give themselves one point for each item they purchased. No points are allowed for groups that go over their limit.
  • Begin the process again with number two students by giving them a new grocery list. Continue the activity until each student has had an opportunity to participate. Keep a running total of each groups points.
  • Difficulty may be increased by telling students that they must come within a specified amount of the limit without going over. For instance, if their limit is $7.50, tell them they must spend at least $6.50.

    After each student has participated in this activity, add up each group’s points and reward the group with the most points.

    May 1994 These lesson plans are the result of the work of the teachers who have attended the Columbia Education Center’s Summer Workshop. CEC is a consortium of teacher from 14 western states dedicated to improving the quality of education in the rural, western, United States, and particularly the quality of math and science Education. CEC uses Big Sky Telegraph as the hub of their telecommunications network that allows the participating teachers to stay in contact with their trainers and peers that they have met at the Workshops.