Send This “Calculate the Cost” Activity Home With Your Students

We love this real-world learning opportunity!

Sponsored By Regions Next Step

It can be a real eye-opener for kids to learn that the real cost of an item isn’t what’s on the price tag. As you teach them about percentages through lessons on sales tax, discounts, and the actual cost of the things they buy, consider giving them some real-world homework! This “Calculate the Cost” activity is great for grades 3-8. It’s all part of our Adventures in Math resource center.

How do you complete the “Calculate the Cost” activity?

Families are invited to find a local store’s sales circular or visit a website that’s running a sale. They then choose two items that they’d love to buy for their family and write them on the included chart. Next, they’ll check out coupons, discount codes, and special offers to figure out their savings. Finally, they’ll add their state’s sales tax to calculate the final cost.

There’s also a bonus section where families work together to make a plan to save up so their child can purchase their favorite item.

Why teach calculating the actual cost?

Understanding how to calculate the actual cost of an item is important for elementary-age students because it helps them make smart decisions with their money. When they learn to calculate sales tax and discounts, they become more aware of how much they’re really spending. Knowing the true cost helps them budget and plan their purchases better. For example, if they see an item on sale, they can figure out the final price to see if it fits within their budget. Similarly, understanding sales tax prevents surprises at the register and ensures they have enough money to pay for their items. These skills also lay the groundwork for more advanced financial concepts in the future. Overall, learning to calculate the actual cost of items empowers elementary students to become savvy shoppers and responsible money managers.