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  • Writer's pictureMelanie Doppler

'When Am I Going To Use Math In The Real World?'

The answer to this never-ending question with 6 examples of real-world mathematics, specifically fractions. This is perfect for third-grade math, fourth-grade math and fifth-grade math.


As teachers, we get asked this question all the time. As parents, we may not get asked this question, but our children are watching our daily activities and wondering if we’re using math within them.

Half of the struggle with getting children on ‘on board’ with mathematics, is getting them to see the value in learning it. We want children to see that math really is a valuable part of their lives, and is necessary not only in their future career choices, but in their daily life as well.

So let’s look at fractions as an example. When do we use fractions in our daily lives?

  • Building/Designing/DIY/Home Improvement projects: Any Chip & Joanna fans out there? To do crafty house projects, and do them well, fractions are critical. Being able to make accurate measurements, down to the fractional amount is key to these projects being successful. Sometimes measurement conversions or adding/subtracting fractions is necessary too.

  • Cutting a pizza: This simple action is at the core of fractional understanding. Children learn about equal shares in second grade math and third grade math through simple actions like sharing an equal amount of pizza.

  • Pumping gas/driving: This includes a car includes a TON of fractions! Our kids are always dreaming about the day that they will drive a car, right? Well being able to calculate gas mileage, cost of gas, measure speed and distance all require understanding of fractions! And while these fractions are often represented as decimals, decimals ARE fractions because they represent part of a whole number.

  • Cooking/Baking: This one is obvious. To follow a recipe these days, you can almost guarantee there will be fractional amounts of some ingredient. So being able to accurately understand a fraction and measure it out is critical. And then there’s the times you want to double or half a recipe, which requires even more fraction understanding!

  • Ordering coffee/food from a restaurant/coffee shop: MONEY is fractions. Ever think about that? To understand the part of a dollar represented by a quarter, you need to understand fractions. To be able to make change, you need to understand fractions. We are constantly using money to spend (and try to save), so understanding what’s after the decimal is key. While represented as decimals, understanding money comes from a core of fractional understanding.

  • Sports: to calculate running speed, keep track of distance, player statistics and more, you need a solid understanding of fractional parts of a minute, of a mile and more. Time and distance are two great examples of fractions that can be represented using a linear model. Think of calculating the distance of a football field goal kick, or batting average for a baseball player, race speed and more. These are found everywhere in sports. And while some player statistics are represented as decimals, they come from that core fractional foundation.

There are SO many other examples of fractions in the real world. I would love to hear from you on what examples you've seen! Reach out to me on Instagram or send me ideas at! For a fun visual of this idea, check out my latest Instagram Reel!

Looking for some real-world project ideas? Check out my Career Math Projects available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store!


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