ActivitiesHomeschoolingLearning From LifeMathematics

Everyday Learning: Our Car Charts

I am always on the lookout for learning opportunities within the context of daily life. When something comes to my attention, I simply try to initiate a conversation that encourages my daughter to express her thoughts on the matter and see where it goes from there. Mainly, I want to be a good listener and prompt a question or two:  “What does that look like to you?” or “How many is that?” Occasionally, the moment calls for an interesting fact, observation, or brief instruction, so long as I take care not to hijack the moment.


This is what it means to take on the “supportive” role of mentor in learning, and it’s amazing to see what God puts in our path. In fact, unplanned activities with academic merit are common. For example, one day my 6 year old daughter was having fun noting the car colors as they came through the Drive-Thru. This gave me an idea…


In my supplies at home, I had a package of large square graph paper (1/2” squares) leftover from when my older kids made their own multiplication grids. The next time we went to the restaurant, we took a sheet of this paper and a colored pencil for each of the common car colors—black, blue, red, silver, dark gray, green, brown, a color to represent white, and a color for “miscellaneous.” While we sat and enjoyed our lunch, we created a bar graph of cars as they came through the Drive-Thru. My daughter enjoyed it so much, we did this activity about once per month for an entire year!


As we created these graphs, we had some wonderful discussions about color variations and how a certain one ought to be categorized—we didn’t always agree and we’d each have to present our case. Sometimes my daughter wanted to say the colors in Spanish, or I might ask her how many more black cars we had than blue cars that day. But, I never treated it like an “assignment” and so it was never a chore.


Now, I have 12 months’ worth of stats that I’ve set aside for future use. There’s a lot we could do with that information—fractions, ratios, probability, averages, percentages, etc. We’ll see what opportunities come down the line when the time is right…