Another Reason to Ask Why

27 Apr

Kate (Age 9, Grade 3) and I were in the grocery yesterday afternoon. We were buying potato chips … the requested treat of her sister who had stayed in the car to read Harry Potter for the umpteenth time.

Me: Which bag of chips should we buy – the smaller bag (8.5 oz.) or the larger bag (13 oz.)?

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We examined the labels, and I showed her the per ounce price for the smaller bag in the bottom left corner, both forgetting that her experience with decimals is limited and feeling guilty that we were just using the given rate instead of talking about how it was calculated.

K: 34 dollars and 9 cents per ounce?!

Me: Oh – we read that 34.9 cents. But for now let’s call it 34 cents per ounce (I didn’t think getting into a conversation about rounding was our best bet at this point.)

K: And the other is 29 cents.

Me: So which one should we buy?

K: The small bag.

Me: [I was surprised by her answer. Kate has been comparing numbers successfully for a while now.] Why did you choose the small bag?

K: Doesn’t it taste better if it is more expensive?

We proceeded next to the cans of green beans. And since our grocery hasn’t had organic green beans now for over a year, we bought the next most expensive offering on sale at 10 for $10 instead of the others regularly priced at $0.49 each … I wonder where she learned that some things do taste better if they are more expensive?


Posted by on April 27, 2014 in Student Reflection


Tags: ,

4 responses to “Another Reason to Ask Why

  1. Gloria Beswick

    April 27, 2014 at 11:47 am

    You are so funny! Thanks for the story and the chuckle this morning.

    • jwilson828

      April 28, 2014 at 1:18 am

      I’m glad it got your morning off to a good start!

  2. Dan

    April 27, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    Awesome story. Interesting example of how we never know what our students take away from lessons.

    • jwilson828

      April 28, 2014 at 1:19 am

      Yes…It makes me wonder how many standardized test questions have been answered “incorrectly” because of this kind of reasoning.


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