30th March 2007 at 01:00
Numeracy. Ages 7 to 11

I've used this activity with children of different ages and abilities and it has never failed to motivate them.

Explain to the class that every letter of the alphabet is worth money: a=1p, b=2p, and so on to z=26p. This can be displayed on the board or on paper for reference.

Then write a shopping list and ask pupils to work out the cost of each item by adding together the values of the letters. For example: bread costs 2p+18p+5p+1p+4p=30p.

This is a good opportunity to discuss strategies for adding mentally or you could provide calculators if appropriate.

Then challenge the class. What is the cheapest item they can find? What is the most expensive? Can they find an item worth exactly pound;1?

You can vary this to reinforce any concepts you have taught recently.

Pupils could use words relating to the Tudors, or the coast, or poetry - I've never yet had a child point out you couldn't buy these things in a shop. You could also make this seasonal by asking for words relating to Christmas or Easter.

The children enjoy the competitive element and are practising their spelling, addition and problem-solving skills in a fun way Mel Heale is a part-time teacher at St Andrew's C of E Primary School in Wirral.

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