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Lesson Plan

Authentic Writing Experiences and Math Problem-Solving Using Shopping Lists

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Authentic Writing Experiences and Math Problem-Solving Using Shopping Lists

Grades K – 2
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Three 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Devon Hamner

Devon Hamner

Grand Island, Nebraska


National Council of Teachers of English



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



What could be a better purpose for writing than an opportunity to create your own shopping list and use it to buy your favorite treats? This is problem solving at its best! Students use their problem-solving skills to stay within their budget as they choose items they plan to buy and create their personal shopping lists. If their lists don't stay within budget guidelines, students are highly motivated to revise and edit. Once their lists work, students can actually go to the class store and buy their treats. This activity is a great way to integrate writing with math problem-solving.

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Books With a Money Theme: This sheet includes a list of children's books that feature a money theme.

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In her book Radical Reflections, Mem Fox boldly states that "we're currently wasting a lot of time by giving unreal writing tasks in our classrooms....You and I don't engage in meaningless writing exercises in real life-we're far too busy doing the real thing" (4). We need to challenge our young students to do real writing for a real purpose-real writing, like creating their own shopping lists, for a real purpose, like a chance to go to the store and buy favorite treats. If we want our students to be motivated to use their emerging writing skills, we have to make writing purposeful, challenging, and real-to-life. That is the purpose of this activity.

Further Reading

Mem Fox. 1993. Radical Reflections: Passionate Opinions on Teaching, Learning, and Living. Harcourt Brace & Company.


Oglan, Gerald.  "Grocery Lists, Shopping, and a Child's Writing and Spelling Development." Talking Points 12.2 (April/May 2001): 2-6.

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