The common core standards set forth the following criteria for math proficiency are grounded in 8 math “commandments” that include contextualizing, strategizing, modeling, precision, reasoning, structure, content proficiency and perseverance.

We feel these standards are missing a crucial first step… Going a step deeper into “why should I care about math? How will I use it in my life outside of school?”

Getting your child to WHY s/he should tune into the lesson is key to unlocking their interest in HOW to address the 8 “commandments” of the math common core standards.

Today, we explore this topic for the Interpersonally Intelligent Child. For kids who thrive on interacting with others, focusing on math homework when s/he could be hanging out with, talking to, or IMing with friends can be a tough sell. You can help them understand why math is important…even to “people people” with this party planning activity.

Please Note: This activity will likely take a few days or more. Be sure to pay attention to when your child starts to lose focus and take a break, then suggest you pick up the “party plan” at another time.  (S/he may even come to you to keep planning!)

Sit down with your child to create their “ideal” party plan. Tell the child first that the sky’s the limit. Offer to pay for half of this particular party.

We’re off to the races with:

STEP 1 – Brainstorming

(Your role is to write down the elements of their perfect party. We’ve compiled these questions in this Party Brainstorm PDF to make life easier.)

  • Where would s/he host the party?
  • Would s/he have tables for the guests or chairs to sit on?
  • What kinds of decorations would s/he have to give it the “feel” s/he wants the guests to have when s/he enter?
  • Would s/he have entertainment? If so, who would provide it? If it’s just music, will you need special stereos/speakers/etc.?
  • How long will the party last?
  • Would there be food served at the party? What kinds?
  • Based on the food choices, will plates be needed? How about napkins? How about utensils?
  • How about drinks? Would there be any? If so, what kinds?
  • Will the drinks need cups? How about pitchers?
  • Who would be on the guest list?

STEP 2 – Research

Count how many people are on the guest list. You can use our Party Breakdown PDF spreadsheet or handwrite the answers and collect them in a party planning folder.

Have your child call the place (or look up the answer online) and find out

  1. how many people s/he will allow in the room
  2. how much it costs to rent it for the party

If the space is big enough for the number of guests your people smart child wants to invite, go to the next step. If it won’t accommodate the number of guests s/he’d like to invite, research a different space.

If s/he wanted to have chairs/tables for the guests, find out how much these will run each.

Research to find out how much each individual decoration will run to give the space the “look” s/he have in mind. Note the dimensions of all of the desired decorations.

If the child wanted to hire an entertainer or DJ, find out how much s/he costs per hour. If the child just wanted to have music on the stereo, do you have equipment you could use that would be loud enough for the whole event? Will you just be playing music from Slacker, Spotify or Pandora…or will you want to create an iTunes compilation. If iTunes is the response, then approximately how many songs will you need to “keep the beats popping” for the whole party? Does s/he have enough? If not, how many times will each song s/he’s got repeat? Is this acceptable or will s/he need to buy more music? If s/he need to buy more music, how many more songs will s/he need? What’s the approximate cost per song?

Go to the grocery store together and write down the costs of all of the food and drink items your child would like to serve at the party, as well as the cost of plates, napkins, bowls, utensils, pitchers, cups, etc. and the number of servings for each.

STEP 3 – Add it all up

Create a spreadsheet or draw 6 lines down a piece of lined paper to make seven columns (first column is the widest). Or return to our Party Breakdown PDF.

Make the header of the first column “ITEM”, second column “ITEM COST” third column “# of UNITS/SERVINGS”, fourth column “COST PER”, fifth column “# UNITS NEEDED”, sixth column “# ITEMS NEEDED”, seventh column “TOTAL COST”. (Or, just print out this handy worksheet.)

In the first column, write down all of the items you researched for their perfect party plan, the cost and the number of units/servings in each item.

If you want to find the cost per unit or serving, should the child add, subtract, multiply or divide? (answer = Divide)

Further, which number should be the numerator? How about the denominator?

Make each calculation

Decide on the number needed based on the number of guests. When looking at food, are there enough servings of food to accommodate all of the guests for the whole party? How about drinks?

Draw the size of the room on graph paper and diagram the decorations based on their sizes. Are there enough to give the party the “festive” feel your child wants? Will s/he need more? Note the decision in the # needed column for these items.

Now, figure the total cost of each line item. Does s/he add, subtract, multiply or divide to get the correct answers? Based on the number of units/servings in each item, how many total items will s/he need to serve the guests? Remind him/her that s/he will need to round each number up accordingly.

What’s the total cost of that line item for the party? How did s/he figure out that number?

Finally, total up all the party costs in the right hand column. (Does this mean adding, subtracting, multiplying or dividing?)

STEP 4 – Concessions

If you’re paying for half of the party, how much will each of you be chipping in? How do you find this information? (Adding? Subtracting? Multiplying? Dividing? What fraction or percent is half?)

Once you’ve got the costs, how much money have s/he got saved up? How much more will s/he need to chip in their half? Given their weekly allowance, how many weeks will it take them to earn enough money to pay for the party? How many months? (or years?)

We’re betting that the ultimate cost of the “pie in the sky” party for most “people smart” kids will be astronomical…and that it will take them well into their teens or adulthood to earn enough money to pay for it, so it’s time to start making concessions.

How can s/he eliminate or minimize the party costs? Invite fewer guests? How does this impact each line item? Select cheaper food or drink? What would s/he give up? What would s/he add more of? Would s/he choose a different locale? How does this impact the final cost and number of decorations needed?

At this point, you may want to make a party “budget” recommendation to your child…based on what you’re both able or/willing to afford. Work backwards until you reach the budget you both agree upon. Or, take it a step further and figure out how s/he can make additional money to add to their contribution and do the math to find out how much s/he can make and how long it will take to reach the goal.

STEP 5 – Once the money’s been saved, decide on a date and invite your guests!

It’s time for both of you to celebrate! Not only will your interpersonally adept child get a chance to be surrounded by their closest friends in an environment that s/he’s designed and planned…you’ll have taught your child JUST HOW MUCH MATH is required in every day life—and in flexing his or her mind muscles in a way that celebrates & embraces his or her passion for people.

It’s (Math) Party Time!