The Your Busines$ Math Series offers elementary through junior high students a fun way to practice and develop math skills within the context of running a business. There are three versions for three different stores, all serving the same purpose in terms of math skills. Students can choose the Pet Store, Sports Store, or Book Store, but they complete only one of the three courses.
The math requires all four operations, plus rounding, decimals, and percentages. Students will also learn check writing and very basic accounting. While the publisher suggests the series for students in grades 3 through 6, I think most third graders will not be sufficiently familiar with decimals and percentages. Most students are at least fourth or fifth grade before they’ve acquired these skills. Also, some junior high students might enjoy brushing up math skills while learning business basics in this format. So I would recommend it for grades 4 through junior high.
For each course, there are a student kit and a teacher book. The student kit is a spiral bound book rather than a set of items. The teacher book has brief instructions and teaching tips, answer keys, some brief math skill instruction that you might use, nine practice sheets for working on individual math skills, and two sets of cards to cut apart. While the courses are set up by months, each month’s work can be condensed into one week if students want to move quickly through the course. Three possible schedules are shown.
What I’ve written so far makes Your Busines$ Math sound like a straightforward course, but this is really more of a “living math” and game approach to learning. Students start their business by creating a name and a logo. They get to order and record their initial inventory and figure what prices to charge. They create a business ledger showing their initial start-up money of $10,000. All of this is done in “December” (although in the student’s actual schedule this can be any month) in preparation for starting business in January. Each month they fill orders from information provided in the book, adjust inventory amounts, pay bills, pay sales tax, decide how much to spend on advertising, order new inventory, make ledger entries, and calculate profit and loss.
Adding an element of unpredictability are the two sets of cards from the teacher book: “chance cards” and “additional in-store sales cards” (AISS). Each month the student draws one of each of these. The AISS cards show varying amounts of money the store earned from these “walk-in” customers. The chance cards might be good or bad. One says, “Your roof is leaking. Pay $200 to get it fixed.” Another says, “A famous celebrity visits your store. Gain $321 in increased sales.” In addition to the randomness of the cards, the amount a student chooses to spend on advertising will also be reflected by varying percentages of increased sales.
Charts, forms, blank checks, and everything else students need are provided within the student kit book. Once parents have helped them get started and figure out what to do for each month, students should gradually be able to work more independently since the process is similar each month even if the sales, inventory, bills, and other store activity varies.
I think it was a brilliant idea to create different types of stores for these courses to appeal to students with different interests. I also think it could be interesting to have two students “compete” with their stores to see who earns the most profit. However, you use Your Busines$ Math, this is a great way to practice math skills while also learning the basics of business and accounting.