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Checking temperatures

Checking temperatures is part and parcel of life these days. Why not teach decimals in the process?

Child: Mom, what’s the normal body temperature?

Parent: 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s ninety-eight and six tenths.

Child: What’s the range?

Parent: 97 degrees to 99 degrees.

Child: I’m 97.5.

Parent: Oh, so your temperature is ninety-seven and five tenths degrees F.

Without giving a formal vocabulary lesson, I have transitioned from naming the decimal as “ninety-eight point six” to describing the number in terms of the decimal fraction, “ninety-eight and six tenths”. This short conversation is giving the child prior knowledge of decimals that will motivate them to learn about his type of number later in their schooling.

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