Word Problem Wednesday: Math for Everyday Life

Aug 12, 2020

This week’s word problems are about math in everyday life! Read the introduction below with your child. Then, choose the word problem that’s the right skill level for them and have them give it a try. When they feel they’ve found the answer, scroll down with them to check their solution against ours.


Many different types of math problems come up in everyday life. They can be simple, like adding change or counting the hours until it’s time to meet up with friends. They can also be more complex, such as using geometry and scaling to draw pictures, or using algebra to earn money from home. Whichever way you find yourself using math every day, it is there to help make things easier and more manageable! Let’s practice solving an everyday math problem!

Lower Elementary:
Question: Zachary sold books at a yard sale for 15¢ each and toys for $1.00 each. If he sells 6 books and 3 toys, how much money does Zachary make altogether?

Upper Elementary:
Question: Eight students are performing songs for their music class recital. Each song is 5 minutes long. If each music student performs 1 song and all 8 students must be done performing by 9:15 p.m., then what is the latest time they can start the recital?

Middle School:
Question: A 9-foot tree casts a 6-foot shadow. A songbird casts a 2-inch shadow. A squirrel is twice as tall as the songbird. How tall is the squirrel?

Algebra and Up:
Question: The profit earned by a cat-sitting company, measured in thousands of dollars, is modeled by the function f(t) = t2 – 8+ 16, wherein is measured in months and = 1 is January. During which month does the cat-sitting company earn the least amount of money? How much do they earn?


Great job on today’s word problem! Are you ready to check your answer? Look below to see if your solution matches ours.

Lower Elementary:
Answer: $3.90
Solution: Zachary earned 15¢, 6 times for the books. That’s 15, 30, 45, 60, 75, 90¢ for all 6 of the books. He earned $1.00, 3 times for the toys. That’s $3.00 for all 3 of the toys. So, altogether, Zachary earned $0.90 + $3.00 = $3.90.

Upper Elementary:
Answer: 8:35 p.m.
Solution: The amount of time it takes for all of the students to finish their songs is 8 × 5 = 40 minutes. Since they have to finish the recital by 9:15 p.m., we count back 40 minutes before 9:15 p.m. to 8:35 p.m.

Middle School:
Answer: 6 inches
Solution: The length of the tree’s shadow is two-thirds the height of the tree. So, the length of the songbird’s shadow is two-thirds its height; 2 inches is two-thirds of 3 inches, so the songbird must be 3 inches tall. That means that the squirrel is 6 inches tall because 6 inches is twice as tall as 3 inches.

Algebra and Up:
Answer: They earned $0 in April.
Solution: This function is a parabola that opens upward, so the lowest value is at the vertex. To find the month, we find –2a = – –8 ⁄2(1) = 82 = 4. So the vertex is at = 4, which represents the month of April. To find how much they earned, we set = 4 and solve: 42 – 8(4) + 16 = 16 – 32 + 16 = 0. So, the cat-sitting business earned $0 in April.


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