First Grade Enrichment Math: Shopping for Words

We had so much fun with our penguin activity that this week we embarked on an activity that was similarly challenging — we went shopping for words.  I gave the kids a sheet listing the prices for each letter — A cost $1, B cost $2, all the way up to Z for $26.

The kids had several tasks, and I let them choose which ones to work on in class (though I strongly encouraged them to choose tasks 3 and 4):

  1. Calculate the value of their first and last names
  2. Calculate the value difference between their first and last names
  3. Find a word worth exactly $50
  4. Find a word worth exactly $100
  5. Find the most expensive word you can

The kids spent the entire class busily working to find solutions.  Everyone calculated the value of their first name.  I thought mine (Elizabeth) might be the most expensive ($88), but I was beaten by both Kaitlyn and Sylvie (both $92).

Several students were able to find $50 words.  Once a student found a $50 word, it was considered “purchased” for that class and no one else in the group was allowed to write it down as their own.  No one came up with a $100 word.

Finding words worth exactly $50 and $100 takes a lot of calculations.  The kids should keep trying at home.  If they enjoy it, let them run with it.  If they become frustrated, they should spend no more than 10 or 15 minutes on each problem, and then they should call it a day.

I gave specific requirements for the last problem, the most expensive word.  Onomatopoeia words don’t count, so no coming in with ZZZZZZZZZZZ or the like.  Proper names are also disqualified.  Words need to be real words that can be found in the dictionary.  Long medical names and “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” are explicitly excluded.

I hope this assignment is fun and not stressful.  If it’s more the latter than the former, set it aside and move on!


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