Real World Math: Unexpected Events

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Mathematics, Operations (+, -, x, /, etc.)

Grade 5- 8


Students learn about personal finance and practice adding and subtracting with decimals.


  1. List the objectives for the students.
  2. In this activity students will determine whether unexpected events have positive or negative consequences. They will show how their finances are affected by these events.
  3. Discuss the purpose of keeping a check register. Make enough copies of the Student Check Register (page 81) and distribute copies to the students. Assign a beginning balance for each checkbook register.
  4. On the chalkboard draw a two-column chart with the headings "Positive" and "Negative." Ask students to brainstorm one list of events that could affect their finances positively and another list of events that could affect their finances negatively. Write students' suggestions on the chart under the appropriate headings.
  5. On heavy paper or cardstock, copy as many sets of the Unexpected Event Cards (pages 75-80) as needed so there is enough for at least one card per student. Cut the cards apart, shuffle, and place them facedown in a stack.
  6. Have students pick events and read them to the class. Have the students then record the effects of the events on their check registers.
  7. After a certain number of cards (as predetermined by the teacher) have been read aloud and recorded, have the students balance their check registers. After all the cards have been read aloud, have the students calculate a final balance and find the difference between their beginning and current balances.


  • Unexpected Events cards (pages 75-80) copied onto cardstock
  • Student Check Register (page 81)
  • pencils

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