An At-Home Snack Bar for Sneaky Math Fun

summer fun calendar sneaky math funThis cool and creative, sneaky math fun idea is brought to you by Melissa & Doug, written by our Blog Ambassador Amy Mascott.

“It’s all about finding ways of sneaking in learning through play.” -Amy

at home snack bar for sneaky math fun

Pool season is upon us, and for many kids, the pool means splashing, swimming, and fun in sun. But for other kids, pool season brings to mind two words: Snack Bar. That means it’s time to bring out the quarters kids have been saving all winter long. and hit the always-stocked, always smiling pool snack bar!

My 7 year old has already made it clear that his goal in life is to work at our pool’s version of Grand Central Station; he dreams of working at the snack bar. So with some help from Melissa & Doug’s Play Money Set, we made that dream a reality with our at-home snack bar.

Kids love playing with money, whether it’s real or pretend.

at home snack bar for math fun cover sneaky math fun

And my kids absolutely couldn’t get enough of this play money set from the very beginning. They wanted to touch it. They wanted to count it. They wanted to hold it all in their hands.

So before anything, we did some estimating and counting before we ever set up our snack bar. Talk about some seriously sneaky math fun and learning!

at home snack bar menu sneaky math fun

In order to help with our memories, we made a quick Snack Bar Menu with a list of our items and prices. Our menu had three columns: one for the name of the item, one for a picture of the item, and one for the price of the item.

Cora and Owen drew pictures of each of our products. Having them draw pictures gives them more ownership over the menu and also helps with reading the menu!

at home snack bar sneaky math fun

For days and days the kids have been taking turns being the snack bar worker and customer, and for days and days they have been becoming better and better at adding and subtracting:

Hi, may I please have two cookies and an ice-cream bar?

Oh, I’m sorry. We don’t have ice-cream bars today. Would you like a lollipop instead?

Oh, sure! I’d love one. What’s my total? I think it will be. . .

That will be $2.00 please.

Here’s $5.00. Can you give me my change?

$3.00 back and here are your items. Thank you!

Having an at-home snack bar doesn’t have to be a huge, complicated production. All you need is a menu, some items to sell, and play money, and you can play anywhere, any time of the day.

Some days I catch the kids playing snack bar before breakfast. Other days they play after school or after the pool, right before bed.

We challenge the kids to use their best manners, both as a sales person and as a customer, and it’s been a great exercise in practicing polite conversations, especially if their father or I jump in as the rude and pushy customer who demands a refund or cries when there’s no ice-cream.

It’s all about finding ways of sneaking in learning through play. I think our at-home snack bar is here to stay–at least for the summer!


amy mascott teachmama.comHang with Amy over at for more cool, super-sneaky ways to throw in some learning in the name of fun or join her at we teach–a forum for parents and teachers to connect, share ideas and grow–no matter the classroom. Or tweet with her (@teachmama), pin with her or chat with her on Facebook!

This post was created for our Summer Fun Calendar series. Click for more info.

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  1. […] & Doug’s Play Money Set, was used to create this sneaky math game. Trick the kids into using their math whilst they setup a snack bar in your home. This activity has […]