Dispatches: Learning Math by Forming T-Shirt Factories at Sheridan


Image caption: Students learn math through business in Ms. Bland’s 2nd grade class at the Sheridan School. Image courtesy Sheridan School

by Eben Gottlieb, Quinn Polly-Reeder, and Kaiyah Saint Firmin

In 2nd grade at Sheridan, we are learning to add and subtract with numbers into the thousands, by pretending to work in T-shirt factories. In groups, we started a factory and made a company name, like Landmark Tees, Imagination Tees, ALDQ, Fireballs, The Lightning Bolts, and DMMK.

The first thing each factory figured out was our T-shirt inventory. We got an envelope with different amounts on it, and we had to figure out the total. Then, we had to find how much money our company was worth if we sold our T-shirts for a certain price.

After that, we were ready to take orders and sell our T-shirts. We pretended to take orders from companies like Amazon, Adidas, Nike, Nordstrom, Macy’s and others.

For each order, we looked at how many T-shirts we had in the warehouse and how many T-shirts were in the order. In the warehouse, our T-shirts are organized into boxes that hold 100 shirts, rolls that hold 10 shirts, and loose shirts. Sometimes we needed to reorganize the T-shirts before we could make the sale. That means we regrouped our numbers by breaking up tens and hundreds. Then, we subtracted. We submitted our orders for review by our company members and then our auditors (the teachers).

Math feels more fun by having a T-shirt factory to do math. Sometimes we forget that we’re doing math, because we’re having fun. This isn’t boring like, “What’s this plus this plus this?” We have fun with it.