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Extra Credit: Math Cartoon--"Cathy" and How much does stuff cost?

Updated on February 11, 2018
Janine Huldie profile image

Janine is a published author in Only Trollops Shave Above the Knees, appears on The Huffington Post and at Confessions of A Mommyaholic.


If I Were to Make the Math Cartoons a New Series, Would You Read More from this Series?

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During my tenure as a middle school math teacher, I got asked often at the beginning of the year, "Mrs. Huldie do you give extra credit?" Usually this question was raised during good old, Back to School night. And my answer was, "yes!" And I would also add that they should have also seen that I did give extra credit in the course outline they read and signed on the first day of school too.

My extra credit assignments utilized my affiliation with National Council of Teachers with Mathematics that I subscribed to each year. The membership gave me access to their website and publications that were rich with teaching resources. One such resource was listed in every monthly issue of the middle school print journal, which was their Cartoon Corner column. Each month a new cartoon was printed along with questions that corresponded with the cartoon. The questions were usually pertaining to at least one of the topics we were covering. So I would try to reproduce 3 cartoons every quarter (a quarter was usually three months long, so one cartoon a month) for the school calendar year. These three cartoon assignments were usually allowed to be started after a test was finished for those who finished early in class and then were taken home to be completed. Once completed it needed to be handed back to me to be checked for completion, as well as accuracy. And each one counted as 33 points each. All three completed accurately counted as an extra test score of 100 (yes I gave them one point on me for completing all 3---33 x 3 = 99 +1 = 100).

The Cartoon: Cathy and the Cost of a Cup of Coffee

Recently, I wrote an article about budgeting with Harry Potter for a middle school math classroom setting. The cartoon that I will be sharing in this article went along perfectly with that unit and used the popular cartoon of "Cathy". In this cartoon, "Cathy" was standing in line buying coffee at her local coffee store and complaining about the cost of coffee each day in comparison to the price of gas. Two things I am sure most kids do hear their parents complain about nowadays is indeed the price of gas and the price of coffee at places like Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks. So a very relevant budgeting concept for today's middle school child.


How Expensive Is That Stuff??

The Questions that Went Along with the Above Cartoon:

1. Question: How much would a gallon of coffee have cost back in 2005?

Answer: Here we are using prior knowledge about measurements in math and will have to convert cups into gallons. How can we do this? Well 2 cups = 1 pint; 2 pints = 1 quart; and 4 quarts = 1 gallon. Therefore, we must multiply 2 cups x 2 pints x 4 quarts, which give us the equivalent of 1 gallon being equal to 16 cups. In the cartoon one cup of coffee in 2005, was $3.00. So to find out the cost of a gallon of coffee in 2005, we must now multiply 16 cups x $3.00, which equals $48.00 for one gallon of coffee in 2005.

2. Question: If an adult bought and drank one cup of coffee a day from the shop above, how much would she have spent in a year?

Answer: Well one cup cost $3.00 and we know there are 365 calendar days in a regular (non-leap year) year. So $3.00 x 365 days, would be equivalent to $1,095.00 to get one cup of coffee a year at that exact coffee shop.

3. Use a calculator and assume that coffee increases in cost 5 percent a year from 2005 on. How much would an adult spend on coffee in the following years, drinking one cup of coffee a day?

a. 2006

b. 2007

c. 2008

d. 2009

Answer: First, we need to find a 5% increase. How do we do that? When we found the cost to be $1095 in 2005 that was 100% of the cost. Well for each subsequent year we need to find the cost to be 5 percent more that 100%, so that is the price needs to be 105% cost (when we multiply with decimals, we need to remember to move the decimal place 2 places to the left to convert the percent to a decimal). So 105% should equal 1.05 as a decimal, which is what we will be multiplying by.

a. $1,095 (2005 yearly cost) x 1.05 (5 percent increase) = $1,149.75 for 2006

b. $1,149.75 (2006 yearly cost) x 1.05 (5 percent increase) = $1,207.24 for 2007

c. $1,207.24 (2007 yearly cost) x 1.05 (5 percent increase) = $1,267.60 for 2008

d. $1,267.60 (2008 yearly cost) x 1.05 (5 percent increase) = $1,330.98 for 2009

4. A Platinum Keurig Coffee Machine that brews K-Cups from places like Dunkin Donuts on sale at Kohl's cost $99. And the Keurig® K-Cup® Portion Pack The Entertainer Variety Pack - on sale at Kohl's for $35.99. That is almost a 2 month supply. How many of these K-Cup packs will one need for the year and how much will the coffee maker, plus the K-Cups run for the year? How much would you save for this compared with how much you spent in 2009 for a years worth of coffee?

Answer: 365 days divided by 48 is approximately 7.6. So we will need 8-48 packs for the year. So $35.99 x 8 = $287.92. And don't forget to add the original cost of the Keurig coffee machine for $99. So the total for the year's worth of coffee is $287.92 + 99 = $386.92 for the whole year. Which is a little over $1.00 for coffee each day! The difference from 2009's coffee year total is $1,330.98 - 386.92 = $944.06 (savings)!!

Summing It Up...

Interestingly enough, these extra credit (cartoon) assignments, were sometimes a bit of a challenge for my students, but I always offered extra help during the school week and they were more than welcome and even encouraged to bring these assignments to extra help, where I would be happy to answer any questions and try to guide them in the right direction.

In the case of this cartoon assignment that I shared from up above, the prior knowledge of measurement conversions, as well as percents and decimals rules were something that some students possibly did not recall and therefore may get stuck without a bit of guidance from their teacher. But in my eyes this was extra credit and quite enjoyed getting the kids to think a bit outside the box so to speak.

Also, I loved how these cartoons were most likely originally printed in the local daily paper and this once again proved very nicely how math truly does come up in everyday lifetime and time again. Plus the topic of buying and drinking coffee is a very legitimate and real budgeting concern for many teens and adults alike. So yet another topic, I felt my students could relate to in a real-life setting.

Students and parents usually do seem to always be interested in extra credit come report card time and I also truly did feel this gave the students, as well as parents ample time to work on the extra credit as the school quarter progressed, so that I was not ever springing the extra credit on them at the last minute. For I outlined my grading procedure from day one in my course outline handed out to the students that needed to be shown back to me with a signature (for a homework assignment grade, the original course outline was put neatly in their math notebook to refer back to) and then again reminded parents at back to school night. I tried very hard to keep my students and their parent abreast with my curriculum and course objectives from the very beginning and would remind them all through the school year too.

So in the end, I felt that this extra cartoon credit assignment was truly a beneficial incentive for my students for the real-life modeling of math, as well to help boast their grades ever so slightly for the given school quarter too. In my book, it was a win-win situation for all.


About the Author...

Janine is a freelance writer and mom of two. She is known for being a certified and licensed professional Math Teacher through NY State and has taught in both the middle and high school levels. You can checkout her profile and more real-life Math articles here.

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© 2012 Janine Huldie


© 2012 Janine Huldie


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    • Janine Huldie profile imageAUTHOR

      Janine Huldie 

      7 years ago from New York, New York

      Thank you so much Eddy and I thank god for my kids' sake that I do and so very happy that I will hopefully one day at least use my knowledge if nothing else to help them. Thanks again and hope you too are having a good day so far :)

    • Eiddwen profile image


      7 years ago from Wales

      Wow Janine you really know your stuff and also are an expert at getting your lessons across.

      Thanks for sharing and enjoy your day.


    • Janine Huldie profile imageAUTHOR

      Janine Huldie 

      7 years ago from New York, New York

      Millionaire Tips, thank you so much for your compliment here. I too agree with you about teaching kids how to save money and the value of a dollar. Such a very important lesson and so was trying to accomplish just that with this assignment that was an extension to the Harry Potter Budgeting lesson that the kids completed before this. Thank you so much again :)

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 

      7 years ago from USA

      Wow Janine, this is amazing. I think that such an extra credit assignment would help kids realize that they can use math in their regular life, and what is better than learning how to save money? You must be an awesome teacher.

    • Janine Huldie profile imageAUTHOR

      Janine Huldie 

      7 years ago from New York, New York

      KoffeKlatch Gals, thank you so much for your compliment here, votes and share too!! Very much appreciated :)

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Hazelton 

      7 years ago from Sunny Florida

      What a fun way to teach math. I love it. Up, awesome and sharing.

    • Janine Huldie profile imageAUTHOR

      Janine Huldie 

      7 years ago from New York, New York

      Dianna, thank you so much seriously for saying such lovely things about this math hub article and for the votes too. I truly do appreciate it :)

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      7 years ago

      Bravo, Janine! What a wonderful math lesson. I enjoyed it and highly recommend it as a practice in math for everyone. Well done! Voted way up.

    • Janine Huldie profile imageAUTHOR

      Janine Huldie 

      7 years ago from New York, New York

      Glimmer Twin Fan, you are so not alone in not wanting to be in school anymore and have heard this from many others in the past. That said thank you though so much for your compliment and kid words though here!!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Claudia Mitchell 

      7 years ago

      These problems really do make math more interesting. Glad I'm not in school anymore though. Good hub!

    • Janine Huldie profile imageAUTHOR

      Janine Huldie 

      7 years ago from New York, New York

      Hi back at you Rema,

      Thank you very much for your detailed comment here. Glad to hear that you have gotten into math and developed a bit of love for this unloved subject scribing for a young girl with cerebral palsy. Age doesn't matter here and just so happy that you have learned a bit and enjoyed it.

      Thank you also for your kind words here about my teaching and passion for it, as well for all your continued support. I truly do appreciate it from the bottom of my heart. Thank you, thank you very much :) Janine

    • remaniki profile image

      Rema T V 

      7 years ago from Chennai, India

      Hi Janine,

      Truly amazing hub. Coming from me, a person who used to hate mathematics in school (perhaps it was partly because my mathematics teacher was a very rude person though very knowledgeable), it is truly engaging.

      Of course, I developed a love for the subject when in my mid forties when I was a scribe for a girl with cerebral palsy who sat for her grade X exams - I learned some of the important things in the subject just so I could put on paper what she explained. I was thrilled at the outcome that I almost completed her syllabus later on and now can boast a little knowledge of the subject.

      Your students were really blessed with a wonderful teacher like you because having a good teacher is very important in the life of a student. And to make math interesting - only a lovely person like you can do it. It may not be everyone's cup of tea.

      Hats off to you and I wish you a lot of success as a math teacher though you are not working now. I am sure you would like to stay in touch with the subject not only by publishing such wonderful hubs but also through online teaching. Cheers, Rema.

    • Janine Huldie profile imageAUTHOR

      Janine Huldie 

      7 years ago from New York, New York

      Oh Michelle, thank you seriously for saying you'd be more of a mathematician if you did indeed have a math teacher like me. I truly do appreciate your thoughtful and generosity here and can't thank you enough :)

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      Janine, a job well done. If I'd a maths teacher like you, I'd be more of a mathematician!! Thanks for an innovative lesson.....your teaching creativity speaks volumes. Interactive, and innovative.

    • Janine Huldie profile imageAUTHOR

      Janine Huldie 

      7 years ago from New York, New York

      Oh Julie thak you for saying that and for sharing too. Totally appreciate :)

    • Julie DeNeen profile image

      Blurter of Indiscretions 

      7 years ago from Clinton CT

      Fabulous job once again! Sharing with my followers :)

    • Janine Huldie profile imageAUTHOR

      Janine Huldie 

      7 years ago from New York, New York

      Joseph, don't we wish we all could have a tree that grows money, lol! Seriously I loved that picture and illustrates to me trying to budget, because we truly don't have an unlimited supply of money. That said, thank you so much for your kindness and support as always. I really do appreciate it my friend :)

    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 

      7 years ago from New York

      This hub is greener with cash and examples from real situations. Pretty chalenging but worth it. I applaud your efforts for our kids dear friend. This math is fun! Well, Docmo summed it up! :))

    • Janine Huldie profile imageAUTHOR

      Janine Huldie 

      7 years ago from New York, New York

      Oh thank you Terrye and so glad that you do enjoy Math teaching hubs. I am very appreciate of all your kindness and support. Thanks again :)

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 

      7 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      I really enjoy these hubs, I always learn something new. And I really enjoy your interesting and entertaining approach to teaching. Great job, Janine! :)

    • Janine Huldie profile imageAUTHOR

      Janine Huldie 

      7 years ago from New York, New York

      Docmo, thank you seriously for all the compliments on here from my teaching style to my smile too lol!! Seriously, I do so appreciate it. Your support has truly meant the world to me and can't say that enough. Thank you for your votes and share too!!

    • Janine Huldie profile imageAUTHOR

      Janine Huldie 

      7 years ago from New York, New York

      Bill, I am forever in your debt for all your help and support so far. I truly do appreciate it. I truly tried to teach with a variety of instruction, but always did love the hands on and real world examples to model most if not all math teaching lessons. It truly just keeps things more real and exciting too for the kids, but you were a teacher and a dam good one from everything I have read and heard, so I know you can understand truly appreciate that too. Thank you so much again for everything!!

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 

      7 years ago from UK

      Janine- I wish you had been my maths teacher. You combine creativity with crystal clear curriculum understanding, you pose sums in a way that they challenge in a cascaded approach. You show an intuitive understanding of teaching and learning styles. You are a true teaching star! voted up/shared! ( Oh and you have a wonderful smile, too!)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      7 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm not sure what I can add to what I have written before. This is a wonderful math lesson, challenging and yet interesting enough to hold the attention of the students. What I like most about your teaching style is that you always tried new things; your sense of innovation is extraordinary and I respect that greatly.


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