How Much Does it Cost? And Don't Forget to Tip! - Tattoo Lesson Part 3

Welcome back to our final installment of Teaching While Tattooed. Now that you know the history of this wacky project it’s time to talk about how we managed to link getting a tattoo with learning math.

How Much Does it Cost….Don’t Forget to Tip

Subject: Math

·      Counting, Money Concepts, One-to-One Correspondence, Percentage

Once the mandatory 3-day waiting period was over the children were finally ready to get their tattoos. I would often act at the tattoo artist, as I was mostly likely not to mess up - no one likes a bad tattoo. Anyhoo, I would ask the children to tell me how much they thought their tattoo would cost. For some reason the answer was always $5.00. Occasionally one of the children would ask how much I paid for my tattoos. I would never tell them the exact price but I would always say, “a lot more than $5.00.” The children would often reply with, “Really? You paid too much.” Acting as a tattoo business owner I would tell my “customers,” aka the kids, that the price was a lot more.

I was able to alter the price based off where the children were developmentally. This individualized approached allowed me to create a personalized math lesson. It also provided me the opportunity to do an assessment of where each of the children were with their numbers and set a goal for the next progress report. With the price discussed the children would have to cut out money they designed earlier (working on fine motor, counting, one-to-one correspondence).

With the money in hand the children would meet me in the loft (tattoo station) to get their tattoo. Diving into pretend play the children and I took on the roles of this game seriously. We would make all the small talk normally had in a shop. The children would sometimes pretend that the stick-on tattoo would hurt, all the while giggling. With the tattoo complete the children would take out their money and pay the artist. The same question always followed. “Where’s my tip?” When we first started this exploration the children were unaware of the concept of this additional charge. Many conversations were had about the idea of tipping and how the tip demonstrates satisfaction with the work.

One of my favorite moments happened at the end of this exploration. One of the children asked the price for their tattoo, she went to cut out her money and when I checked her count there was an additional 5 extra dollars. When I told her she had $23 dollars and her tattoo was only $17 she told me: “You did such a good job last time I knew you should have a good tip.”

The tattoo exploration happened almost 7 years ago. It is still in my top 3 of my favorite explorations. It was so rich, so personalized. It provided the children opportunities to express themselves in ways normally not seen in a classroom setting. The children owned that project. Every part allowed them to build off existing knowledge and engage in authentic experiential learning.  

I learned a lot about myself during this exploration. I became more confident in myself and my teaching ability. I learned that it doesn’t matter what I look like on the outside, it doesn’t matter that I am covered in tattoos. My tattoo don’t dictate what kind of teacher I am, my heart does. 

                                     -Ms. Giannini