So in general I find that it's easier to learn when you are having fun. (I'm quite certain that's why the Murderous Math series are so popular among kids and adults.). So even when we are tackling somewhat tedious concepts, I try to make it as fun as possible. It was in this spirit that the Monster Ice Cream parlor mini-project was developed.

One summer I had some of my students in need of practice and work with decimals.  To them the rules had no meaning, no connection to reality.  An obvious connection for decimals is money, but again I wanted it to be fun. So, I set up a short business simulation that would work on decimal skills (and bar graphs, too) all wrapped in owning an ice cream parlor in Monsterville.

I passed out congratulations letter announcing that students had been invited to co-own an ice cream parlor in Monsterville.    While I played Monster Mash in the background for a little inspiration, students set up their businesses.  Students named their businesses, designed logos, created posters to advertise and even created some monstrous flavors (my personal favorite - Scream Cream!).

Students set prices and determined profits for different offerings.

We then graphed our sales/profit to see how the business did.

This little mini-project took students 4 days and helped practice decimal skills. For additional practice, some of my students played scavenger hunts with decimal word problems.  The lesson here is obvious...learning can (should) be fun.   While math can be restrictive in the sense that there are specific skills and concepts students have to master, the way in which students master them is entirely up to teacher and students.  Why not have some fun with it?