Using Food to Teach 5th Graders about Math Ratios: Pizza & Jelly Beans

Lunch Time Math Ratios

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The concept of “lunch and learn” was once used for “extra help” sessions. The added learning time was thought of as a way to re-teach or do make-up assignments. Teach math ratios steps straight out of that box.

Pizza is a favorite of many school age children. Use the spirit of pizza to your advantage when teaching math ratios.

  1. Order enough pizza for each student to have at least two slices, plus a few left over. The leftovers are an important part of the lesson. Before allowing anyone to take a piece, divide up the class into groups in accordance to the number of ordered pizzas. Instruct students to count the pieces on the whole pizza, then let lunch begin. Allow each student to take one piece.
  2. When the first round of eating is complete, ask the students to look at the remaining pizza. How much is left? How many pieces did they eat? Write the initial number of slices for each pizza on the white board, then create the ratio from the number eaten. Instruct first time students on the proper way to present the numbers.
  3. Invite students to consume a second piece. Not all students will partake.
  4. When the second round is complete, once again ask the students about the remaining pieces verses the original. Have each group create the ratio dependent directly on their pizza. Then have them create a ratio of the final pieces remaining verses the number of pieces after the first serving of pizza.
  5. This lesson may be used as an initial lesson, a follow up or a refresher.

Sweet Learning

Taking teaching math ratios to a higher level involves comparing multiple subsets of a larger group, then comparing those subsets to other subsets. Using a sweet treat, such as jelly beans, is one way to inspire students to participate in the lesson.

Large bags of mixed jelly bean become a teaching tool. The various colors are easily divided and the few that disappear from the quick sneaking bite can be used to your advantage.

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Begin by dividing the class into small groups. Pour an uncounted amount of various colored jelly beans into a bowl for each group. The groups begins by counting the entire contents of the bowl. Remind them that this is their base number for their initial ratios.

The groups then divide the jelly beans by color. Instruct the class to create ratios for each color verses the total number.

When they have successfully completed this portion of the task, invite the group to have one or two jelly beans to eat. Then instruct the groups to combine into larger groups. Repeat the process of counting and dividing. See if they can figure out the ratio of the amount eaten to the new total number.

Fun teaching ideas can be as simplistic as playing with food. Use this basis to create a foundation for future learning.

References and Photos

Jelly Beans- Every Stock Photo; DWStuckye

Pizza Food – Every Stock Photo; GilsonLuiz

Hot Chalk – Lesson Plan Page;